Janet Howes, the wife of Winston Howes, died of heart failure seventeen years ago when she was fifty years old. The couple had been married for thirty-three years, and he wanted to find a meaningful and lasting way to honor her. The grieving husband set aside a 6-acre (2.5 hectare) plot on their 112-acre (45 hectare) farm near Wickwar in the English countryside and spent a week planting thousands of oak saplings, leaving a heart-shaped clearing in the middle.
As is shown by the picture, Howes’s heart-shaped tribute to Janet is bordered by a bushy hedge and is accessible only from a path leading to the tip. Until recently, no one else knew that the heart existed, because it was visible only from the air. Hot-air balloonist, Andy Collett, saw the symbol when he flew over Howes’s farm earlier this month. “It was a perfect heart hidden away from view,” Collett told the Daily Telegraph. “You can just imagine the love story.”
Howes, now 70, sometimes goes alone to the secret meadow, which is surrounded by some 6,000 oak trees, to sit and think quietly. He leaves flowers for his wife every spring by planting daffodils that bloom in the middle of the heart, and he has flown over his farm to get the full effect, but he doesn’t have to imagine the love story. He lived it.
This true story is a better romance than any of us writers could invent. I find it wonderful and inspiring that such love exists and flourishes. I don’t know if Janet Howes was physically beautiful, but I can imagine that she was very special, and there is no doubt that she is remembered with love. That, my friends, is a legacy.