When Winston Howes’ wife passed away unexpectedly 17 years ago, he decided to create a lasting tribute to her memory. Howes, a farmer, planted thousands of oak saplings across a six-acre field, leaving a section unplanted in the shape of a heart, the point of which faced his wife’s childhood home.
As reported by the Daily Mail, the heart-shaped meadow cannot be seen from the road. The tribute to his late wife, Janet, was considered a family secret until a hot air balloon passed over the field, and a photo was captured.
Howes, 70, stated, “I came up with the idea of creating a heart in the clearing of the field after Janet died.” He went on to say, “I thought it was a great idea – it was a flash of inspiration – and I planted several thousand oak trees.”
He also added a seat in the meadow “overlooking the hill near where she used to live.”
“I sometimes go down there, just to sit and think about things,” said Howes. “It is a lovely and lasting tribute to her which will be here for years.”
Howes was married to Janet for 33 years. She passed away from heart failure in 1995 at the age of 50.
He used a portion of his 112-acre farm as the site for the tribute. Howes planted the trees in an open field near his farmhouse in the months after Janet’s death and used a large hedge to mark the open heart-shaped space.
“We planted large oak trees around the edge of the heart then decided to put a hedge around it too,” said Howes. “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.”
The meadow can only be accessed from a small tree-lined path connected to the tip of the heart.
It took years for the trees to reach maturity, but Howes’ efforts can now be clearly viewed from above.
Howes also confirms he has seen the meadow from the air, as he took a trip over it “about five years ago.”
Andy Collett, the hot air balloonist who spotted the tribute, 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.” He continued, “It was a perfect heart hidden away from view – you would not know it was there.”
Collett added, “You can just imagine the love story.”