Danish day

I was invited earlier this year to talk at a brilliant conference in Malmö, Sweden (more about this later). My travel plans made for an early arrival into Copenhagen, Denmark (different country but only 20 minutes train apart). First glimpse of Scandinavian design at the airport, with this stylish church-like terminal building: As I had…

An ode to the unsung heroes of spring: buds

Ask ten people what they like about spring, and half of them will probably mention flowers – lovely bright daffodils, carpets of multicoloured primroses, streets filled with cherry trees… Gardeners wait eagerly for shrubs and trees to emerge from their winter sleep and become covered in tender green leaves. But before that, there’s a very short,…

A Scottish gothic folly, Mount Stuart

Advertised as “Britain’s most astounding Victorian Gothic mansion”, Mount Stuart on the Isle of Bute is a rather impressive place. Home to the Marquesses of Bute, it was rebuilt in 1877 after a fire, and turned into a majestic Neogothic castle. The most interesting feature of Mount Stuart is however the 300 acres (120 hectares) gardens…

Southern Hemisphere in Scotland: Benmore Botanic Garden

Scotland’s flagship botanic garden, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is, contrary to its name not entirely based in the city of Edinburgh. The collection is split across four sites: Edinburgh, Dawyck, Logan and Benmore, each having their own specialties. Benmore, set within the Loch Lomond &  Trossachs National Park, is distinguished by its mountain character, and high rainfall (>2000mm) which makes it such…

A sunken jungle – Ascog Hall Fernery

After a day in Victorian Rothesay, we decided to visit one of the island’s attraction, Ascog Hall Fernery, which is located a couple of miles South, along the coast. We weren’t exactly sure of what to expect after reading the words “Victorian” and “sunken”, but got pleasantly intrigued after getting a glimpse of it for…

An island of flowers – Part 5: Monte Tropical Gardens

As promised in my previous post, this is a visit to a nearby but completely different place, the Monte Palace Tropical Gardens. Located slightly higher (600m above sea level), the Monte hills can be reached by an impressive cable car overlooking laurel forest: Where the Botanic Gardens were exposed, filled with cacti and succulents, the Monte Tropical Gardens…

An island of flowers – Part 4: Madeira Botanical garden

Reached by a short drive from the centre of Funchal, the Jardim Botanico, located 300m above sea level is a relatively recent botanic garden (opened in 1960), but full of surprises. We start our visit by the spectacular Succulents zone, with the orange flower heads of Aloe striata and red ones of Aloe plicatilis : As…

An island of flowers – Part 2: the parks of Funchal

As you’ve discovered in my previous post, the flora of Madeira, in particular its capital city Funchal is very diverse. This is reflected in the numerous parks scattered in the city, and the most famous example is probably the Jardim Municipal. Located in the touristic heart of Funchal, it was established in 1878 on the…

A garden of Eden?

In my previous post, I talked about the Lost Gardens of Heligan, a historical garden located in a large rural estate, in the heart of Cornwall. This post will deal with a diametrically opposed garden, the world famous Eden Project. No big historical features here, the Eden Project is an entirely man-made project, located in…

The not-so-lost Gardens of Heligan

They might be a stone’s throw away from Cornwall’s big landmark attraction, the Eden Project, but the “Lost Gardens of Heligan” are a totally different thing. This is the fairytale-like story of an old plantsmen’s garden which got neglected and abandoned for decades, before being brought back to life in the 1990s, and becoming a…

The Fruit gardens of Laquenexy – from mirabelles to Maoris

Do not trust the name. The “Fruit gardens” of Laquenexy, in North-East France are much more than a fruit garden. Created in 1904 by German scientists (that part of France, Alsace-Moselle, had been annexed by the Germans in 1870) to trial new grape varieties, the gardens diversified and evolved into a renowned horticultural research center…

A garden in winter : worthy or worthless ?

Winter has come. Plants die, days are short and gloomy, everyone is supposed to hide under blankets watching some old movie on TV. Many gardens close : after all, who would like to brave the cold to see dead flower heads and brown leaves? I do not agree with that! Gardens might not be as…

Wisley Gardens, a plant heaven

As some of you might know, I recently moved to the UK, and now live in a lovely town called Guildford. About 10 km from Guildford lies the second most visited English Garden, Wisley, which is maintained by the Royal Horticultural Society. Covering around 100 hectares, it’s a lovely place, with many different features…I haven’t…