Melbourne Botanical Garden

Melbourne Botanical Garden

Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

During a recent weekend away to Melbourne my wife and I took a leisurely stroll from the hotel down to the botanical gardens. We have been there twice before but it’s always a highlight of our stays and since this is going to be our last trip for a while we made the most of it.

The Melbourne Garden is one of two botanical gardens run by Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria. The other is Cranbourne and is a large site to the south east of the city. We visited this two years ago on our way to Philip Island.

How to find the garden

The gardens are a large area of green sitting below the River Yarra that bisects the main city. We walked from the CBD through the open parks to the west and entered at the Observatory Gate which is located beside the Shrine of Remembrance. A full PDF map of the garden can be found here.

Melbourne Botanical Garden map
A tram line runs below the park but it’s easily accessed from the river by foot
Map of Melbourne Botanical garden location
The garden is located to the South East of the CBD.

Useful Information

Entrance Fee: FREE!

Opening hours: 07:30 until sunset every day

There is cycle parking at the Observatory Gate as you’re not allowed to cycle around the garden itself. We weren’t aware of this when we first visited and entered through the top gate and spent the morning pushing to very heavy rental bikes around the garden.

Main Features

  • Guilfoyles Volcano
  • Children’s Garden
  • Lakes and Islands
  • Canna Bed Rain Garden
  • Tropical Glasshouse
  • Herbarium
  • Potager
  • Eucalyptus Walk
  • Rainforest Walk

Guilfoyle’s Volcano

Guilfoyle's Volcano Pond
Guilfoyle’s Volcano Pond

At the top of the garden is a cone of planting with a raised pond. This is the where the parks water management system begins and rainwater is collected and managed as it passes through the grounds. It’s a lovely elevated spot for viewing the gardens with the city skyscrapers in the background.

Guilfoyle's Volcano
Guilfoyle’s Volcano at the Melbourne Botanical Garden.

Canna Bed Rain Garden

Canna Bed Rain Garden
Canna Bed Rain Garden

This eye-searing display is planted over a sump that forms the next part of the waterway that eventually leads to the lake. It was nice to see the variety of heights and colours in this genus. Instead of being a utilitarian eye-sore they’ve turned this into a feature to make use of the damp soil. Everyone had their phones out taking pictures and selfies with this backdrop.

Lakes and Islands

A main focus of the garden is the lake where you can take a gondola ride or have something to eat from the cafe overlooking the water.

Lotus in flower on the lake
Lotus in flower on the lake

This is the first time I had seen a lotus in real life. It’s easy to see why they’ve been revered for centuries. Simple yet elegant flowers stand proud of the foliage.


This summer I will be back in the UK I’m looking forward to starting a new allotment project. This potager garden is great inspiration for an orderly and beautiful productive space. My wife even conceded that a vegetable garden can be pretty as she’s not normally too enamoured with them.

Potager at Melbourne Botanic Garden
Sunflower blooming in the Potager at Melbourne Botanic Garden
Potager at Melbourne Botanic Garden
Unusual infestation at the Potager at Melbourne Botanic Garden
Potager at Melbourne Botanic Garden
Ordered beds in the Potager at Melbourne Botanic Garden

 Plant Highlights

Mother-in-laws Cushion (Echinocactus grusonii).
Mother-in-laws Cushion (Echinocactus grusonii).

This cactus was growing at the volcano on steep well-drained borders in full sun. It’s also known as the Golden Barrel Cactus (but where’s the fun in that?).

Hosperaloe funifera
Hosperaloe funifera -a mexican agavae relative

Throughout the park there are large flat-leaved Agavae with names and initials scraped in to them. I’m sure someone will find it an interesting urban trend like graffiti but I don’t like it.

Grafitti or community engagement? This Agave looks abused.

Other Botanical Garden Visits

Singapore Botanical Garden

Phuket Botanic Garden

RHS Wisley, Surrey, UK

Bicton Botanical Garden, Devon, UK

Gardens By The Bay, Singapore

Common Citrus Pests and what it’s really like growing Citrus 

What it’s really like growing Citrus

The reality of growing citrus can be very different that the imagined idl. When we first moved to Australia I realised that for the first time I would be able to grow citrus. Nothing sounded better than sitting outside of a balmy evening pulling lemons and limes from the trees sitting beside me and dropping them in to alcoholic drinks. The next morning we’d juice the fat oranges to help the hangover. The reality, as you might have guessed, was a little different.

As I’ve written about before, it’s not all been plain sailing for my poor citrus, plants. The rough winds in this area snapped the head off my grapefruit and the breeze coming off the sea is laden with salt. That’s how they ended up in the high-dependency unit in the back garden where they subsequently dried out through lack of attention and obscenely bright sunlight. We’re currently trying to cope with a 38degree day with ‘extreme’ UV light levels.

The grand total of our crops have been 3 of the best-tasting lemons I have ever eaten, and some kaffir lime leaves. Small on quantity the harvest have been but what an eye-opener to have fresh lemon juice over water and ice-cubes. Possibly the best drink I’ve ever had.

Grapefruit damaged by Leafminers and caterpillars.

We are packing up the house and garden ready for our move home to the UK and my lucky Aunty is getting some presents from the garden that we can’t take back with us. The citrus trees are heading for her house down the coast. The trouble is I can’t yet face taking them to her as they look so poorly mistreated she may send me away (a botanist by training her standards are high).

Common Citrus Pests

Here I list some of the pests and ailments that have befallen my citrus trees.

Bronze Orange Bug

Variously known as the Stink Bug, Citrus Bug, and Bronze Orange Bug, this beastly thing not only sucks the sap from your plants (thus weakening them and impairing yield) but squirts a toxic, citrusy liquid at you if you dare to interrupt it. You’ll need gloves and goggles when dealing with this pest as the fluid is corrosive.

Musgraveia sulciventris (Bronze Orange Bug, Stink Bug, Citrus Bug)


Ants and Aphids

It seems that you have to travel further than the other side of the World to get away from aphids and ants. The aphids have employed a security team in the form of an army of ants, or the ants are farming the aphids.

Aphids and Ants



As pretty as the delicate silvery trails are on the new leaves of my Grapefruit I would rather have a healthy plant. The Citrus Leafminer is a wasp that lays its eggs on the lead which then burrow under and feed off the sap from the damaged cells. Once they pupate to hatch into the wasps they curl the leaf around them for protection.

Citrus Leafminer Damage. Phyllocnistis citrella
Citrus Leafminer Damage. Phyllocnistis citrella


Citrus Swallowtail Butterfly Caterpillar

This caterpillar reminded me of the Ladybird larvae and I was excited to see it coming to the rescue from the aforementioned aphid attack. Looking closer it’s clearly larger and is in fact the caterpillar of the Citrus Swallowtail Butterfly which is beautiful. For that reason this one gets left alone. It’s amazing what you can get away with when you’re handsome, I should know.

Papilio aegeus caterpillar (Citrus Swallowtail Butterfly)


Leaf-Curling Spider

While not exactly a pest of the Citrus plants this fella does like to associate himself with them. Not harmful to humans, the male and female spiders live within the protective curled leaf and eat whatever lands on their web. Creepy looking but no harm.

Leaf-curling Spider. Phonognatha graeffei


Once the sun goes down and the temperature drops I’ll be out there sorting these infestations.

Singapore Botanical garden 

Singapore Botanical Garden

Holiday Horticulture: Singapore Botanical Garden

My wife and I spent a long morning exploring the Singapore Botanical Garden during our recent New Years Eve city break. As usual when I’m on my travels I like to seek out an interesting garden or patch of nature as an antidote to the city.

This was a warm and sticky overcast day but with plenty of water and lots to see it was a fantastic activity for a tropical weekend away.


Entry Fee: FREE!!

Opening hours: 5am until 12 midnight daily

Boardwalk through lush tropical planting
Boardwalk through lush tropical planting

How to find the Singapore Botanical Garden

Map of Singapore
Map of Singapore
Local roads and public transport links to Singapore Botanical Garden
Local roads and public transport links to Singapore Botanical Garden

We took a local bus from our hotel to the Tanglin Gate Entrance at the south end of the garden. We walked through the gardens in a northerly direction and used the MRT (Botanic Gardens stop) back.


  • Bonsai Garden
  • Sun Garden
  • Children’s Garden
  • Evolution Garden
  • Healing Garden
  • Fragrant Garden
  • Ginger Garden
  • Orchid Garden (Home of the National Orchid Collection)
  • Foliage Garden
  • Trellis Garden

Main Features

  • Bandstand
  • Swan Lake
  • Botany Centre
  • Heritage Museum

Plant Highlights

Vanda 'Miss Joaquim'
Vanda ‘Miss Joaquim’

The national flower of Singapore is the Orchid Miss Joaquim which was bred in the country from bringing together two native species.

Heliconia 'lobster claw'
Heliconia ‘lobster claw’

The exotic Heliconias are bright and eye-catching plants.

Petrea Volubilis
Petrea Volubilis

This climbing plant was seen in the Trellis Garden (designed to show the different ways of growing climbers within a garden). This plant is interesting in that the colour of the blooms intensifies as you get to the end of the panicle.

Mussaenda pubescens
Mussaenda pubescens
Delonix regia
Delonix regia


Wildlife within the Singapore Botanical Garden

Monitor Lizard
Monitor Lizard

Monitor Lizards roam free through Singapore but tend to stick to the parks and more rural areas. We stayed far enough away not to bother it and not to put ourselves too close to those teeth.

Other Botanical Garden Visits

Phuket Botanic Garden

RHS Wisley, Surrey, UK

Bicton Botanical Garden, Devon, UK

Gardens By The Bay, Singapore

Your garden can take you around the World


Travellers in your own back garden

Your garden can take you around the World. I have been posting lots of updates following some holidays around this part of the world. As we are due to return back to the northern hemisphere in a couple of months we’ve been taking the opportunity to visit some amazing places that are currently within relatively easy reach. This week I’m bringing things a little closer to home and exploring the origins of some of the plants currently surviving in our Australian garden

The Balcony

This space is wonderful for having a glass of wine at the end of the day watching the last of the beachgoers packing up. It has claimed its share of victims with a failed attempt to grow citrus here (now safely hidden around the back away from the worst of the sea spray) and a whole batch of ‘seaside’ plants sourced from a local nursery. The third attempt was to go succulent and it’s worked really well. I stayed away from this group of plants because I’ve not been overly fond of them. I think that’s changing.

  • Echeveria (I’m not sure of the variety) – S america
  • Euphorbia milii – Madagascar
  • Murraya paniculata (Orange Jasmin) – China & South-East Asia
  • Crassula ovata – South Africa
  • Crassula ovata ‘Gollum’ – South Africa (the leaf shapes are completely different)

The Back Terrace

A shadier area where the citrus trees have been recuperating from their ordeal on the balcony. All plants are in pots and being shaded it has been easier to keep their moisture levels up but it’s not been perfect as we have had no fruit survive on the Peach and Nectarine trees. There is a native Strobilanthes anisophyllus ‘Goldfussia’ (which isn’t looking its best so didn’t make the gallery).

  • Capsicim (Chilli) – South America
  • Citrus hystrix (Kaffir Lime) – southeast asia
  • Callistemon viminalis ‘Hannah Ray’ (Bottlebrush) – Australia
  • Trachelospermum jasminoides – Southeast Asia

The Lawn Borders

These plants are planted in the permanent borders that flank the lawn. The large Lilly Pilly headges are the main feature down both sides but at the end there is a line of Phormiums with a plant that looks like Maize planted behind. It’s never produced any fruit so I have no idea if it is or isn’t.

  • Phormium tenax – New Zealand
  • Banksia integrifolia – Australia
  • Acmena smithii (Lilly Pilly)- Australia


So we have some native Australia plants making friends with the New Zealanders. Southeast Asia and China are represented, as are the South African and South American plants although, notably, there’s nothing from Europe and the plants that are from the Northern Hemisphere are from the southern/equatorial regions. It’s amazing how much diversity can be lurking in one garden and the range of plant origins that can all survive together. Plants are amazing.

How many countries are living in your garden?

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

This could be the most impressive urban garden in the world

Continuing this series of reports about the gardening highlights we’ve experienced during our recent holidays.

The Singapore skyline seen above the Grey Garden
The Singapore skyline seen above the Grey Garden

A highlight of my recent trip to Singapore was a visit to the Gardens by the Bay which has been on my bucket list since I first saw glimpses of it in a magazine article. Singapore is hoping to be a City in a Garden rather than a Garden City. The wider bay is a development on reclaimed land which is a new focus for the city and the site of the New Year’s Eve fireworks. The garden development consists of three larger sites named the Central, East and South Gardens. The most iconic of these is the South Garden with its grove of Supertrees. Since we were only staying in Singapore for a few nights we only visited this garden.

Gardens by the Bay Map

Gardens by the Bay Map
Gardens by the Bay Map showing the Bayfront MRT
Gardens by the Bay Map
Map showing location of Gardens by the Bay in Singapore

How to get to the South Garden

The nearest metro station is the Bayfront station located next to the Marina Bay Sands Hotel complex. From there you walk through the hotel lobby and over a skybridge into the garden proper.

An alternative is to get to the Tanjong Pagar metro station and take the 400 bus which drops you at the garden entrance.

It’s possible to walk directly from the city around the bay and into the gardens. One word of caution though – the distances covered are huge and that’s before you even get in to the garden. Pace yourself.

Entrance Fees

Entry to the wider garden is free. To enter the Conservatories or the Sky walk there is a fee (see below). If you’re looking for a beautiful walk for the day then utilising the free entry means you see the attractions from the outside and get to enjoy the main gardens on a thrifty budget. For those visiting just for the day then the Skywalk and Double Conservatory price is definitely worth paying for a full experience.

  • Skyway SG$8
  • One Conservatory SG$12
  • Both Conservatories SG$20

Garden Highlights

  • Flower Dome Conservatory
  • Cloud Forest Conservatory
  • Skyway
  • Supertrees Grove
  • Heritage Gardens
  • World of Plants
  • Silver Garden
  • Gold Garden

Flower Dome Conservatory

Pyrostegia venusta 'Orange Trumpet Vine'
Pyrostegia venusta ‘Orange Trumpet Vine’

The Flower Conservatory is a temperate zone showing plants from across the world. When we visited there was a Christmas display. It’s odd walking from a hot and humid environment into a cooler and drier conservatory as we’re so used to experiencing the other way around.

This bright climbing plant caught my eye (and my new camera’s lens) as we strolled around. I think I’ll try and source this back in the UK. I’m not sure yet whether it will be hardy enough but it can always be used as an annual.

Cloud Forest Conservatory

The waterfall within the Cloud Forest Conservatory
The waterfall within the Cloud Forest Conservatory

The mountain in this conservatory is planted with sheer walls of mountain plants displaying their variety of foliage types and colours with exotic orchids mixed in. The experience takes you through the levels of cloud forests and educational signage and displays highlight the strengths and threats to these environments.

A living green wall in the Cloud Forest
A living green wall in the Cloud Forest

Supertrees grove

Supertrees Grove
Vertical exotic planting seen on the Supertrees Grove

The Supertrees are designed to draw hot air up and away and collect rainwater for the garden. They are architecturally stunning but also provide planting opportunities. The Heritage gardens are located on a circular loop around the grove.

Bourgainvillea flowering on the vertical planting of the Supertrees
Bougainvillea flowering on the vertical planting of the Supertrees


Gardens by the Bay
Gardens by the Bay Skywalk

The Skywalk takes you above the gardens for a unique vantage point of the dense planting below. This semi-circle walkway is suspended from some of the Supertrees and gives great photo opportunities of the city skyline.

A world-class display of science and society striving for better

This has to be on anyone’s bucket list but I would especially recommend it for anyone interested in horticulture, gardening, urban development and planning, sustainable cities and architecture.

The grey garden
The grey garden


Garden Visit: Kew Gardens

Garden Visit Kew Gardens

A visit to Kew Gardens in November 2016

I have a few posts on the go detailing a trip I took to Thailand and Singapore over the festive season but this may get a little samey. Here are some images of my recent visit to Kew Gardens during my last trip back to the UK in November 2016. I have only previously seen the gardens in January so, although still a winter visit, it was good to see some variety.

How to get there

See for more details directions.

Entry price: £10 for adults with some concessions and membership options

Map showing the location of Kew Gardens
Map showing the location of Kew Gardens

The gardens are located in the west of Greater London. We drove there from nearby Surrey and parked along Kew Road which is free during the day on weekdays. There are some parking spaces available inside the gardens. There is the Kew Gardens underground station which is a short walk away and plenty of buses serving the area.


The Palmhouse

Kew Gardens, UK
Tropical planting in the world-famous glasshouse


The Temperate glasshouses was under some maintenance when we visited but there were plenty still open to enjoy. We watched an informative short film medley under the Princess of Wales Conservatory about the life-cycle of bees which feature a lot in the garden at the moment.

The Hive

The Hive at Kew Gardens
The Hive at Kew Gardens

The main installation present at our visit was The Hive. It was constructed in metal and linked with a living hive. You were supposed to watch the lights flickering in time with the activity in the real hive but this wasn’t working when we visited.

The Treetop Walkway

Treetop Walkway at Kew Gardens
Treetop Walkway at Kew Gardens

The newest part of the garden wasn’t there when I last visited and it was exceptionally exciting. You walk up the stairs onto the elevated walkway and stroll through the canopy of the trees. As the sun was setting it was a beautifully serene part of the day. There is a lift if you are physically unable to climb the stairs (or if you’re a lazy teenager apparently).

It’s nice to see such an old institution striving to introduce new elements of the garden. This one really adds to the already rich variety of displays and gardens.

Vegetable and Plant Family Gardens

I’m a bit of a organiser so I always enjoy a botanical garden with orderly displays. The plant family garden groups plants that are related to each other botanically into the same beds to enable comparisons and learning for the students. The vegetable garden is also a place where the students get to learn and it was looking pristine for the time of year. I’m so jealous of them!

Vegetable garden at Kew
Vegetable garden at Kew
Cosmos flowering in the vegetable garden at Kew
Cosmos flowering in the vegetable garden at Kew








And finally..

I got my first chance to see the broad border walk after getting a glimpse on a TV gardening program (I can’t remember which one at the moment but it’ll come to me – I’m too young for a senior moment!).

I new plant I had never seen before was lounging casually along a pergola near the toilets. Vitis doaniana is a lovely little climber with a very unusual metalic-teal coloured ‘grape’.

Vitis doaniana at Kew Gardens
Vitis doaniana at Kew Gardens

Phuket Botanic garden

A visit to Phuket Botanic Garden

During my recent Christmas break we travelled to Phuket, Thailand, to spend the time off with my in-laws. Never one to miss an opportunity for seeing plants we duly took the car to explore the island’s attractions. Top of the list was the Phuket Botanic Garden which is located south west of the city of Phuket and on the other side of the island from the main tourist areas of Patong Beach, Karon Beach and Kata Beach.

How to get there

We had a hire car for the week so made our own way to the gardens. It was well signposted from the major routes and there was free parking to the side of the main entrance.


Open 0900 – 1700 (closed Wednesdays)

98/89 Mu 4 Chao Fa Rd., Chalong Subdistrict, Muang District, Phuket 83130 Thailand


Entry fee for non-locals was 500 Baht (£11.50) (A lot of tourist attractions will offer a much cheaper entry fee for locals able to provide photo ID which I think is excellent)

Some of the plants on display
Thalia geniculata, the bent alligator-flag, arrowroot, or fire-flag. Marginal plant with dierama-like flowers.
Nephrolepis falcata furcans. Fishtail Swordfern
I couldn’t resist showing you this little lady
Cyrtostachys renda (red sealing wax palm or lipstick palm  The Garden Areas

 The Garden Areas

  • Herb Garden
  • Orchard
  • Sufficient Garden
  • Orchid Garden
  • Fern Garden
  • Cactus Garden
  • Rain Forest
  • Japanese Garden
  • English Garden
  • Bali Garden
  • Waterlily Garden
  • Palm Garden

Inside the Garden
The plantings are lush and tropical
The first area you arrive in shows the quality of planting and design on offer

The impressively ornamental gates open onto the first area. Here there are fun displays and on our visit a large heart-shaped planting that looked like a photoframe. Of course we both did the obligatory posing for the holiday album. Even though we only saw 2 or 3 gardeners during our visit the grounds were meticulously maintained. The paper map was useful for getting your bearings but you couldn’t get lost as there is one main loop that you walk along with the featured gardens opening on each side of the path.
A large Koi pond at the furthest point in the garden where you can buy food to feed the fish.

We visited on a weekday on the run up to Christmas. I don’t know what the tourist season is in Phuket but most of the places we visited were lacking the people to keep them open. There were two other couples walking around the garden when we visited so it was lovely and quiet.
Looking through a gap in the wall from the main path into the waterlily garden.


There were some beautiful plants on display and often there were plant labels to inform you of what you were looking at. However I have still had to spend some time tracking down the proper ID for lots of the things that caught my eye which is no great hardship and I find this with all botanical gardens I visit. Still, I had a great time playing with my new camera (a Christmas and Birthday present).


Some of my other botanical garden days out

Mount Tomah, NSW, Australia

Bicton Garden, Devon, UK

RHS Wisley, Surrey, UK
One of the smaller gardens featured include the fruit / productive garden.
Waterlily flowering
Costus woodsonii – also known as the spiral ginger


Garden Visit – Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons

Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons

To celebrate the birthday of my lovely wife we decided to treat ourselves to a mini break whilst we were visiting the UK.

We chose Oxford and The Cotswolds, primarily due to the location of a few notable gardens and a long-term desire to spend the night at Raymond Blanc’s famous hotel.

How to get there

It’s an easy drive from London on the M40 and a 10 minute trip out of Oxford to get to the gardens. We were staying the night so were able to explore the gardens in the evening and first thing in the morning. The grand gates signal that you’ve arrived outside the hotel but you have to get very close to be able to read the golden signs clearly. I drove past this entrance twice!!

Garden Visit - Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons

The Highlights

For me the best parts of the garden were the potager / greenhouse area and the Old Orchard which has recently been redesigned by Chris Beardshaw with perennial underplanting.


List of Gardens


  • English Water Garden
  • Orchard
  • Old Orchard
  • Japanese Garden with Tea House
  • Polytunnels
  • Mushroom Valley
  • Herb Garden
  • Vegetable Garden / Potager

The Vegetable Garden

Walking around the quiet vegetable garden as the sun went down was a highlight of our recent visit back to the UK. We could smell the open fires burning and the air was crisp and cool. A perfect dry winter day. The paths are easy to traverse and the display of world-class productive gardening was impressive.

Garden Visit - Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons
Winter Squashes seasoning in the greenhouse
Garden Visit - Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons
Clay cloches / forcing jars lining the gravel path in the potager.


I spent a long time exploring the greenhouse shown below. I’ve taken the details to furnish my imaginary future garden. At this time of year they had a wide variety of chillies and peppers still producing in the sheltered environment. Also, as seen above, were the winter squashes seasoning.


Garden Visit - Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons
Can anyone say greenhouse envy?


The Orchard

At the furthest point of the grounds, on the other side of the main car park, you’ll find the new orchard. This is a fantastic display of over 800 varieties of fruit. The gardener encouraged us to take an apple to try with no hesitation. They were beautiful.

Garden Visit - Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons Garden Visit - Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons




The Old Orchard


GARDEN VISIT Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons
A view through the old orchard at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons underplanted with perennial beds designed by Chris Beardshaw.


The most popular twitter post I’ve ever had came from this image of Chris Beardshaw’s perennial planting design under the old Orchard. It is a magical area of the garden. I wish I could have spent more time sitting in there but it was dinner time and needs must.


How to visit the garden


One way to get access to the garden is to spend the night at the hotel. For those on a more sensible budget you can join one of the garden group tours which run regularly during the year. I haven’t done this tour but for Thirty Pounds and tea and biscuits included it would definitely be worth the money.

The surprising places to find horticulture: Singapore Airport Floral Displays 


Singapore leads the Green Cities of the world. I transferred through the airport on my way to a family Christmas in Thailand (more posts to follow) and was struck by the presence of a lot of horticulture on show before you even leave the airport.  A lot of this may have been due to it being 3 days before Christmas but I get the sense that there’s a lot on display for most of the year.

The Christmas Displays

The traditional pine trees of the northern hemisphere were well represented but mixed with a tropical display of Orchids and Poinsettias. I have since found out that the orchids on display were mainly the official flower of Singapore. This is Vanda ‘Miss Joaquim’. More on that to come in future posts.

The surprising places to find horticulture: Singapore Airport Floral Displays 
Vanda ‘Miss Joaquim’, Pointsettia and decorated pines
The surprising places to find horticulture: Singapore Airport Floral Displays 
Orchids, Christmas Tree and tropical planting
The surprising places to find horticulture: Singapore Airport Floral Displays 
Moth Orchid (Phalaenopsis) combined with pine Christmas Tree and tropical foliage

Airport Gardens

I was very excited to see signs to a Waterlily Garden and a desert garden. My excitement soon evaporated when I realised that these were simply outdoor spaces designated as smoking areas. Huge disappointment as I wasn’t able to explore them in any detail.

The surprising places to find horticulture: Singapore Airport Floral Displays 
The waterlily garden in Singapore airport.

The Green Wall

I had to go and give the plants a rummage to convince myself that this was in fact a collection of real plants on display and not simply some fakes lined up for show. What an example of what can be achieved in a low light environment! Very impressive.

The surprising places to find horticulture: Singapore Airport Floral Displays 

New gardening books for Christmas gifts 2016

gardening books for christmas gifts 2016

At this time of year it can be hard to come up with ideas for Christmas gifts for your loved ones. That can be especially true for gardening gifts as we’re a very particular lot. I know myself that most of the tat I see in garden centres – I’m looking at you novelty mugs and neon plastic hand tools – would require a very large effort on xmas morning in the ‘look like you’re pleased face’ department. You’d think that just buying someone a plant would be an easy win but at this time of year a garden centre or nursery can look a bit dismal to the untrained eye and if it’s not on the planting plan it doesn’t go in my garden.

One safe option should be a good gardening book. You’ll now know the obsession I have with gardening books. It’s dark and cold outside and curling up with a good gardening book seems perfect. Only if it’s a good book mind you. ‘101 fake houseplants’ or ‘dummies guide to plant care’ would be re-gifted without hesitation. What I’m looking for is not so much the ‘How to’ style of publication but books about gardening. Gardening has a wide variety of sub-genres to mine for book ideas (history, plantspeople and finders, historical gardens, species specific, instruction guides, travel, and many more) but the ones that have caught my eye this year look to be opinion, historical and ecological. A suitably vintage / illustrated cover also seems to be a requirement.

The Apple Orchard

I heard Pete Brown on a recent BBC podcast with Mark Diacono (of Otter Farm and River Cottage fame) and made a note to look up his most recent book. The poor chap has an allergy to the apples he was researching! The apple merges the horticulture, food, and history of gardening perfectly and I’m excited to delve in and learn more.

New gardening books for Christmas gifts 2016
The Apple Orchard


Okay, hands up, I know this isn’t technically about gardening but this list is for gardeners and who doesn’t love a bit of Monty?

It’s too soon since the loss of our beloved chocolate labrador to be diving in to this book just yet. I’m not making a Marley and Me mistake again. Monty has shown time and again through his published books and articles that he’s a master of words and I’m looking forward to learning more about him and his beautiful retrievers.

New gardening books for Christmas gifts 2016

Rhapsody in Green

The ‘look inside’ option on amazon is a really useful tool if you’re like me and can be easily annoyed by the voice of an author. There’s nothing worse than finding a good book ruined by irritating prose. My top peeves include overly tortuous metaphors and asinine turn of phrase. None of that with this writer. I chuckled in the first paragraph I read and I am very looking forward to getting my hands on this book.

The blurb suggests it’s content is a gardeners experiences managing a cramped urban garden and other thoughts.

New gardening books for Christmas gifts 2016
Rhapsody in Green

The Running Hare

I’ve not come across the author John Lewis-Stempel before. Looking into his bio I’m not sure why that is as his past catalogue looks to be right up my street. This book details the plight of the native hare in England as an example of the changes in the countryside due to modern agriculture.

New gardening books for Christmas gifts 2016
The Running Hare


John Wright will be familiar to some from his appearances on River Cottage over the years. He has spent a year foraging for his food in earlier works. In this book he takes you through the history of the hedgerow, and variations on alternative field boundaries.


The Sceptical Gardener

I’m always a little apprehensive when a collection of newspaper articles makes it into book format. There’s always a feeling of ‘bubble and squeak’ trickery in reusing material. However the reviews of this book look great. I love a different viewpoint approach and more than that I like the being more informed than the Average Joe so I can feel superior in my knowledge.

New gardening books for Christmas gifts 2016
The Sceptical Gardener

Explorers’ Botanical Notebook

I’m currently reading The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf and this new book immediately caught my eye. Having a peek at the inside pages provided by the publisher reveals images of the actual herbarium specimens and notes made by the explorers covered. It looks like a beautifully constructed book covering one of my favourite gardening topics.

New gardening books for Christmas gifts 2016
Explorers’ Botanical Notebook


We’ll see is Santa is being generous this year and with any luck I’ll be able to post a book review of one or more of these titles. Fingers (sticky with mince pies) crossed. What’s on your Christmas book list?