Garden Portrait: The Lost Gardens of Heligan Part II

The second part of this walk in The Lost Gardens of Heligan starts with the sheltered Woodland Walk where we will discover the mud sculptures of  The Giant’s Head and Mud Maid, and the more recent Grey Lady.

The Woodland Walk begins outside the ticket office and is a pleasant and fairly level walk past the sculptures.


In 1998 Cornish artists Sue and Pete Hill were commissioned by Heligan to create two imaginative living sculptures along Woodland Walk. Wanting to use an enormous tree stump exposed following the Great Storm of 1990 it became the skull of the sculpture. Mind Your Own Business was planted for the skin and Montbretia is used for the spiky hair. His eyes are chips of china and glass found on site.

Continue down the pathway dappled in the sunshine to find the Mud Maid (used as the header) and the Grey Lady. A much less substantial presence as she hides amongst the trees, planted with wild roses, to give an evocative fairytale look. The Grey Lady was named after a myth about a mysterious grey figure who was seen disappearing away from the main house.

The Mud Maid has a custom built hollow timber framework and windbreak netting. Her hands and face are a mixture of mud, cement and sand originally coated in yoghurt to set lichens growing. Her head is planted with Woodsedge and Montbretia and ivy has been trained to clothe her. In late spring when the trees are fully in leaf, shafts of sunlight strike drifts of bluebells and the birdsong lulls her to sleep. (from the sculpture information plaques)

At the end of the Woodland Walk where you will find the Grey Lady, the path divides, continuing to the Jungle or right along Georgian Ride to the Lost Valley. Not having time to do everything in one day, we opted for the Jungle. At the junction there is a marvellous view of Mevagissey and the sea and a sign, which had absolutely no influence on our decision.

Anyway, the Jungle was a good choice. Created in a steep-sided south-facing valley garden you find a riot of luscious, exotic and architectural plantings from around the world. A raised boardwalk leads around four ponds, under tree ferns, giant rhubarb, bananas and towering palms.  Source: Heligan leaflet and website

(click on an image to scroll through the gallery)

Leaving the Jungle with time running out before the gardens closed we continued past the East Lawn, around the Steward’s House where there is another tea-room, sadly closed at this time, and back into the main gardens to the exit.

I hope you have enjoyed this walk. And if you enjoy walking, whether in a garden or alongside a river, or by the coast then join Jo’s Monday Walks where you are in for further treats, or where you can share your walk with us.

Click here to see the first part of this walk.

37 thoughts on “Garden Portrait: The Lost Gardens of Heligan Part II

    • Isn’t it just? It just kept on giving! And we didn’t see a lot of the outer areas. So definitely need another visit.

    • They are rather interesting. I’d love to see them when the montbretia is flowering (well,actually you can see this on their website) pretty amazing!

  1. I came here by pure coincidence, Jude, because I wanted to put a link to yours in my next Monday walk. So the link to mine at the bottom was a complete surprise! Thank you very much 🙂 It’ll go on the bottom of my tomorrow’s walk. Hope you made it back in good shape.
    And did I say that this is a very enjoyable read? I’d love to visit.

    • Did you read both parts Jo? I can’t remember now if I linked the first part to your walk before you went away. Need to write up another walk for you, but so much to do in the house at the moment! How come when you return from a holiday you need another one? I will try and get over to you later today 🙂

  2. I am more and more honoured that you follow my blogging. Your photos are superb, as is your text and your subject. I can see I’m going to have to visit THE WHOLE WORLD. I found this post via restlessjo’s Monday walk links.

    • Thank you Meg for the lovely compliment. Just glad to have you following me around the world 😉 and the odd garden or two!

  3. What an amazing garden! I really enjoy the walk of the Heligan Garden. Thank you so much for take us there, Jude! Great captures.

    • Thanks Amy – it is a gorgeous garden with so much to see, and we didn’t see it all, though probably the best parts 🙂

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