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Showing posts from January, 2011

Galloping Gardener Walks © - A weekend in the sun seeing Sarasota Gardens

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Sarasota is a great place to base yourself if you want to soak up and the sun and enjoy some Florida gardens. There's something for everyone - old and young; orchid and rose lovers and even a taste of history down at Spanish Point. And in the first of my regionalised posts I've been experimenting with maps, so I can show readers where different gardens are located - especially if you're planning to visit more than one in a day.


The garden that really surprised me here was Mable Ringling's Rose Garden, which I first visited last November. I'm not really a rose lover, but this little jewel is filled with some of the finest roses I've ever seen, which came as quite a shock to me given the climate here, because I mistakenly thought that it would be too hot for roses. Well ... I was wrong and can assure you I saw more fine blooms here than I've seen at many gardens back home in England!  Move onto the Jungle Gardens if you've got the kids with you, because the…

Great garden designers - Gertrude Jekyll

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I haven't been to any new gardens recently so thought I'd start an occasional series about British garden designers. Today focusses on Gertrude Jekyll, who spent many years working alongside influential English architect Edwin Lutyens. Born in London in 1843, she came from a wealthy and well-connected family, who allowed her to study painting and botany at the South Kensington School of Art once she finished her schooling. This was a really unusual choice for a young woman in Victorian times, but she was undoubtedly a determined character and had talent as a painter. When she started designing gardens later in life, she used her Art School training to best advantage when drawing plans for clients. When I first started visiting gardens in Britain, Jekyll reared her head repeatedly, so I tried to visit gardens she'd designed, but found that I encountered more and more that were either "attributed' to her, or "based on a Gertrude Jekyll design". There seemed…

World's first Botanical Garden Hotel in the Florida Keys

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Hardly a garden view, but one you might enjoy at any time! This is what you'll see when you stay at the world's first Botanical Garden that offers accommodation among the plants - Kona Kai in Key Largo on the Florida Keys - and close enough from Miami to visit in a day if you're in the area.  Today, I wanted to tell you about someone I met last month on my way to Key West, who not only made a lasting impression in me, but prompted me to research the whole concept of Ethnobotany and think about the way we're going in the world of gardens and plants. Joe Harris, former journalist, is the man behind the  gardens at Kona Kai Resort and he's passionate about his plot. It would be hard not to get enthused just listening to him and if you get the chance to meet him, you'll soon find yourself wrapped up in the story of this little piece of paradise. Ethnobotany is the scientific study of the relationship between plants and people. It explores the way in which plants have…

When water makes a garden special! Make the most of a garden pass for overseas visitors!

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Winter is always a good time to take stock and make your travel plans for the future, and for me it's a time to reflect on some of the wonderful gardens I've seen in my travels and decide where to go next. I was sorting through photographs this week and found several places that make the basis of  this "Wondrous Water Garden" feature today. It's raining so hard here in Florida, that it seems doubly appropriate!      One that will always stick in my mind is the garden at the Swarovski Crystal Works just outside Innsbruck in Austria, which I visited some 18 months ago. And although most visitors come for the museum, which is filled with amazing crystal objects, I wanted to see the Alpine Garden and the huge grass-covered giant (above), with crystal eyes - Swarovski of course - that spouts water into a pool below. This is a perfect garden to visit on a summer's day, when you have a clear view of the mountains. In Britain we have many gardens with moats, which also…

See the best snowdrops in Britain - gardens where they bloom!

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It's that time of year again and the snowdrops are beginning to rear their heads out of the frozen ground! There are many glorious gardens in Britain that open specially to show off their snowdrops and I've listed some of the main ones below.  February is the traditional month to view them in full bloom, but the highlighted link for each entry will give you further information on opening dates. Great British Gardens also has a comprehensive list of snowdrop gardens.
Benington Lordship, Herts. Open throughout February.
Chelsea Physic Garden, London. Located in Chelsea, the garden opens for just one week to show off its snowdrops.
Colesbourne Park, Glos. Colesbourne draws incredible crowds during galanthus season. This is one you cannot miss - snowdrops as far as the eye can see. East Lambrook Manor, Somerset. Margery Fish's delightful cottage garden - always worth a visit, but draws snowdrop enthusiasts from all over the country in February.
Easton Lodge Gardens, Essex. Under re…

Winter magic at Wisley!

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If you want some winter magic, head to RHS Wisley for the Butterfly Exhibition, on until the end of February. It's guaranteed to entertain all ages and provide hours of amusement for both young and old! I went today with fellow blogger Joanne whose cottage garden blog has delighted many over the years. And once inside, we were no different to the numerous toddlers in the glasshouse - entranced by these fluttering creatures and exclaiming at this magical display! There are some 30 species of butterfly on display at Wisley. We were really lucky with the weather, because the day dawned bright and clear and we were able to see the butterflies in the sunshine, but this is a display that you can catch on a rainy day too and of course, there's always the gardens to enjoy. I'm only featuring some of the butterflies we saw here, but we also saw many wonderful plants on our brief visit today, which reinforces my view that any garden with a glasshouse makes worthwhile viewing in the wi…

First snowdrops bloom at Polesden Lacey!

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Although we're still in the middle of winter and there's little in bloom, I saw my first snowdrops today in the winter garden at Polesden Lacey in Surrey. I stopped briefly en route elsewhere - in between the rain showers - and wandered through the grounds here, enjoying the views over the surrounding Surrey countryside. It's one of the few English gardens that remains open throughout the winter and there's much work in progress here as the gardeners prepare for springtime.  One-time home of Edwardian society hostess the Hon Mrs Ronald Greville, who liked to entertain on a grand scale, the house (top) is set in 1,400 acres of rolling countryside. The property has been under the stewardship of the National Trust since her death in 1942, but the garden, and more importantly the substantial grounds - rarely seem to feature in garden write ups. But this may be due to the fact that much restoration work has been done here in the last few years.  Famous for its roses in the su…

Winter wonderland at Sir Harold Hillier's garden!

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It may be mid winter, but there are still wonderful gardens to visit at this time of year! I dropped in at the SirHarold HillierGardens and Arboretum in Hampshire this week and during a very brief sunburst, took these photographs in the glorious winter garden. My heart lifted when I saw the array of colours - clever planting of dogwood (Cornus) - used all over Britain to give winter colour to gardens - because it gives such vibrant hues (above and below) when there is little else in bloom. Just a brief ray of sunshine is enough to bring this wonderful garden alive, with all the multi-coloured Cornus stems ranging from green to yellow, orange and red and silvery evergreens in between. This garden is always a joy to visit, whatever the season, and every time I return, I'm amazed by what I find here. Also worth remembering is that annual membership here costs just £29.50, but includes entry to the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, Wakehurst Place, the National Botanic Garden of Wales an…

Galloping Gardener's Alphabet Gardens - Did you miss any?

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I've come to the end of my alphabet reviews and I'm off to the US and India. Thank you for all your wonderful comments since I began my annual round-up of gardens. And if you've missed any of the gardens featured in the series, click on the link below and it will take you to the post.

Astounding "A" Gardens Beautiful "B" Gardens Charismatic "C" Gardens Delightful "D" Gardens Enchanting "E" Gardens Fabulous "F" Gardens Glorious "G" Gardens Heavenly "H" Gardens Intriguing "I" Gardens Luxuriant "L" Gardens Magical "M" Gardens Picturesque "P" Gardens Remarkable "R" Gardens Stunning "S" Gardens Tantalising "T" Gardens Unmissable "U" Gardens Visionary "V" Gardens Wonderful "W" Gardens
I'll be visiting more new gardens during my travels, and working with my colleagues on our garden in Udaipur, so hope you'll follo…

Wonderful "W" gardens - Wakehurst to Wisley

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In the last of my annual Alphabet series, we've reached the "W"s, starting with Wakehurst Place in Sussex - one of the great British gardens that's open all year round. Home of the Millenium Seed Bank, and site of many fine specimen trees, you can visit in any season and find something of interest here, in the 170 acres that make up Kew's country garden. Originally created by Gerald Loder, who became Lord Wakehurst, the property is now managed by the Royal Botanical Garden in London. Waterperry Gardens near Oxford also remains open throughout the seasons. This is a garden to visit at any time of year since there's always something in bloom and will soon to be a star in the snowdrop line up here in England, as the little white heads start to show in February. This garden has an interesting history - former home of Miss Beatrix Havergal who lived here in the 1930s - who ran a school "to educate women in horticulture". West Dean, with its wonderful Harol…