Saturday, April 22, 2017

A botanic garden in Bristol

One cannot swing the proverbial (and definitely not literal) cat in Britain without hitting a wonderful garden. Most visitors think of the elegant and artistic gardens one finds so frequently at stately homes or at one of the National Trust properties. But for the terminally nerdy, botanic gardens are our cup of English tea. I was lucky enough to be invited to speak to the Friends of the University of Bristol Botanic Gardens' lecture series this month--and a bonus was spending several hours touring the collections and meeting a number of the staff, thanks to the efforts of Patti Davie and Sally Meadows, who were our Cicerones. And this marvelous Wisteria was the kickoff to our visit!

Many of the plants I show will be familiar to regular readers, and I don't want to drone on...but I found the plantings of this garden to be well worth visiting: practically every plant there was robust and well grown! A very fine collection in a compact setting of only a few acres--beautifully maintained and interpreted.

Cyclamen repandum in fine fettle!

I know this looks a tad scraggly: but this is a true, wild sourced Cheddar Pink from the nearby gorge...Dianthus gratianopolitanus: I was thrilled to see this in a native section of the garden.

A splendid meadow full of Anemone coronaria: Maybe these would grow for us like this?

A massive oak that antedates any buildings on the site. Good that a grove of these were preserved...

One of the best "ancient" gardens--all plants that are closely related to those that would have grown in the Mesozoic era...

The obligate grove of Monkey Puzzles..

Loved the ostrich ferns under the tree ferns.

Dryopteris wallichiana: a fabulous Himalayan fern

A lovely sculpture: a gift of a Chinese sister city (Guangzhou I believe) the Chinese Medicinal  herb garden.

Iris japonica looking happy in the Chinese herbal garden. Name notwithstanding, this is very much Chinese.

The native rock with an ancient yew--likely original as well...

Magnolia floribunda--a new one for me.

A spectacular form of Podophyllum.

A seedling of 'Stuart Boothman'--a tad different from the true cultivar I showed in a previous blog,

The new foliage on Pieris formosana always amazes me.

One of the best stands of Lunaria rediviva I've ever seen! I need this plant!

Great contrast on Japanese maples...all well labeled (and I forgot to photograph those labels--sorry!)

Camassia cusickii--great to see fellow Americans

A champion Trillium rivale

Uvularia grandiflora

A Bellevalia in the Mediterranean garden that impressed me...

More shots of the Mediterranean garden


An enormous Osteospermum I'd like to grow and compare with ours.

Several Sophora in the New Zealand garden

Various groundcovers in the Zealand garden

A lovely garden dedicated to weeds: I really liked this concept--and its elegant execution. Of course there must have been dozens of plants that stowed away as seeds in the ballast of the many ships that moored in Bristol during the great age of sailing! When plant introduction wasn't viewed so skeptically!

Prettiest weeds ever.

State of the art greenhouses

All well  maintained and very clean

And attractive

Patti Davie, chair of the Friends of the University of Bristol Botanic Gardens' board, who generously hosted us and showed us around that afternoon

I never tire of Canary Island Echiums--especially the blue ones!

A superabundance of water lettuce: would have loved to take a few off their hands!

Tacca chantrieri--the famous Bat flower in bloom

Aeonium tabuliforme always fascinates

Jan Fahs, (my life partner) and Penny Harms, Greenhouse supervisor

Wouldn't you know one of the plants there I most admired and would want to grow was Ceterach officinarum--planted by Mother Nature and probably not on their gardens' inventory!

Curator Nick Wray (left) and horticulturist Andy Winfield

I recommend a visit to this garden if you should ever visit Bristol: the first city outside the Americas where I ever gave a talk (in April 1981)...good to come back again 36 years later. I hope I get back sooner than that!

1 comment:

  1. This is old style photography thought but yet very amazing and beautifully executed. The pictures of flowers, leaves, trees and other greenery is adding more color and meaning to overall photography.


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