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

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.

Information

www.sbg.org.sg

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.

Gardens

  • 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.

Heliconia
Heliconia
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

Phuket Botanic garden 

https://www.mypottingbenchblog.com/phuket-botanical-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.

www.phuketbotanicgarden.com

https://www.mypottingbenchblog.com/phuket-botanic-garden/

https://www.mypottingbenchblog.com/phuket-botanic-garden/

 

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

https://www.mypottingbenchblog.com/phuket-botanic-garden/
Thalia geniculata, the bent alligator-flag, arrowroot, or fire-flag. Marginal plant with dierama-like flowers.
https://www.mypottingbenchblog.com/phuket-botanic-garden/
Nephrolepis falcata furcans. Fishtail Swordfern
www.mypottingbenchblog.com/phuket-botanic-garden/
I couldn’t resist showing you this little lady
https://www.mypottingbenchblog.com/phuket-botanic-garden/
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

https://www.mypottingbenchblog.com/phuket-botanic-garden/
The plantings are lush and tropical
https://www.mypottingbenchblog.com/phuket-botanic-garden/
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.

 

 

https://www.mypottingbenchblog.com/phuket-botanic-garden/
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.

 

 

https://www.mypottingbenchblog.com/phuket-botanic-garden/
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

 

https://www.mypottingbenchblog.com/phuket-botanic-garden/
One of the smaller gardens featured include the fruit / productive garden.
https://www.mypottingbenchblog.com/phuket-botanic-garden/
Waterlily flowering
https://www.mypottingbenchblog.com/phuket-botanic-garden/
Costus woodsonii – also known as the spiral ginger

 

Holiday Horticulture: Hayman Island

Holiday Horticulture Hayman Island
Holiday Horticulture Hayman Island
Location of Hayman Island in the Whitsundays off the coast of Australia

 

Hayman Island is just off the coast of Queensland, Australia and adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef. We visited on a recent holiday to celebrate our wedding anniversary. I took the opportunity to explore the tropical plantings around the resort and we hiked over the top of the island.

My wife and I love to travel and I always try and find the local wildlife.

Sorrento and Amalfi 

Morocco 

 

This is the view from the top of the island overlooking the One & Only resort situated on Hayman Island.

Holiday Horticulture Hayman Island

The only way to arrive at the island and the One & Only resort is by a swanky boat. The glass of champagne and the air conditioning are welcome relief from the steamy Queensland heat.

Holiday Horticulture Hayman Island

 

Shapes and Colours

Below is a close up of the beautiful Fan Palm or Travellers palm (Ravenala madagascariensis) which is found all over the cultivated parts of the resort. Beside it sits the rivets of a type of Gum Tree bark.

Holiday Horticulture Hayman IslandHoliday Horticulture Hayman Island

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gum Tree Comparison

The variety of gums, or Eucalypts, is always impressive. I’m used to seeing Eucalytpus gunnii growing in gardens in the UK and for a while we had 2 flanking the top steps in our first home back in Devon. It would be interesting to see how large they’ve become after 6 years!.

The large-flowered varieties in Oz show a huge range of flower colours and shapes as you can see below.

Holiday Horticulture Hayman IslandHoliday Horticulture Hayman Island

 

Profit and Pest

 

There are imported bananas on the island to add a tropical backdrop to the pool areas. On the mainland there are huge swathes of agriculture dedicated to bananas and it was great fun on our honeymoon driving amongst them. The plant on the right is the Narrow leaf cotton bush (Gomphocarpus fruticosus). This is considered a pest in some parts of Western Australia. Up close it’s a lovely plant with perfumed white flowers. Displayed at the same time as the blooms are the spiky balls of the seed heads. Good fun!

Holiday Horticulture Hayman IslandHoliday Horticulture Hayman Island

 

It’s lovely seeing plants growing wild in their natural habitats. You can see why some gum trees just don’t thrive in the UK as here they’re growing in rocky sloped ground and being baked by intense UV light. Not the easiest conditions to recreate at home.

 

Holiday Horticulture Hayman Island

Holiday Horticulture Hayman Island

 

 

MyPottingBench: Down Under

Gardening Down Under is a little different for this expat in Australia

It’s now been 18 months since we arrived in Australia and I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the ‘gardening’ I’ve been able to do on the other side of the world.

It doesn’t feel like real gardening for a couple of reasons;

  1. The seasons are all wrong – not only am I upside down and the wrong way round with my seasons but even more confusing is that a lot of ‘summer’ crops are grown in winter as the summer can be too hot for them. Also things we normally grow as annuals, like the chillies, are perennial here.
  2. We are renting for the first time in our lives. This means trying to beautify what’s here without being able to change it. Boy does it need changing! The standard ‘yard’ is rough grass, poured concrete terraces and bonded metal fences. So I have been trying my best to become an expert container gardener and not getting my hands in the soil at all.

My first efforts at Australian Gardening using Australian Natives

MyPottingBench: Down Under
I started out with a few natives
MyPottingBench: Down Under
Quickly adding some citrus – here you can see a lime and half a grapefruit

A change of location and new challenges

After 6 months we moved to a nicer rental nearer the beach. We’re lucky to have one neighbour who has let their patch get away from them. Most of the houses have been rebuilt over the past decade which has left poor outside areas. It’s lovely looking out the side windows at a tropical garden – and the privacy that offers.

MyPottingBench: Down Under
View from the back of the second rental

Our second rental property has placed us right next to the sea. Which is beautiful but comes with salt spray – a condition I haven’t had to manage before. Initially I wanted the citrus plants to live on the balcony but the wind and salt upset them so much they needed rescuing. They dropped all their leaves and had to be nursed in a special area out the back dubbed ‘HDU’ (medical term high dependency unit for patients requiring more intensive care)

The second attempt was some native coastal plants – but that too didn’t work. I think the heat behind the glass balcony was too much for them so they withered and dried up. The newest attempt consists of succulent coastal plants and they’re doing amazingly well.

MyPottingBench: Down Under
New rental overlooking the sea with some challenging conditions

The fruit garden

I have a peach and nectarine trees growing in pots and they’re flowering at the moment. Very excited to get a crop off of these.

MyPottingBench: Down Under
Nectarine blossom
MyPottingBench: Down Under
Peach blossom

Success with citrus

Having almost killed these citrus trees, on more than one occasion, I am really pleased with how they are coming out of winter. I treated myself to one each of lemon, lime, grapefruit, and orange. We’ve had a crop off the lemons and made some delicious lemonade. They started as young bushes but I wanted to train them into standards – dreaming of an Italian terrace arrangement at some point. The grapefruit below was the only one not pruned accordingly as it was much smaller than the others.

Unfortunately we had an extremely windy day which managed to snap it in half. I was very glad not to have pruned it beforehand otherwise I’d have had no-one else to blame. It is recovering very well and actually looks healthier than all the others – just goes to show you should prune immediately after planting and reduce all shrubs by half. However the clusters of flowers are different to the other citrus so I’m a little concerned that it may be the rootstock flourishing – time will tell.

MyPottingBench: Down Under
The half grapefruit
MyPottingBench: Down Under
Orange blossom

 

I have a few more updates in the pipeline. Less gardening and more garden tourism but I hope you enjoy them.