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Category: Garden Visits

Looking at other gardens. Suggestions of gardens to visit.

Hawaii Gardeners Delight

Hawaii Gardeners Delight

You are unlikely to be able to recreate the conditions and zones of Hawaii in your garden but you can still gaze at some of the exceptional plants and study their habitats. Isolated by thousands of miles of ocean for millions of years, the Hawaiian islands are home to many unique plants and flowers described with great photographs in this book

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This book describes more than 130 indigenous (originating or occurring naturally) and endemic (native and restricted) species of many unique plants and flowers.

Interesting Facts to Delight Gardeners

  • The Hawaiian islands, isolated by thousands of miles of ocean. Prehistoric evolution may have resulted from seeds that have been dispersed by oceanic drift, air flotation but most probably by birds droppings and attachment.
  • There were an acknowledged prehistoric 26 plant species before Polynesian immigrants arrived and developed knowledge of medicinal and other uses of plants. They introduced breadfruit, mulberry, coconut, yam, sweet potato, banana, sugar cane and ginger among other useful species.
  • Species have adapted to colonise lava flows in vegetation called ‘kipuka’.
  • The diverse ecosystems found throughout Hawaii include coastal areas, rain forest, bogs, sub-alpine , mesic forest and dry shrub land.
  • Hawaiian islands’ native flora are fast-disappearing nature conservation
  • The state flower of the Aloha State  is the Yellow Hibiscus.


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If you are lucky enought o visit one of the many volcanic islands of Hawaii get out and about to visit different ecoregions and botanical sanctuaries. If you stick to coastal and tourist areas you will miss a brilliant and unique horticultural journey. If you can’t visit you can still wonder at the photographs and reports of others that I have hinted at.

Zen of Holland Park Japanese Garden

Zen of Holland Park Japanese Garden

Holland Park has some Zen like features but fails my Zen test. The classic elements of a successful Zen are stone, sand or gravel, water, plants and space. Then there is a question of balance between yin and yang. Cramped or cluttered gardens inhibit the flow of spirit so space is potentially the key ingredient of a Zen garden.

Stone is a solid yang element to be contrasted to the yin of raked gravel and or water. Stones have personality and should be placed carefully. Plants are not intended to be functional but are integral to the yang of design. Dry gardens replace water with gravel sometimes with stepping stones inset

In Holland Park London not far from Notting Hill is a peaceful Japanese garden. There are numerous features that can inspire your own plans although I draw the line at bringing in a dozen Peacocks to my plot.

Kyoto beach London

One feature I took note of was the beach effect for this pond. It allows birds and invertebrates easy access to the waters edge. Being in the process of installing another pond in my own garden I have built in a beach not dissimilar to this. I bought some butyl line with shingle already attached and shaped it to run down into a preformed pond.

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British View of American Landscape

British View of American Landscape

Some time ago in the pre-Trump era the west lawn at the British Museum  showed plants from North America landscape. The plants were provided in partnership with Kew but the photographs were mine taken in September.
I now wish I had also visited to see and take pictures of earlier spring and summer flowers fro N America.

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Amongst the more colourful flowers were a range of ‘tickseed’ which is the American name for Coreopsis. I like to grow these airy prairie plants even in darkest Yorkshire and you may see why from these photos.

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Trust me to get a photo of mildew! Must try again.

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The Museum garden had a lot going on in both leaf and flower forms.
The signage was good but it wasn’t obvious to me which of three zones each plant portrayed; Woodland, Prairie or Wetland.
I am sure the wetland was represented by the wonderful insect eating Pitcher plants.
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Older Pitcher plants below.

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I am sure it wasn’t intentional on the part of Kew to include these British Rockies. I am sure the real thing are more awe inspiring.

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For me the September light set off these New England Asters a proper treat.

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Cone flowers Echinacea purpurea held there own!

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Orange Coneflower Rudbeckia fulgida. The seeds feed finches and Native Americans used a wash from the plant for snake bites, earache and for a variety of other medicinal purposes.
First known in England in 1789 when they were described by Wm Aiton the first curator at Kew and ‘His Majesty’s Gardener at
Kew and Richmond ‘.


National Garden Scheme Raises £2.7m

National Garden Scheme Raises £2.7m

In 2016 the National Garden scheme donated £2.7 million to a range of cancer and other charities. This furthers the charitable objectives of the society ‘supporting charities, in their work in the provision of nursing and caring, and

  • the relief of sickness and the preservation and promotion of health;
  • supporting the queen’s nursing institute in its work.
  • assisting such charities or charitable purposes as the trustees shall think fit;’

Looking at the Yorkshire programme for 2017 I forecast an increase in these donations despite the economy and dare I say it the weather.

These Iris were in fine fettle at Creskeld Hall in Wharfedale at the end of May for their open day in aid of NGS. Renown for the Rhododendrons and Azaleas the 3½ acre garden did not disappoint.

Get your local Yellow Book the guide to open gardens and visit some open gardens and help this charity help so many other worthwhile charities.

Studley Royal Water Garden

Studley Royal Water Garden

Fountain Abbey

In the Georgian period of the 1700’s John Aislabie set about landscaping a water garden at Studley Royal near Ripon. Today it is a verdant green garden with ornamental lakes, cascades and vistas to take the breath away. There are temples, follies, St Marys church and several buildings within this World Heritage site. Not least of the buildings is the 12th century Fountains Abbey a crucial part of the landscape.

Things to look out for

  • Spring plants include Primroses, Cowslips and Oxlips.
  • Summer plants include Orchids, Pinks, Scabious
  • Autumn and winter interest comes from the tree colours and snowdrops
  • Wild flower meadow on the walk into Ripon
  • Deer in the parkland

Octagon Tower at Fountains Abbey


  • Soil is limestone and sandstone in a lowland setting.
  • Despite being distant from the East and west coasts the site is only 330 feet above sea level.
  • The site was well chosen by the Cistercian monks 1000 years ago.
  • The first indication of a water garden was the monk’s fish pond that was used to cultivate supper.
  • The land is managed by the National Trust and a team of volunteer gardeners.
Grewelthorpe Himalayan Garden Images

Grewelthorpe Himalayan Garden Images

The Himalayan Garden at Grewlthorpe continues to mature and develop. It is great to see a wide range of trees allowed to grow their natural size without undue lopping or arbo work.
A new arboretum will open at the end of May 2017 and the next autumn season will be worth a special visit.

As ever the sculptures are excellently located and seem to breed in number every time I visit.

Rhododendrons are the key feature for me that makes return spring visits a must.

Landscape views from the many well located paths are set to delight.

Botanical Gardens and Botanics

Botanical Gardens and Botanics

Definitions and Scope

Botany is the science of plant life. In other descriptions it is the study of plant science or plant biology. A botanist is one who studies botany.

A botanic is a drug or medicinal preparation obtained from a plant or plants. 

Botanic gardens are institutions holding documented collections of living plants for the purposes of scientific research, conservation, display and education.”

Oxford Botanic Gardens and Magdalen College Tower.

This garden, the oldest in the UK was founded in 1621 as a physic garden growing plants for medicinal research

The original Cambridge University Botanic Garden (CUBG) was founded in 1762  with the larger site opening in 1846. It provides inspiration for botanists, gardeners and the public with an array of 8000 plant species. As a university garden it has a resources for research and teaching based on a collection of living plants labelled with their botanical names. CUBG is one of 1600 heritage-listed gardens  which are based on ‘designed’ landscapes, rather than on planting or botanical importance.

Chelsea Physic Garden was established as the Apothecaries’ Garden  in 1673

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Durham University Botanic Garden plus other University led botanic gardens at Leicester and Bristol

Ness Botanic Gardens

Royal Botanic Gardens Kew

Sheffield Botanic Garden has been restored  with  different garden areas with plants from all over the world, this 19-acre Gardenesque-style botanical garden is a diverse one to visit. As with other good botanic gardens it holds National Plant Collections in Sheffields case Weigela, Diervilla and Sarcococca.

National Botanic Garden of Wales

Belfast College Park, Botanic Avenue

Jardim Botânico, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  contains exotic plants in a massive 137-hectare garden’

Singapore Botanic Gardens founded  in 1859 has Singapore’s  National Orchid Garden holding a collection of more than 1,000 species and 2,000 hybrids of orchids

Other large cities have notable botanic gardens including Sidney, New York, Kirstenbosch, Padova, Munchen and Montreal.

Botanic Labeling

cyclamen cilicium

Botanic label and specimen containing the  family name Myrsinaceae, or the myrsine family and origin S W Turkey. The species name Cyclamen Cilcium, the forma as two cultivars have been named but there are many similar wild forms. The number is the accession number 4 digits show the year the plant was first acquired  then last four numbers are sequential numbers.

Myrsinaceae is a rather large family from the order Ericales, that includes Cyclamen among 30+ genera.

RHS Plant label information downloadable

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Book Cover

Plants from Madeira

Plants from Madeira

Seductive plants from Madeira are best viewed on the island but it is tempting to bring some how as bulbs or plants. I avoid bringing plant material home as it may bring back pest and disease. As a Yorkshireman I don’t want  to loose my money and the plant markets are just tourist ‘come and buy me’ traps.

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Monte Palace Tropical Garden

  • 3 Miles from Funchal at Monte there is a tropical garden dating back to the 18th century. You can access it by 21st century cable car and return on the toboggans.
  • 70,000 square meters of garden include Proteas, Cycads, Acaias, Sequoias and Azaleas representing all the continents.
  • Close by is the wilder area of the Laurissilva Forest a Unesco world heritage site.

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Quinta do Palheiro Ferreiro Gardens

  • The gardens, owned by the Blandy family since 1885, boasts some of the most valuable and rare exotic plants on the island.
  • The gardens specialise in splendid Camellia varieties which you will be able to admire to its full extent during the main flowering season between November and April.
  • There is also topiary, great trees and views down into Funchal.

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Botanical Gardens

  • Quinta do Bom Sucesso was a private Quinta belonging to the Reid’s family. This has been the Government owned botanic garden since 1960. – where the climatic conditions are much in favour of exuberant vegetation.
  • The Botanical Garden boasts more than 2000 different plants.
  • Throughout the gardens visitors can find the plants labeled with their scientific names, common name and origin.
  • There are five distinct areas to visit including, Indigenous and endemic, Tree Garden, Succulents, Tropical/Cultivated/Aromatic/Medicinal and The Loiro Park which has some of the most exotic and rare birds.

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There are several other gardens to visit during a holiday on the Island. The walks in the country also provide ample opportunity to see a wide range of flowers, trees and plants in their natural habitats.

Best Gardens In China for a Visit

Best Gardens In China for a Visit


China is one of the great destinations for visiting gardens. The influence over garden design and the vast array of plants and flowers is secondary to the investment in time and dedication demonstrated in so many great locations. This is just a selection of those you may consider visiting if you can make the journey..

The Garden of Contentment has an evocative name that for many sums up the essence of gardening. This feeling of tranquility will be found in many of the gardens we are considering visiting but this Shanghai location is an exceptional place to start our virtual garden tour.

YuYuan Garden

Whilst in Shanghai it is worth a visit to the local Botanic Garden with its collection of old bonsai and many acid loving plants.

For a strange, modern, garden in Beijing the Grand View Garden was built in 1984 to represent a fictional garden replicating one described in a classic Chinese tale ‘ A Dream of Red Mansions’ available in English

For keen gardeners the best location must be the ‘Silk City’ of Suzhou where you have a choice of choice gardens to visit.  The name Lingering Garden makes me want to invent a name for my own patch, perhaps that should be the patchwork garden. The image is of the Lingering garden from Wonderlust and Lipstick inspiring women travellers.

Humble Administrator's Garden
The Canglingting or Dark blue wave garden is deceptive in its use of pools and local scenery whilst the Humble Administrators Garden is anything but humble as the largest garden in the city. The Circular Grace  Mountain Villa blends with the rocky out crops making traditional use of the landscape evocative of Chinese painting.

The star amongst so may great  cultural heritage sites is the The Master of the Nets Garden a household garden and one of the smallest but highly recommended. It is about one thousand years old and is inspirational particularly in the design and linking with the living accommodation.
Imperial Garden in the Forbidden City

See more information courtesy of Travel Guide China
The Master of the Nets Garden

‘Even more than the architectural achievement is the mood of tranquillity and harmony that this humble garden embodies.
This exquisite garden was first designed during the Song Dynasty (960 – 1279) as part of a residence that was used until the Taiping Rebellion in the 1860’s. It was later restored and became the residence of a government official from whom the garden got its name.
The garden is divided into three sections: a residential section, the central main garden and an inner garden. The main garden has a large pond that is surrounded by pathways and a variety of buildings such as the Ribbon Washing Pavilion, and the Pavilion for the advent of the Moon and Wind. There are many more buildings that are situated so that there is never a sense of crowding, but always of spaciousness. As is common in Suzhou gardens, the pond has a small pavilion in it. Here the pavilion is accessible by a bridge that is less than one foot wide.
As you walk about the gardens and along the walkways, there are often views through windows onto beautiful flowers or plants framing them from a distance and drawing you to a single sight, a moment of peaceful natural beauty. As you walk through the buildings, it is easy to imagine the life that the original residents lived in a feudal society where these gardens were solely for their pleasure and the pleasure of their guests. The various buildings are constructed so that you can always access the main garden from any room.’

Guo Zhuang Botanical Garden and traditional private gardens are often on the tour circuit on trips to Eastern China. Other Botanic gardens to consider include Sun Yat-sen Botanical Garden in Nanjing , South China Botanical Garden, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden
Kunming Botanical Garden, Wuhan Botanical Garden Lushan Botanical Garden, Hangzhou Botanical Garden and Guilin Botanical Garden.

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Great book on Great Gardens in China by Peter Valder
From amazon ‘Valder’s illuminating compilation of more than 200 gardens promises to provide the ultimate resource for future travelers before mbarking on a trip they can study and savor images and information on diverse horticultural realms located throughout China… A lavish record of famed Imperial gardens as well as fascinating examples of lesser-known temples, parks, and botanical arboreta… Encompassing a treasury of plant portraits, stunning architectural details, and awe-inspiring vistas, Valder’s chosen topic is rendered in such depth as to rouse armchair dreamers and act as a call to action for avid garden trekkers.

YuYuan Garden by Wolfgang Staudt CC BY-NC 2.0 ‘Yuyuan Garden, first established in 1559, is located in the center of the Old City next to the Chenghuangmiao in Shanghai.
Humble Administrator’s Garden by Jan Langhaug CC BY-NC 2.0
Imperial Garden in the Forbidden City by ajft CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Yuyuan Garden by ksbuehler CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Yuyuan Garden