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 – 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.

Birthday trip to Bicton Botanical Gardens

Orchid flowering in the Bicton Botanical Garden

A Birthday Day Out

Last Saturday was my birthday and since my fiancée and I are on thrifty street at the moment we decided to go for a cheap day out to mark the occasion. What’s the best thing to do on a cool and rainy day in Devon? We decided to make a short trip to the Bicton Botanical Garden near Honiton. Despite it only being half an hour away from where we live we’ve never been there before. However we found it was an RHS partner garden so I would get in free with my membership.

How to get there

 

Bicton Botanical Garden Map
Bicton Botanical Garden Map

It’s well signposted from the a30 and took us about 2 hours to see what we wanted to. However at £8.95 for an adult the ticket was a little pricey.

List of Areas

  • Glasshouses – Arid, Tropical, Temperate
  • Italian Garden
  • American Garden
  • Mediterranean Garden
  • Rose Garden
  • Woodland
  • Winter Garden

What to see

Despite it being the very beginning of January there was plenty to see. The witch hazel was in full bloom and the camellias were just about to burst.

Witch-hazel in bloom. Hamamelis
Witch-hazel in bloom. Hamamelis

The main disappointment was the children’s play areas and the gift shop. I understand botanical gardens need to generate funds to continue, and it can’t be easy, but these areas blotted the grounds. The children’s area was run down and wasn’t very inspiring. The gift shop was mostly empty, perhaps they were doing a stock-check, but only contained the usual tat found in every run down garden centre.

The best part of the visit was seeing their collection of mature trees that are all looking beautiful.
Despite the storm that had swept through in the days before and the local flooding, the gardens looked immaculate. The casualties had already been cleared and shredded and all the paths were open.

Camellia flowering
Camellia flowering

It’s a lovely way to spend a couple of hours. Even better to have 2 quiet hours with the other half.

Other botanical garden visits

Mount Tomah, NSW, Australia

RHS Wisley, Surrey, UK