Heart of oaks: One farmer”s growing love for his late wife is clear from glade in memorial meadow he planted
Bereft Winston Howes planted the sapling oaks 17 years ago
Trees have grown into a glorious meadow with a heart pointing towards his late wife”s childhood homeTribute had been a family secret until balloonist photographed it from the air
When Janet Howes died suddenly 17 years ago, her devoted husband Winston decided he wanted to create a lasting tribute to her.
The farmer planted thousands of oak saplings in a six-acre field – but left a heart-shaped area in the middle, with the point facing towards his wife’s childhood home.
And as the remarkable picture here shows, his romantic labour of love has now grown into a mature meadow, a peaceful oasis where Mr Howes can sit and remember his wife of 33 years.
Standing out: The meadow of love featuring a heart for Mr Howes” late wife cuts a distinct figure among the rest of the fileds in the rolling Gloucestershire countryside
Everlasting love: A farmer”s touching tribute to his wife of 33 years who died suddenly 17 years ago. The trees were planted after the death and have grown into a meadow with heart in the middle
Husband and wife: Winston Howes with his late wife, Janet in 1994. Janet died from heart failure aged 50 and Mr Howes planted the saplings with his son
Young couple: Mr Howes with his wife in 1960. They married two years later in 1962 but he was devastated after her sudden death in 1995 and planted the trees in her memory
The meadow cannot be seen from the road and remained a family secret until a passing hot air balloonist took this photograph from the air after discovering it accidentally.
Mr Howes, 70, said yesterday: ‘I came up with the idea of creating a heart in the clearing of the field after Janet died.
‘I thought it was a great idea – it was a flash of inspiration – and I planted several thousand oak trees. Once it was completed we put a seat in the field, overlooking the hill near where she used to live.
‘I sometimes go down there, just to sit and think about things. It is a lovely and lasting tribute to her which will be here for years.’
Secret garden: The heart forms a peaceful oasis among the trees where Mr Howes can go to remember his beloved wife. The incredible sight was hidden until a balloonist recently noticed it from the air
Aerial view: Photographs taken today from a helicopter show clearly the path leading up to the clearing in the middle of the woods
Mr Howes, who owns a 112-acre farm near Wickwar, Gloucestershire, married Janet in 1962. She died from heart failure in 1995, aged 50.
He created the wood next to his farmhouse in the months after her death, marking out the massive heart shape with a large hedge.
The entrance to the secret heart is accessible only from a track leading up to its tip.
Mr Howes added: ‘We got people in especially to do it – there are several thousand trees.
‘We planted large oak trees around theedge of the heart then decided to put a hedge around it too. The heart points towards Wotton Hill, where Janet is from. We plant daffodils in the middle that come up in the spring – it looks great. I go out there from time to time and sit in the seat I created.’
Mr Howes created the impressive memorial with help from his son. It remains hidden from nearby roads and can only be viewed from the sky
Mr Howes added: ‘I also flew over it myself about five years ago.’
The farmer’s memorial was revealed in all its glory after keen hot air balloonist Andy Collett, 42, from nearby Wotton-Under-Edge, flew over the wood last week.
The transport businessman could not believe his eyes when he discovered the symbol of love hidden among the trees below.
He said: ‘I have my own balloon and am quite a regular flyer, but this was the most amazing sight I have ever seen from the sky.
‘It was a perfect heart hidden away from view – you would not know it was there.’
Mr Collett added: ‘You can just imagine the love story.’