Killerton is an 18th-century house near Exeter in Devon. In 1944 it was given to the National Trust by British politician Sir Richard Acland.
Sir Richard was was one of the founding members of the British Common Wealth Party. He was an advocate of public land ownership and he gave his Killerton and Holnicote estates to the National Trust out of principle, and also to ensure that the estates remained safe and unspoiled for all time.
Tyntesfield is a Victorian Gothic Revival house near Bristol. The mansion was built in the 1830s. It was later bought by English businessman William Gibbs, whose huge fortune came from importing guano (bird droppings) used as fertilizer. In the 1860s Gibbs had the house expanded and remodelled. The architectural style selected for the rebuilding was a loose Gothic, combining many forms and reinventions, of the medieval style. The choice of Gothic was influenced by William Gibb’s Anglo-Catholic beliefs as a follower of the Oxford Movement. This movement advocated the revival of the medieval Gothic style, and “a return to the faith and the social structures of the Middle Ages”. We visited in May 2018.
Ascott, Wing, Buckinghamshire is a half-timbered house originating from 1606, transformed by the Rothschilds in the late 19th century. The extensive gardens, are an attractive mix of the formal and natural with specimen trees, shrubs and beautiful herbaceous borders. We visited in August 2017.
The Stowe National Trust property in Buckinghamshire features gardening on the grandest scale. Picture-perfect views, winding paths, lakeside walks and temples create a timeless landscape, reflecting the changing seasons. Full of hidden meaning, the gardens were created as an earthly paradise and still cast their spell today. We visited in August 2017.
We visited this National Trust property in August 2017. The Tudor-style house has a courtyard and gardens. This video features the large walled garden with its fortified tower built circa 1347. The walled garden is divided into separate areas featuring bedding plants, old-fashioned roses, shrubs, an area for ornamental fruit and vegetables and a maze without hedges.
Here is an idea that I came across in a French town square. I plan to try in my own garden next year. These impressive towers of petunias and geraniums are planted in a series of tubs stacked on top of one another. Once the plants grow bushy they drape down to hide the tub structure.
Impressive towers of petunias and geraniums seen in France.
One of the exhibits in the outside gardens of the Eden Project is a sculpture called WEEE Man. It is a robotic style monster made from everyday objects that we discard. Look carefully at the picture below and you will see washing machines, vacuum cleaners, televisions, computers and monitors embedded into his body. He is made up of 3.3 tonnes of waste material, representing the electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) an average UK citizen will throw away in a lifetime.
The sculpture was installed in 2005 and was recently given a makeover by his creator, contemporary artist Paul Bonomini, who added mobile phones and mp3 players to the body.
The good new is that recent UK Government legislation, making producers responsible for appliances at the end of their lives, has seen over 850,000 tonnes of WEEE collected for refurbishment and recycling.
The entrance to the Mediterranean Biome is through an arch of pink bougainvillaea plants. It was cool compared to the Rainforest Biome (described in my previous post) and many people were returning to the cloakroom to collect their outdoor coats as soon as they realised.
The planting represents typical Mediterranean, South African and Californian gardens that have dry, thin soil. There were orange and grapefruit trees covered with ripe fruit. The Aloes were particularly impressive with their spiky succulent leaves and their tall red flowers. The Californian blossom tree was very pretty with its white flowers and orange stamens. Some man-made objects also caught my eye; a bright orange plant made from car exhaust pipes and some pigs made from driftwood. There were also some bronze figures representing Dionysus and other gods of the grape harvest.
Click on the pictures below to see a larger version.
Our visit to the Eden Project took place on 5 January 2011. We arrived by coach in a shower of rain. The gardens and Biomes are built in a disused clay pit. This was our second visit, the first being in 2001 soon after the gardens opened to the public. A short downhill walk took us from the coach park to the entrance. Thankfully much of this was under a covered walkway. We emerged from the entrance building at the top of the old clay pit and had a magnificent view of the spectacular Biomes.
A footpath winds down through the gardens towards the Biomes. Being the depths of winter there was little to see in the way of flowers in the outside gardens. However, once inside the Biomes there was plenty to look at.
We started with the Rainforest Biome. Since it was raining very hard outside there was a very realistic damp atmosphere. I am not sure if it was condensation dripping from the roof or if there were tiny leaks here and there in the roof but there was certainly dripping water in places. There was not enough to spoil our enjoyment but enough to add to the atmosphere of the place.
The plants inside the Rainforest Biome are wonderful. The path winds up through tropical plantings representing rainforests of various parts of the world including Malaysia, West Africa and South America. The temperature inside the dome during our visit was around 30 degrees centigrade. I understand that it can get much hotter in the summer, particularly as you get nearer the top of the dome.
There are banana plants, rubber plants pineapple plants and all manner or tropical flowers in bloom. As you go round notices explain the crops that are produced with the pros and cons of the effect on the environment. It is good that food can be produced; it is bad that the rainforests of the world are being destroyed to produce the crops. It is a difficult equation to solve.
If you are in the area of the Eden Project I would thoroughly recommend a winter visit as an escape from the cold climate for a few hours.
Click on the pictures below to see a larger version.
The Butterfly World Project is about a mile from my house on the outskirts of St. Albans. These photographs were taken on our visit on 26 June 2010. This was our second visit this year; we also went last year so you can tell I like it.
This is the second year Butterfly World has been open. The butterflies are in what I would describe as a very long greenhouse. There are plans to create a huge dome with tropical vegetation among the lines of the Eden Project, but filled with butterflies. Before this can happen they have to raise the millions of pounds needed to build the dome.
Click on the small images below to see a larger version.