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Thursday, 17 May 2012

Tim Smit opens Victorian Glasshouse Range at Myddelton House Gardens

Last Wednesday, a year on from the completion of the two year Heritage Lottery Funded restoration project opened by the Duchess of Cornwall, Tim Smit opened our latest and most impressive Victorian Glasshouse Range. It was constructed by local contractor Cuttle Construction with the powder coated superstructure created by Alitex glasshouses. The launch marked a nine-month project, funded by the current owner of the garden, Lee Valley Regional Park Authority.

The discovery of the foundations in late 2009 will be a day I remember forever. Tom, our trainee gardener at the time and I started digging along the southern side of the potting shed in the hope of finding evidence of the original structure. We selected a location that we thought we would find the corner of the structure near a path in the hope that the foundations would have been left to help retain the path.

After digging down for nearly three feet we had still not found brick work, it was only with Tom's final throw of the spade that he hit something. It later turned out that we had found the southerly wall of the sunken house. As we chased and uncovered further footings the brick work continued to step up and within eight feet of where we started the foundations were only a few inches under the surface, and to think we very nearly stopped.

Tim Smit and the Lost Gardens of Heligan was the inspiration for my career choice at the age of thirteen when the discovery and restoration of this most magical and captivating Cornish garden was televised. Tim Smit is possibly not the usual hero of a teenager. Sixteen years on, and with the continuation of the restoration and development of E A Bowles' garden, I stood next to my hero. I felt very proud of the achievement we had all made in this garden, in which the spirit and soul of Mr Bowles still lives on.

I wish I could muster the energy right now to describe how wonderful this launch was. I find myself, however, quite exhausted from the day. I will leave you,therefore, to read the wonderful recollection of yesterday's event from Alitex's Laura Bradley on the Alitex blog and to share some of the photos of the big day. More to follow after a few goodnight's sleep.

For the full 'Blue Peter' Tulip Tea episode please visit my blog soon.

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