Love doesn’t listen to our plans. When we fall in love, all common sense flies out the window, and the only thing you want is to be with your partner forever. Unfortunately, life sometimes has different plans.
Nobody knows this better than Winston Howes, who found the perfect woman and then suffered the greatest heartbreak imaginable. Grieving, the romantic Englishman undertook a years-long mission to honor his love…
Winston and Janet Howes met in the late 1950s in England, and the two Brits fell head over heels in love with each other. While many people don’t believe in love at first sight, Winston and Janet were convinced.
After dating for a few years, the two lovebirds decided to get married in Stroud, a market town in the center of Gloucestershire, England. Its warmth and charm made it the perfect location for a wedding.
The wedding was a smashing success, and the newlyweds couldn’t wait to spend the rest of their lives together after vowing to love each other until death did them part.
To start their lives off together, they bought a farm in a town called Wickwar. There, Winston cultivated the land while Janet kept the home in order.
The couple was happy with their lives, never tiring of each other, even as the years went on. Their only regret was not having any children or grandchildren with whom they could share the farm.
In spite of this niggling regret, the couple was devoted to each other. They loved their lives, and even though it was just the two of them, they relished the little family they had made — until their world was turned upside down…
One fateful night in 1995, Janet suffered from heart failure. As she was rushed to the hospital, Winston could only pray she would survive. When heart failure is detected early, the condition can be managed.
Sadly, Janet passed away, leaving a devastated Winston alone in a big house with several acres of land and a broken heart. Big changes were in store for the aging man.
Winston never felt more alone than he did in the big house that he shared with his beloved wife. Going outside to farm the land didn’t help either. That’s when the grieving widower came up with an idea.
Winston drove to a garden center where he picked up shovels, seeds, flowers, plants, fertilizer, and a new pair of gloves. As soon as he got home, he began his inspired project, changing and shaping one large meadow on his property.
The first person to discover what Winston did was Andy Collett, a licensed pilot and a hot air balloonist. When he flew low over the Gloucestershire fields in 2012, he couldn’t believe what he saw down below.
“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,” Collett recalled. “It was perfectly hidden away from view – you would not know it was there.”
Winston had planted a small forest on his land with a field in the middle, perfectly planned to be shaped like a heart. It was his way of honoring his love for Janet, and a place to sit and remember her and all the good times they had shared.
Collett was used to seeing tremendous sights from the air, but this one took the cake. “You can just imagine the love story,” Collett said, but Winston didn’t have to.
He had even included a bench in the meadow, where he could admire the daffodils that bloomed in the heart-shaped clearing each spring. “I sometimes go down there, just to sit and think about things,” Winston said.
The point of the heart leads in the direction of Wotton Hill, the small town on the bottom of a hill where Janet grew up. “It is a lovely and lasting tribute to Janet which will be here for years.”
When the story of the heart-shaped forest gained some attention from the press, several people left comments on Facebook. “How lovely a tribute to your beloved wife,” one person wrote. “I have heart decor in my home and my partner’s resting place. He too passed away suddenly with heart disease, and I would love a place like this to visit.”
The comments continued with people sharing stories about the loss of their own loved ones or showing their admiration for Winston’s hard work, but there was one comment that touched his heart in particular: “What a unique and beautiful tribute for Janet to look down on.”
With the help of family, friends and neighbors, Winston added approximately 6,000 oak trees to the meadow to make sure the heart remained for years to come.
Though she may no longer walk the earth, Janet’s memory will forever live on in Winston’s heart; and thanks to all the trees he planted, he can spend his remaining days in hers, too.