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January 27, 2021

Lost Gardens Of Heligan – S01.

Series Repack (Originally Posted Aug 2017)

A six part series for C4, "The Lost Gardens of Heligan" follows the restoration of a country estate's derelict gardens which fell into disrepair after its gardeners were killed in action during WW1. Tim Smit and his partner John Nelson take on the mammoth task of bringing the gardens back to life.
The Lost Gardens Of Heligan S01E01.mkv

Ep01 - The mammoth task of restoring Heligan held many surprises. One of the biggest was the discovery of the Ravine - the ultimate in Victorian artifice. Fallen trees, overgrown brambles, ivy and nearly 70 years worth of fallen leaves had formed a roof, covering an underground complex water system. This magnificent feat of Victorian engineering, still in perfect working order today, pumped thousands of gallons of water uphill from the reservoir. The dilemma of how to restore the Ravine was a difficult one. Should they follow the archive photographs and recreate the same Alpine garden or should they take advantage of the way giant Ash trees had, by accident, created the perfect environment for English ferns and spring flowers. Their decision was to enhance what it had become. Their aim was to create an efficient working garden whilst maintaining the mystery and romance of decay.

Ep02 - The dramatic transformation of the Sundial Garden--once the finest herbaceous border in England, represented yet another major challenge in the ambitious restoration project. This episode follows the restoration over a 12-month period - from paper plan to the grand opening, a task, which required the combined efforts of all the staff at Heligan. The aim was not to create a slavish reproduction of the original but to concoct a new garden based on a combination of what was gleaned from old sepia photographs of Heligan and through examining pre-1880 garden design. The result is a new lawn surrounded by an extraordinary herbaceous border running some 60 feet along one wall, offset with period-correct shrubs on the other.

Ep03 - At its peak, Heligan fed all its staff, the Tremayne family and numerous guests from The Productive Gardens--two large walled gardens at the heart of the estate. The test of a good head gardener was the ability to extend the growing season and grow literally tons of flowers for cutting, and a wide variety of vegetables and exotic fruits. At one time Heligan cultivated 127 varieties of gooseberries alone, as well as pineapples produced in hot beds.We follow the year in the kitchen garden--from sowing to harvest.

Ep04 - At Heligan, 4 acres of walled kitchen garden were needed to feed household and staff of house. They provided cut flowers for house and exotic fruit from the glasshouses. The kitchen gardens are working again, using growing systems typical of Victorian time, but not including the use of chemicals favoured by the Victorians-- often lethal combinations of arsenic and lead. The second programme of the productive gardens ends with a sumptuous 'Victorian feast' laid out in the gardens but this time enjoyed by the Heligan staff.

Ep05 - Heligan's Jungle is a steep sided sub-tropical valley with four large ponds, housing some 60 different varieties of bamboo, tree-ferns, palms and giant gunnera. The Heligan team tackle the task of maintaining a 'jungle habitat' - a lot of hard work goes into making it look 'totally natural', but there are plenty of pleasant surprises: following the clearance of the area in 1992, hundreds of dormant seeds suddenly sprang into life, carpeting the valley sides with wild flowers. And the trees, planted as saplings by the Tremaynes, can now be seen in their true size and splendour.

Ep06 - Even with an estate the size of Heligan it is inconceivable that you could 'lose' a 22 acre garden, yet this is exactly what happened in The Lost Valley until it was re-discovered 'almost by accident'. For the Heligan team it has meant a combination of old and new technologies: heavy shire horses to remove some of the self-set trees, allowing the fine British oaks and chestnuts to be seen, for the first time in this valley. And, equally vital serious earth-moving equipment to build new dams and lakes, to create the balance and a sense of mystery, the every-intriguing 'what's around the next bend?'

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