Garden Visit: Eden Project Cornwall October 2017

Eden Project, Cornwall, Garden Visit, Garden Visit Eden Project Cornwall, Gardening, garden, garden blog, biomes, rainforest, autumn days out, UK, England, hortitourism, horticulture, science, glasshouse, greenhouse, tropical, arid, sunflower, grass border,

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.

Eden Project, Cornwall, Garden Visit, Garden Visit Eden Project Cornwall, Gardening, garden, garden blog, biomes, rainforest, autumn days out, UK, England, hortitourism, horticulture, science, glasshouse, greenhouse, tropical, arid, sunflower, grass border,

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

Eden Project, Cornwall, Garden Visit, Garden Visit Eden Project Cornwall, Gardening, garden, garden blog, biomes, rainforest, autumn days out, UK, England, hortitourism, horticulture, science, glasshouse, greenhouse, tropical, arid, sunflower, grass border,
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.

Eden Project, Cornwall, Garden Visit, Garden Visit Eden Project Cornwall, Gardening, garden, garden blog, biomes, rainforest, autumn days out, UK, England, hortitourism, horticulture, science, glasshouse, greenhouse, tropical, arid, sunflower, grass border,
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.

Eden Project, Cornwall, Garden Visit, Garden Visit Eden Project Cornwall, Gardening, garden, garden blog, biomes, rainforest, autumn days out, UK, England, hortitourism, horticulture, science, glasshouse, greenhouse, tropical, arid, sunflower, grass border,
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.

Eden Project, Cornwall, Garden Visit, Garden Visit Eden Project Cornwall, Gardening, garden, garden blog, biomes, rainforest, autumn days out, UK, England, hortitourism, horticulture, science, glasshouse, greenhouse, tropical, arid, sunflower, grass border,
Grass borders on the slopes

Other UK Garden Visits

Sussex Prairie Garden

RHS Wisley, Surrey, UK

Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons

Kew Garden

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

Screen Shot 2017-01-21 at 11

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

Skywalk

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

Garden Visit – Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons

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.

Greenhouse Construction 4 – MyPottingBench has a new home!

The finished product

After a few weeks, several trips to the DIY store and agricultural supplier, the circular saw catching fire and 2 re-designs, the greenhouse is done.

Well almost done; there are a few tinkering jobs that need finishing off, but essentially it’s ready to go.

The features

The Potting Bench

MyPottingBench sitting in its new home
MyPottingBench sitting in its new home

 

It’s nice to have a potting bench that’s sat at the correct height for me. This evening I pricked out 2 trays of nicotiana and zinnia with my back straight for the first time since moving into the cottage. I have potting bench has been lifted up off the gravel floor to avoid rusting as well as getting up to the correct height for me.

The back wall

The painted back wall bounces light around. I might add some hooks for convenient storage but I’ve decided to use the shelf for plants rather than storing sundries as it seems a shame to waste the space under glass.

The back wall will have things hung from it for easy reach.
The back wall will have things hung from it for easy reach.

 

The floating shelves

These are my floating shelves. They’re made from a simple wooden frame with wire mesh for the top. They’re wide enough to accommodate a full seed tray and crucially don’t block light from getting to the raised beds underneath. I wanted to make the most of the space available given the restrictions of the site. The space is multifunctional and needs to perform different roles. This greenhouse needed to be a potting shed, a way into the main garden shed and also a greenhouse so compromises had to be made. The compromise is the water does rain onto the bed beneath which can disturb young seedlings but I’ll have to see how it goes.

 

My floating shelves - they'll let light and water through to the raised beds
My floating shelves – they’ll let light and water through to the raised beds

My gorgeous puppy dog Mollie inspecting my efforts.

Another view of the floating shelves and the front outlook.
Another view of the floating shelves and the front outlook.

The front of the greenhouse looks out onto the stone barn that is a huge feature of the garden and I can see the back doors from there. I can also see if someone’s offering me a cup of tea so it’s win win!

And finally…

So here it is – my very first greenhouse ever and certainly the most complicated thing I’ve ever built on my own. I’m looking forward to seeing what I can achieve growing under glass.

'Door' attached to prevent further 'christening' by the cats
‘Door’ attached to prevent further ‘christening’ by the cats

 

Catch up on the Story

Construction Greenhouse: Part 1

Construction Greenhouse: Part 2

Construction Greenhouse: Part 3

 

Greenhouse Construction 2

Part 2 of the Greenhouse Construction Project

So I started the weekend with the basic frame in place. We’d taken advantage of some lighter evenings to get things started. After starting construction I realised I’d made some mistakes with the measurements. My vertical windows wouldn’t have fitted and would have left me with a doorway that measured only 20cm so I went back to pen and paper and did some head scratching before re jigging things. After a quick trip to the local DIY store work restarted and after much more heaving and pulling I got the roof into position.

Overreaching somewhat

Greenhouse Construction
The roof didn’t look quite right. Church-like was a rather unkind description from my family.

 

This is where things went really wrong!

The roof ended up being over 3m tall which is great for head height (I’m over 6 feet tall so it’s a bug bear of mine to be constantly stooping in greenhouses and poly tunnels) but it’s not so good for a couple of reasons;

1. Reaching the roof to attach the glass windows

2. Cleaning and maintaining said windows, or

3. The neighbours seeing out of their own window.

The reaction from the other half and my mother wasn’t overly positive (I nicknamed it The Chapel ). Initially I was going to go with it and see what the finished product looked like but having spent 10 mins swaying precariously at the top of my ladder trying to pull the first window into place I gave up. The roof is now off and I need to source some more wood before work can commence.

Taking a step back is sometimes a good thing

The flowering cherry had to be pruned to give space for construction but doesn’t look too butchered and gave us a nice table arrangement for Mothering Sunday. However, the 10 windows are now cleaned and painted so ready to be attached. So even though it currently looks like a cheap kissing booth all is not lost.

Greenhouse Construction Project
The Kissing Booth Style Greenhouse will be all the rage next year I’m sure

 

The Full Story

Construction Greenhouse: Part 1

Construction Greenhouse: Part 2

Construction Greenhouse: Part 3

Construction Greenhouse: Part 4

Exciting Project: greenhouse/glasshouse/coldframe/orangery!

Wooden-framed windows.

 

Greenhouse Project

This morning I got to have chocolate for breakfast. You’d think that would be the most exciting thing I’ve done today but you would be wrong. I borrowed the other half’s 4×4 and set off up the dual carriageway to collect 10 large glass framed windows. With the help of the amazing Gumtree I found the perfect missing piece of my exciting propagation project.

Wooden-framed windows.
The reclaimed wooden frame windows ready to be used in the new greenhouse project.

A glass-deficiency confession

For all my seedy enthusiasm I have an embarrassing secret. I have a glass deficiency. There is nowhere under glass to protect young plants and nowhere to germinate and establish seedlings. What I do have is my potting bench, inside our barn, and an electric propagator which has to be moved from the windowsill when we have guests. It’s not ideal.

However, all that is going to change. In addition to my lovely barn I have a garden shed (currently used to hold the tumble drier and a freezer we use at Christmas and the dog food) and a wood store (which is currently empty as it has an open side which renders it useless for keeping wood dry so the wood currently lives in the lovely barn). All the pieces of the puzzle but still all jumbled up. The grand plan is to merge the wood store and shed and construct a multifunctional garden building with dry storage in one end and a greenhouse in the other.

A contrarian confession

Time for my second confession: I don’t like greenhouses. Correction, I don’t like metal greenhouses. They’re fine for professional use but in a garden they’re more likely to be hidden away behind a screen than used as an aesthetic addition. Wooden-framed greenhouses, however, are beautiful, desirable (and expensive) features that you drool over in gardening magazines. As are Victorian glasshouses whose magnificent structures blend practicality and style.

In this vein I am hoping to great a vintage/reclaimed wooden glasshouse/greenhouse/coldframe/orangery look on a budget. The first bit of the budget cost £20 and I am smitten.

 

The Full Story

Construction Greenhouse: Part 1

Construction Greenhouse: Part 2

Construction Greenhouse: Part 3

Construction Greenhouse: Part 4