Tag Archives: public garden

Greys Court, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire – the gardens in August

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.

The following stills are from the video.

Greys Court, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire gateway
Greys Court, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire sweetpeas
Greys Court, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire thistleGreys Court, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire apples

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Eden Project winter visit, the Mediterranean Biome

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.

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Eden Project winter visit, the Rainforest Biome

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.

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The Manrique cactus garden on Lanzarote

This is the most unusual public garden I have visited. It is built on the site of a former volcano which became a quarry. On the island of Lanzarote they use the black volcanic ash particles in agriculture and also in the gardens. It spread over the ground to retain moisture, as shown in these pictures. The ash has the property of condensing water from the air as it cools during the night. The water runs into the soil below and the ash stops it evaporating during the day. Can you believe that so much volcanic ash was excavated from one volcano that it became a hole in the ground?

A Lanzarote artist and visionary called César Manrique created this cactus garden in what had become a dumping ground for rubbish. It houses a magnificent collection of cactuses from all around the world. Many of the cacti have grown to an enormous size, some as tall as a house.

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The Princess Beatrice Garden at Carisbrooke Castle

We visited the Princess Beatrice Garden at Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight in June 2010. The garden was designed by Chris Beardshaw, who is a former presenter of Gardener’s World on BBC TV.

The garden was opened to the public on 4th June 2009. The Princess Beatrice garden has themed flower borders, standard fruit trees in large planters, a flower meadow planting and a fountain as its centrepiece.

Princess Beatrice lived at Carisbrooke Castle during regular visits to the island. She was Governor of the Isle of Wight from 1896 until her death in 1944. The walled garden became her private retreat.

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