Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Great Britain Gardens

A David Austin rose (I think) at RHS Garden Wisley
On this Fourth of July, our Independence Day in this wonderful home of warring yet democratic factions and good plumbing, I thought I'd post about the beautiful and interesting gardens I saw in the home of our forefathers and mothers. My hubby had to give a paper at a conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, and do some research in London, so I decided to tag along and see a few gardens. We've been to Great Britain a few times before but only coincidently seen some gardens. This time I was determined to make the effort and bring back a few pics. Though I only saw a handful of public gardens (and one private one of my friend Sue), I was not disappointed.

North American garden display at British Museum
Jet-lagged but determined to remain on our feet the entire first day, we went to the British Museum only to find a display of North American plants that was developed in conjunction with Kew Gardens! I had to laugh to see how far we'd come to see a "typical" Caddo Lake scene. :-)

I do wish we had as many public parks and squares per acre as London does. Here's a typical one, Bloomsbury Square if I remember correctly.
Palm House at Kew Gardens
Our first real garden outing was the next day. We met our old friend from Austin, Sue Carter, at Kew Gardens. We've been there a few times but I never fail to be impressed by the old Palm House. Isn't that a stupendous glass house?

Rosa 'Brenda Colvin'
We quickly left the crowds and found ourselves in the Duke's Garden where the roses were climbing up pillars and across a pergola. The roses were at their glorious height and the fragrance was unbelievable.

Rosa 'Chaplin's Pink Climber'
Rosa 'Francois Juranville'
The horticultural students at Kew have a series of raised veg gardens. Check out the giant artichokes on the right. I love the fence as well.
Calla lilies and something else. There were some great combos in the Secluded Gardens.
Paeonia lactiflora 'Sarah Bernhardt'
The peonies were a bit past their peak but some, such as this 'Sarah Bernhardt', were still going strong.

Sue and Jeff beside the peonies

A very cool looking glasshouse - the Davies Alpine House at Kew Gardens
After Kew Gardens we strolled through part of the town of Kew towards the town of Richmond. We followed the towpath along the Thames River and finally came to this view of the Thames (with the help of Leonard Joseph, Sue's husband, and his taxi).

Okay, this isn't exactly a garden but I just had to show you the Thames River from the town of Richmond.
RHS Garden Wisley in Surrey, annual beds
Doesn't this look like the quintessential English garden ala the 19th Century? This is at Wisley, another Royal Horticultural Society garden in Surrey. Sue met me the next day after Kew at the train station and kindly drove me to this garden. It may look a little stuffy from this photo but it most assuredly was not. And what a garden center they had! Wish I could have brought some plants back.

Deutzia x hybrida 'Contraste'
Some type of geranium (I had geranium envy the entire trip). To the left of this flower was a beautiful Hemerocallis: 'Green Gold'
European robin on a plant support
I was amazed at the plant supports in all the gardens I saw. Sue says they were made out of hazel branches. They were used to support everything from peas to large bushes.

I just loved the color of this 'Afterglow' echeveria in combination with the darker hued succulents and cactus
'Graham Thomas' rose
Wisley has a newly planted rose garden with 4,000 roses and 5,000 herbaceous plants! Again, it was the peak of rose season there. This is a really nice rose garden in that it's not the usual sticks in a ground. It's thoughtfully designed and arranged in bold or subtle color patterns. Here's a bed right next to the roses:

Herbaceous border in the Bowes-Lyon Rose Garden at Wisley
Rosa 'Letlyda'
Sorry, I didn't record the name of this rose.
Every gardener needs a little tipple, right?
Victoria and another giant artichoke plant at Chelsea Physic Garden
The next day I met Victoria Summerley, author of the blog Victoria's Backyard, at London's Chelsea Physic Garden. I met Victoria last year at the Garden Bloggers' Fling in Seattle. We had a great time taking a tour of this really old, established (in 1673) garden. Victoria wrote a very informative post, much better than I could ever do, on our tour here.

An original Wardian case used to transport plants on board ships. Botanists and other explorers shipped back plants they found from all parts of the British Empire, which helped to establish gardens such as Kew, and which allowed studies at places like Chelsea Physic Garden. 
I highly recommend you take the guided tour of Chelsea P.G. if you ever get there. You'll learn the long history of the Garden and how it's still used today for education and scientific research.

Lots of nice details here and there, including these cloches protecting broccoli from rabbits (I presume).
Now this is a real rain barrel!
I love these bay laurel trees. Below is a green manure crop used to replenish the bed.
Gunnera at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh - I stood under this massive gunnera to get out of the rain!
Before I knew it we were off to Edinburgh, Scotland! I gotta admit - we had some dreadfully cold and rainy weather there. But I was determined to see at least one garden, so I opted for the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. I'm glad I did because it was a beautiful and peaceful place (of course, the fact that it was raining and no one was there contributed to the peace!). I only wish I could have stayed longer but the rain got worse and worse.

The ubiquitous wood pigeon is also found on a few restaurant menus!
Unidentified iris
View of the city from the lawn at Inverleith House at RBG Edinburgh
The rain got me in a black and white mood
The mulch lines seemed interesting in the rain!
But how's this for some color! Himalayan blue poppy (Meconopsis)
Wow, I found a whole swath of blue poppies! I still remember the first time I saw one about 20 years ago in Ireland. I'm sure these kind would never survive in the South where I live, so I took loads of photos of them.

I hope you enjoyed this travelogue of just a few of the wonderful public gardens in Great Britain. And Happy Independence Day!! :-)

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2012. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.


  1. It's wonderful to see all your pictures, Jean, and I'm so sorry you had such bad weather in Edinburgh. You managed to pack so much into your time in London - well done! You must let me take you to another garden next time you come over - I really enjoyed our day out!

  2. Love love love it! Love the gardener's beer and woven cloches. Taking notes for the trip Walu and I hope to take next summer...I'm parking him with friends and going a-gardentouring!

  3. Oh to be in England in the summer time. I wish I'd tagged along in your suitcase. Sounds wonderful. It is so hot here. I want to go somewhere cool.~~Dee

  4. So beautiful. Let me know if you need a luggage or camera bag "sherpa" next time you go.

  5. What a fantastic tour, Jean; thank you so much for sharing these! I can't get over the climbing roses--simply beautiful. But I had to laugh at your first photo, too; to come all that way to find a "typical" North American garden:)

    I'd love to visit some UK gardens; maybe now that I've crossed the Biltmore off my bucket list, I can think about saving my pennies for a trip across the pond!

  6. Looks like you enjoyed some wonderful garden visits while you were there. That rotten rain! We just arrived back from our UK trip. Saw some wonderful gardens - just so many and so little time. How wonderful that you met with victoria at the CPG. I visited there many years ago and really enjoyed it. Watch out for my postings on more gardens you need to put on your list!

  7. I am so jealous. I have a cousin in England and your photos remind me how foolish I am not to have visited yet.

  8. What a wonderful time you had~Great gardens and good people! I love, love, love the garden shots you've shared. One thing I noticed when we were in the UK, besides the beauty, they sure are creative with plant support. Boy do they know how to weave sticks! gail


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