Books I love ~ Heligan Harvest A Year's Journal

As the title of this book suggests, this is in fact a journal brought to life by the most beautiful watercolour and ink illustrations of British artist Sue Lewington. This book was a birthday gift from one of my lovely students which makes it even more special.

Many years after receiving this book, I had the delight of visiting Heligan in Cornwall on the very last day of my Cornish holiday back in Autumn 2019. It had been my first holiday to Cornwall and I wasn’t ready to leave! Even in Autumn with the cold air and misty skies, Heligan was beautiful. In my opinion it far outstrips the Eden Project in both value for money and atmosphere. So if you ever find yourself in Cornwall and only have time to visit one of these attractions I would vote Heligan every day of the week!


In every corner of the garden you will find painting inspiration ~ so it is no wonder that it took two years to complete this beautiful book!

This is the kind of book that you can keep returning to year on year and still find something you have never seen before! Every page is crammed with illustrations of the garden, which take us from January right through to December. The illustrations show different views of the garden at different times of the year. Sue paints seasonal scenes including the flora and fauna which appear in the garden. Her style uses lively ink pen drawings, layered with watercolour using direct brush ~ this allows her to capture the character of the people and the essence of Heligan. Illustrations are accompanied by short, hand written notes about the plants and the garden with some fascinating insights into the work that goes on at Heligan.

This is not an instructional watercolour book ~ instead it is more of a visual reference and as such will give you ideas on how to create your own nature journal and how to tackle drawing and painting ‘en plein air’. It will inspire you to look at your own surroundings for painting opportunities that are not perhaps, your first port of call, such as watering cans, flower pot stacks, drying onions, old boots and crumbling out buildings etc etc.


Heligan Harvest A Year’s Journal

Sue Lewington

Published by Turan 2003

ISBN: 1850221766

19x24.5cm Soft cover


A little bit of background on the history of the gardens

The gardens on the Tremayne estate were cultivated for over a century, with exotic and imported species courtesy of the plant hunters! However, the outbreak of WWI was to be a turning point in the history of the garden. The house was used as a convalescence hospital for Officers between 1916-1919. The owners then tenanted the house between the end of WWI and the start of WWII ~ after which, it was used by US troops as a base. After the war the house was tenanted again until it was converted into flats and sold off in the early 1970’s. Over this time, the neglected gardens became overgrown and for all intense purposes ‘Lost’. Th

at was until the 1990’s when Tim Smit (co-founder of the Eden Project 2000) and John Willis (a Tremayne descendent) discovered the derelict gardens ~ therein followed a restoration project on a gigantic scale. In 1992 a lease between the Tremayne Estate and Heligan Gardens Ltd was signed and the gardens were open to the public for the first time.


The Lost gardens of Heligan were found!



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