Garden Visit: Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens November 2017

Garden Visit: Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens November 2017. Tropical, Tropical plants, subtropical, subtropical plants, acer, autumn colour, winter day out, winter garden visit, herbaceous, autumn, autumnal colour, late summer garden design, garden, gardening, Dorset, South West, UK, RHS, RHS partner garden, RHS membership, RHS membership benefits.

Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens have been on my ‘must visit’ list for some time.

Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens have been on my radar for some time so I was pleased to finally get the chance to visit this month. The gardens are a showcase for what can survive and thrive in our climate. Aside from the favourable climate of coastal Dorset, the gardens have been planted with foresight and windbreaks to create microclimates.

Garden Visit: Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens November 2017. Tropical, Tropical plants, subtropical, subtropical plants, acer, autumn colour, winter day out, winter garden visit, herbaceous, autumn, autumnal colour, late summer garden design, garden, gardening, Dorset, South West, UK, RHS, RHS partner garden, RHS membership, RHS membership benefits.
Traditional path with interesting planting

I’ve had a week of annual leave and we decided to take a day out and make the short trip to Dorset. We make regular trips to Surrey but have never managed to combine the drive past the door with a visit. I’m planning a redesign of the top garden to incorporate more exotic and Australian planting and I was hoping to get some inspiration.

Garden Visit: Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens November 2017. Tropical, Tropical plants, subtropical, subtropical plants, acer, autumn colour, winter day out, winter garden visit, herbaceous, autumn, autumnal colour, late summer garden design, garden, gardening, Dorset, South West, UK, RHS, RHS partner garden, RHS membership, RHS membership benefits.
Gingko biloba hovering over the stream

How to find Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens

 

Garden Visit: Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens November 2017. Tropical, Tropical plants, subtropical, subtropical plants, acer, autumn colour, winter day out, winter garden visit, herbaceous, autumn, autumnal colour, late summer garden design, garden, gardening, Dorset, South West, UK, RHS, RHS partner garden, RHS membership, RHS membership benefits.

The gardens are located near Chesil Beach. We turned off the A35 at Bridport and followed the stunning coast road.

Useful Information

Website: https://abbotsbury-tourism.co.uk/gardens/

Entrance: A very reasonable £12.50  per adult at the gate. There are online discounts and RHS members get free entry at the end of the year.

Opening times: Open every day except 18th December to1st January. 10am to 5pm (or 4pm in winter)

Garden Visit: Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens November 2017. Tropical, Tropical plants, subtropical, subtropical plants, acer, autumn colour, winter day out, winter garden visit, herbaceous, autumn, autumnal colour, late summer garden design, garden, gardening, Dorset, South West, UK, RHS, RHS partner garden, RHS membership, RHS membership benefits.
Subtropical foliage

Around the garden

The gardens are organised into smaller areas and some larger ones. The cafe is a colonial-style building built in the old walled garden. There are grass borders, a large woodland area, and some formal ponds.

Garden Visit: Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens November 2017. Tropical, Tropical plants, subtropical, subtropical plants, acer, autumn colour, winter day out, winter garden visit, herbaceous, autumn, autumnal colour, late summer garden design, garden, gardening, Dorset, South West, UK, RHS, RHS partner garden, RHS membership, RHS membership benefits.
Sunny steps

The woodland area was looking great in November. The Acers were stunning and cast a glow over the pleasant walk. There was a great Gingko next to a stream looking great in its autumn yellow.

Garden Visit: Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens November 2017. Tropical, Tropical plants, subtropical, subtropical plants, acer, autumn colour, winter day out, winter garden visit, herbaceous, autumn, autumnal colour, late summer garden design, garden, gardening, Dorset, South West, UK, RHS, RHS partner garden, RHS membership, RHS membership benefits.
Contrasting leaf colours in the woodland

We took the pram and went for a gentle stroll around the grounds. There were some steps and some uneven ground but the paths are well marked and a clear wheelchair route signposted.

Garden Visit: Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens November 2017. Tropical, Tropical plants, subtropical, subtropical plants, acer, autumn colour, winter day out, winter garden visit, herbaceous, autumn, autumnal colour, late summer garden design, garden, gardening, Dorset, South West, UK, RHS, RHS partner garden, RHS membership, RHS membership benefits.
Gunnera alongside the pond

We went on a cool, dry, November day and there were plenty of interesting plants to see. The coffee was great and the facilities were of a high standard and very clean. There is a plant sales area but I was disappointed to see that most of the interesting plants I had noted weren’t for sale. It may be that these weren’t offered at this time of year. The selection there was nice, the plants looked healthy, but there wasn’t anything I can’t get anywhere else.

Garden Visit: Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens November 2017. Tropical, Tropical plants, subtropical, subtropical plants, acer, autumn colour, winter day out, winter garden visit, herbaceous, autumn, autumnal colour, late summer garden design, garden, gardening, Dorset, South West, UK, RHS, RHS partner garden, RHS membership, RHS membership benefits.
Acer in full autumn colours

Notable Plants

One of the great things about visiting gardens is the chance to meet new plants. I always have my camera handy for taking notes and pictures for research later.

I’ve seen Fasicularia bicolor in Australia and more recently at a hotel in Cornwall. It’s now familiar but I can never remember its name.

Garden Visit: Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens November 2017. Tropical, Tropical plants, subtropical, subtropical plants, acer, autumn colour, winter day out, winter garden visit, herbaceous, autumn, autumnal colour, late summer garden design, garden, gardening, Dorset, South West, UK, RHS, RHS partner garden, RHS membership, RHS membership benefits.
Fascicularia bicolor

I think this was the largest Gingko that I’ve seen and the yellow leaves made me stop and stare upwards.

Gingko biloba

The Pseudopanax was well labelled, as were a lot of the specimen trees, and it’s firmly on my wish list.

Garden Visit: Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens November 2017. Tropical, Tropical plants, subtropical, subtropical plants, acer, autumn colour, winter day out, winter garden visit, herbaceous, autumn, autumnal colour, late summer garden design, garden, gardening, Dorset, South West, UK, RHS, RHS partner garden, RHS membership, RHS membership benefits.
Pseudopanax laetus

I had to take to Twitter to find the identity of this plant. The fruit looked familiar but I just couldn’t place it. Thankfully, Dr Dale Dixon from The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney helped me out with an ID. This is also now on the wish list. Luckily Plant World Seeds lists it.

Garden Visit: Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens November 2017. Tropical, Tropical plants, subtropical, subtropical plants, acer, autumn colour, winter day out, winter garden visit, herbaceous, autumn, autumnal colour, late summer garden design, garden, gardening, Dorset, South West, UK, RHS, RHS partner garden, RHS membership, RHS membership benefits.
Solanum betaceum – the Tamarillo

Other UK Garden Visits

The Eden Project, Cornwall

Sussex Prairie Garden

RHS Wisley, Surrey, UK

Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons

Kew Garden

Garden Visit: Eden Project Cornwall October 2017

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If you’re holidaying in the UK there are plenty of world-class gardens to discover and Cornwall’s flagship is The Eden Project

During a mini-break staycation for our anniversary, my wife and I met up with my lovely gardening aunt for a day out to two Cornish Gardens. We visited the Eden Project in the morning and The Pinetum, which is just down the road from its more famous neighbour, after filling up on a pasty for lunch.

How to find the Eden Project

The safest route is to head towards St Austell and following the brown tourist signs to find the main entrance. Previously we’ve followed the Sat Nav and ended up coming through some small lanes. It’s probably a longer route on the main roads but at least you cant get lost.

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Useful Information

Website: www.edenproject.com

Entrance: an eye-watering £27 per adult at the gate.

Opening times – quite variable within the month. Somewhere between 9-9:30 and closing by 6pm. The biomes open later at 10am. It’s best to check for the day you’re planning on going.

Outside areas

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A view over the two large Biomes

The site is split into a few areas of note. The two main Biomes share a linkway which houses facilities and restaurant. One side is a tropical rainforest biome and the other house is a more arid, Meditteranean-like environment. There are purely ornamental plantings and on the steep slopes at the far end are various food crops from around the world on show.  It’s sold as a full day attraction, and it would have to be for the entry costs, but even with two gardening fans in the group we only managed 3 hours before it was time to move on.

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Sunflower planting in front of the Rainforest Biome

The biomes

The biggest draw is the two biomes. These amazing structures are the real highlights for me. It’s interesting visiting again after living overseas and spending some time in Thailand and Singapore as the rainforest biome. On my first visit the plants we alien to me and I didn’t find them that interesting. Coming back this year they’re now familiar, almost ubiquitous, and I found myself spending more time looking at the foliage and flowers.

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Inside the Rainforest Biome

The temperate biome has a special feature on Western Australia which is an interesting, if small, new addition.

In summary

I’m glad to have visited again as it’s been a good number of years since we were last there. That being said there’s nothing really new to see so if you’ve been in the last 5 years you’re not missing out. For the money spent it feels a bit overpriced, as impressive as the biomes are, it almost needs more here to keep your interest. We also noted that the amount of plant labeling is poor. Where plants are so international and unique you have to have labels to fully appreciate what you’re seeing.

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Grass borders on the slopes

Other UK Garden Visits

Sussex Prairie Garden

RHS Wisley, Surrey, UK

Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons

Kew Garden