Queens Park Botanic Gardens, Toowoomba

The botanic gardens in Toowoomba are a pleasant stop on a road trip

I’ve been traversing the East Coast of New South Wales, Australia, in a campervan with my wife and our dog. One of the many stops was to visit some relatives living in the West of Brisbane. We spent a day heading into the cooler hinterland where a higher altitude brings a relief from the humid conditions nearer sea-level. The higher, more inland, towns of Australia have a feel much more familiar to us Brits and show a wider range of street trees and historic buildings. Waiting for us there was the unexpected Toowoomba Botanic Garden.

Queens Park Gardens

To the East of the main town centre sits the Queens Park Gardens which contain the botanic gardens, playgrounds and cricket pitches.

The highlights were the mature trees and the fountains.

toowoomba botanical gardens
Vera Lacaze Memorial Fountains

These space-ship fountains looked great in the sun. What’s clever is that they’re all different sizes but that’s not so easy to see from the photo. The largest fountain is closest and they get smaller the further away they get. This clever trick of perspective makes them look like they’re stretching away into the distance. Such a clever design trick I’ll have to remember.

Botanical Gardens

The best thing about botanical gardens, apart from the free day out, is the opportunity to get close to some plants you wouldn’t have space for or may never have come across before.

toowoomba botanical gardens
Wollombi Pine (it lives behind a caged enclosure so I apologise for the interrupted view) 

The Wollombi Pine is an extremely interesting bit of botany of recent times. It was thought to be extinct and to only be found as fossilised samples but was rediscovered by chance in the 90s. Its natural location is a closely guarded secret to avoid people raiding the wild population for plants.  More work is being done to understand the genetics at play to inform research and conservation efforts. You’ve got ancient history, botany, science, conservation all unfolding in our lifetime – what could be better?

toowoomba botanical gardens
Grass Trees in a mixed border

The native grass trees are impressive with their soft fibre-optic-like foliage radiating out from the main stem. It can take 100 years to turn into the tree as it’s so slow growing. It adds an interesting addition to a mixed border.

toowoomba botanical gardens
Castanea sativa – Spanish Chestnut

This Chestnut was a strong impressive specimen just begging for a photo.

toowoomba botanical gardens
Hibiscus tiliaceus – Sea Hibiscus

I always find it funny seeing such large blooms on a tree. A very elegant specimen.

toowoomba botanical gardens
Hibiscus mutabilis – Confederate Rose

This tree looks like a white rose has been on steroids. I had never seen it before.

Other Botanical Garden Visits

Melbourne Botanical Garden

Singapore Botanical Garden

Phuket Botanic Garden

RHS Wisley, Surrey, UK

Bicton Botanical Garden, Devon, UK

Gardens By The Bay, Singapore

Where to get you gardening fix when you don’t have your own garden  

Finding opportunities for horticulture

Whatever your circumstances, if you have an interest in gardening and horticulture, there are many ways to find information and immerse yourself when your situation isn’t perfect. Lots of people have dreams of a rolling country estate with a perfect garden but most of us have to make do with what we’ve got. Whether our space is limited, if we are in a rental property where there is no access to proper soil, or if disability puts a limit to what can be achieved outside, here are some ways to join this wonderful community of gardeners.

Since moving to Australia 2 years ago I’ve come to rely on other sources of gardening entertainment when I haven’t been able to do much proper gardening as described here.


Top of this list is blogs. If you want to experience what it’s like to garden in the UK or further afield just find yourself a useful blog and live vicariously through others. Here are a couple  of my favourites;

Real Men Sow  – Jono takes you through the year by showing how much he has been able to grow in his allotment. He’s recently moved to a new garden so watch this space for new adventures.

The Patient Gardener  – Helen gardens in Malvern and shares the changing seasons through her blog that I’ve followed for a couple of years.


Podcasts are a great way to infuse your day with some gardening when time or chores don’t allow proper hands in the dirt gardening. Here’s the list of my top 5 UK Podcasts.


I brought a whole bookcase of gardening books with me when I moved. I’m always on the lookout for new releases and I have an amazon wishlist building for good Christmas and Birthday present ideas.

8 Books for my gardening bookshelf this Christmas

New gardening books for Christmas gifts 2016

Botanical Gardens

Wherever you find yourself there are always public and private gardens to visit. What always amazes me is how many of them offer free entry.

Melbourne Botanic Garden

Singapore Botanic Garden

Phuket Botanic Garden

Bicton Botanic Garden

Wildflower Hunting

Whether you’re in a rural or urban environment it doesn’t take much to explore your surroundings and find horticulture on your doorstep.

Singapore Airport

Down Under Wildflowers

Holiday Horticulture: Hayman Island

Holiday Horticulture: Italy 


How do you get your gardening fix?


Top 5 UK Podcasts for Gardeners  

Take gardening with you when you’re out of the garden

When you garden in the UK you have to accept that there will be some times when the weather makes it hard to spend as much time in the fresh air as you’d like. There’s a limit to what good wellies and a poncho can offer when it’s sub-zero and the wind wants you knocked off your feet! There’s also all the other demands on our time, be it commuting or house chores, so it’s not so easy to fully immerse yourself in gardening 24/7. This is where podcasts can come in handy.

I hate ironing. It’s one of the household chores that I actively avoid which explains why I’m often rifling through my wardrobe when it’s time to leave for work cursing my lack of forward planning when there’s nothing to wear. However, it’s a perfect task that can be completed whilst listening to the radio or, even better, a gardening podcast. Ironing is the perfect low-skill activity that uses the body without much supervision and can leave your mind open to taking in information. I have now expanded my podcast listening and incorporated it into my commute as well. Here are a few of my favourites.

My top 5 UK podcasts for gardeners

Gardeners’ Question Time

Publisher: BBC Radio 4

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qp2f/episodes/downloads

Gardeners' Question Time Podcast- BBC Radio 4
Gardeners’ Question Time Podcast- BBC Radio 4

This was the first podcast I ever listened to after catching the end of a program when driving from Surrey to Devon many years ago. It’s the perfect length for ironing as I manage to get through one load of washing per episode. It makes the chore go by so much faster.

It takes the form of a panel show with a rotating panel of experts answering questions from the audience. Each week comes from a new setting so there are varied conditions explored. They also have features when the panel go out to local landmarks/sites/gardens/nurseries and learn a little more. It’s good-natured and always guaranteed to raise a titter with inadvertent innuendo.

Gardens Illustrated Podcast

Publisher: Gardens Illustrated Magazine

Source: http://www.gardensillustrated.com/podcasts

Gardens Illustrated Podcast
Gardens Illustrated Podcast

This erratically released podcast comes from one of my favourite magazines. They have exclusive interviews and talks, often from world-leading garden designers, and coverage from gardening shows. My highlights last year were the episodes talking with Sarah Raven and Anna Pavord.

RHS Gardening Podcast

Publisher: The RHS

Source: https://www.rhs.org.uk/about-the-rhs/publications/podcasts

RHS Gardening Podcast
RHS Gardening Podcast

Great for beginners, but often too simplistic for enthusiastic amateurs and above, this podcast has a variety of elements including listeners questions and interviews with key RHS employees. It’s a useful way of keeping up to date with the events and shows that the RHS put on. A new episode is made each fortnight.

Sow, Grow, Repeat

Publisher: The Guardian

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/series/sow-grow-repeat

Sow, Grow, Repeat - The Guardian
Sow, Grow, Repeat – The Guardian

I haven’t been a long-term listener to this one but I’m working on it. Seasonal episodes presented by Jane Perrone with Alys Fowler answering reader questions. They focus on clear topics, be it seasonal tasks or a particular plant, with good information classily delivered.

The Sod Show

Publisher: The Sod Show

Source: http://www.sodshow.com/

The SodShow Garden Podcast
The SodShow Garden Podcast

Another new podcast that’s won its place on my regular list. This guy Peter Donegan actually made me laugh out loud whilst walking the dog the first time I listened. That’s a 5* outcome in my book. It takes the form of guest interviews with an impressive list of previous guests. They show no snobbery in inviting people on to speak; I’ve heard world-class nursery-folk and garden designers back to back with bloggers and authors. Peter has a way of asking just the question you’d like asked with an awesome turn of phrase. I’m looking forward to a pint of Guinness with him one day.

What’s your favourite UK Podcast?

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.

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  • 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).

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  • 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.

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  • 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 www.kew.org 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


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