When Winston Howes’ wife Janet died 17 years ago, he wanted to find a meaningful and lasting way to honor her. So Howes headed out to the 112-acre (45 hectare) farm he owns near the town of Wickwar, in the southwestern English countryside. He set aside a 6-acre (2.5 hectare) plot and spent a week planting thousands of oak saplings, leaving a perfectly heart-shaped clearing in the middle.
The heart measures about an acre across and points to the childhood home of Howes’ wife, the Daily Telegraph reports. She died at the age of 50 after suffering from heart failure in 1995. The pair had been married for 33 years.
Howes’ heart-shaped tribute to Janet is bordered by a bushy hedge and is only accessible from a track leading to the tip. And indeed, if it seems rather secretive, that’s because until recently, it was. You’d never know the heart existed unless you got an aerial view, like hot-air balloonist Andy Collett did when he flew over Howes’ farm earlier this month and noticed the secret symbol. “It was a perfect heart hidden away from view,” Collett told the Daily Telegraph. “You can just imagine the love story.”
Howes, 70, said he sometimes retreats to the secret meadow — now surrounded by some 6,000 oak trees — to sit and reflect. He plants daffodils in the middle that bloom every spring. Howes has flown over his farm to get the full aerial effect, just like Collett, but he doesn’t have to imagine the love story. He lived it.