Friday, 22 April 2011

Where to visit this weekend... The Botanics & Parks

If you’re looking for somewhere to visit over the next few days I’d definitely recommend your nearest Botanical Garden. They are always great for a ‘nice day’ wander for people of all ages and with the weather expected to be warm here in the UK there are plenty of trees for shade too. Generally there will be cafes and a gift shop too if a break/rest is required. Look out for special events just now too.

Naturally, I’d be recommending my local one… The Royal Botanical Garden Edinburgh (or Edinburgh Botanics as we know it). Earlier this week my (teenage) daughter requested we visit and armed with my camera, we can share some highlights with you. Perhaps we might put you in the mood to mosey on down to your local garden or park.

We entered the garden by the new entrance (The John Hope Gateway) at the West Gate. After a drive to the garden we usually begin our visit with a coffee stop. Although there is the nice new Gateway Restaurant my daughter favours the Terrace Café inside the Garden as this is where we have always gone. I'm fine with that :-)

Refreshed, we usually head down the hill to my fav area which is the Chinese Hillside where some wonderful yellow flowers greeted us at the entrance. I love the trees in this compact area and there was a wealth of new leaves in a variety of colours too.

Lol… my bee(dy) eye spotted some movement on the ground at the edge of the winding paths. I’ve bee(n) noticing, in my own garden, that the bees spend a lot of time on the ground in between feeding on plants. Butterflies do the same although they tend to favour dry dusty earth, gravel or paving.






With Spring being a great time for alpine flowers the plan on this visit was to head next to the Rock Garden. However between the Peat Garden and Woodland Garden I was to stop in my tracks!

I swooned over a single delicate pink Trillium on one side of the path. If this was Botanical Painting worthy then the mass planting of white Trillium grandiflorum on the other side was Photographer’s dream. Being very much an amateur there... I tried to get arty.

Every Spring I so admire Trilliums in garden blogs and here they were again! I really have to add this plant to my garden - perhaps to the area I am clearing at the moment :-)






Walking through the Woodland garden a beautiful pink Rhododendron with dark freckles caught my eye. The Rhododendron is listed as one of the Garden highlights in April. There are many in flower around the garden at the moment.

However… once again I was stopped in my tracks with a stunning Trillium... this time chloropetalum. This was one of my April highlights. Isn’t it a beauty?





My plan was to view the Rock Garden and Stream from the top down for a change. We walked along the top path and chose a short set of back steps to the summit.

Although much colour could be seen in the many pockets and slopes it was the small delicate flowering alpines that always catch my eye as they bob about in this area of the garden. For me, they give the rock garden sparkle and magic.




A few steps up and with the thin soles on my daughter's shoes and visitors stopped on the paths causing some congestion we opted for making a detour to the right. Looking down the Rock Garden it was looking well and it was great to see some many people enjoying it. Cameras and notebooks/pens were out in force :-)

Collecting links for this post I discovered that the red sandstones seen in this rock garden are from Dumfries. Now, that’s interesting timing as just a few days before that’s another trip we had. Another post to come there… not a garden visit this time :-)

On the edges of the Rock Garden the plantings were bigger and bolder and here the vibrant acid green of the Euphorbia flowers caught my eye with wonderful rich pink flowers in the background and tiny yellow flowers scrambling over rocks. We followed the gravel path round to quite a different area.




The Scottish Heath Garden in the corner was where we headed next. I do love this area and suspect many people miss it. I guess that’s the value of buying a guidebook or picking up/ printing off a map so you don’t miss anything. Here’s a link for a map for Edinburgh Botanics.

It was wildflowers, especially wood anemones, I was hoping to see in this part of the garden and I wasn’t disappointed. However, another plant with delicate lilac-veined flowers and wonderful clover type leaves caught my eye too.

Wildflower ID’s are still new to me and looking at my book now I see it was Wood Sorrel I had spotted. Although I should point out that my photo was taken with a flash so the colour isn’t as true.

Widespread, locally common and an indicator of ancient woodlands and hedgerows - it has my attention! It has a creeping perennial with trefoil leaves which fold down at night and it flowers from April-June. ..Mm… think it’s time to check out the internet seed sites :-)






Coming out of the Heathland we pass some flowering Gorse which is a very familiar sight on road and hillsides just now. Pre blog I saw this plant, with its strong prickly habit, as being a pretty inhospitable plant. Now… I see it as a safe place for the wonderful long-tailed tit to choose to nest in! As the RSPB says… aren’t birds brilliant :-)

Next, it was the pond area that I was interested in and after just removing the winter protection from my Gunnera, I wondered how the large planting was looking here. Especially at this time of year, this plant looks so prehistoric! Stunning white blossom on trees to the right caught my eye first though. What a dreamy sight.





Walking towards viewing area at the pond the sight of a pair of waders now caught my eye and made me smile. With gloves, rope and a few other things on the ground I found myself looking for a sign saying gone to lunch ;-)

I love to see gardeners tending a garden on my visits and there was quite a few about at the beginning of the week as you might imagine with many visitors expected over the next few days. The garden was looking good here with pink blooms from the Bergenia, the prehistoric mass planting and fresh new growth of perennials and ferns.

Fern fronds also look wonderfully prehistoric to me and I have a few unfurling in my garden just now too. I loved the mossy rocks… water passes over them in the summer and under the path/bridge where it flows into a pool then into the main pond. I’ve spotted Moorhens here in the past.






Continuing round the edge of the pond I followed a winding path through more plantings of perennials and grasses fresh with new growth. However, my daughter deserted me on this leg. Lol… actually she was quite literally thinking of the safety of her legs!

Two Swans were preening towards the end of this path. I decided, as I had my camera and could get photos, I’d continue. However, it was clear when I got close to them that one was keeping an eye on me and stopped and stared. Quietly, keeping the same step pace as I had approached them, I walked past not daring to stop and take snaps. I’m confident that was the right move on this occasion.

Walking round to the pond viewing area at the opposite end from where we started I could see how low the water level was. Lol… it doesn’t always rain in Edinburgh ;-) I’m guessing the gardeners were taking advantage of the lower water levels to do some pond clearing work.





My tour guide work is almost done now. Having an appointment to get back to our steps quickened.

Keeping to the paths we past the main Glasshouses on the right, the Azalea Lawn on the left and walking round end of the Glasshouses we past the Fossil Garden on the right.

Up a few steps we quickly walked through the Alpine House and Courtyard then quicken our steps some more… up the hill, through the tall evergreen hedging and up to the Herbaceous Border and Beech Hedge. Phew… I’ll let you catch your breath now ;-)

What a spot to catch your breath too… that border is a wonderful sight fully in flower but I do love it at this time of year. Wheelbarrows, tools, trucks and gardener’s jackets are just out of shot on the left :-)




For those interested in this wonderful Beech hedge it is 8 metres (23ft) high and over 100yrs old. Clipping is done in September via a mobile scaffolding tower. The hedge is south-facing and provides the perfect suntrap for a herbaceous border. As for the wonderful, natural plant support frames you can see… they are woven birch branches. Don’t they look great?

Searching through the website of the garden there are so many other things I could tell you about but I’m hoping a nice day beckons and you are about to step away from your PC/Laptop and get out to enjoy it.

I’ll leave you with one final thought from Edinburgh Botancial Gardens… Be prepared to be delighted and disgusted in equal measure! From aphrodisiacs to zest, explore a multitude of hidden chemicals used by plants to attract and repel, seduce or poison their neighbours.

Has this got your interest? If so, the Scents and Sensitivity Glasshouse Trail is running until Mon 25th April. Just pick up your self-guided trail at the Palm House. No extra cost to the Glasshouse admission charge (Adult £4.00, Concession £3.00, Child £1.00, Family £8.00, Members free). No booking required. Have fun with a chemical quiz through the magnificent glasshouses of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

Enjoy your weekend, wherever you go, and if you’d like to pop back and tell us all about it we’d love to hear about it. However, if you’ve already made plans and would recommend a visit please do share it in the comments :-)

10 comments:

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Oh Shirley, how I wish I could walk those paths with you. Such a beautiful place. Thanks for virtually taking me there.

David Marsden said...

Very jealous, Shirl. Looks fantastic and had me drooling (not a pretty sight). Like you, I always think - trilliums, must plant trilliums. Course, I never do. Have now written it down in my little notebook - so it may actually happen. Thanks for that.

Dave

Joe said...

Hi Shirl,

Looks like a great garden walk, and some great photos too. Thanks for sharing :)

Janet said...

I'm looking forward to our first visit to the Botanics in St Andrews. it's a wee gem.

Planted trilliums in our last garden. they take ages to bulk up. Thye'll be about ten years old now. Wish I had brought them with us to Montrose.....

Janet/Plantaliscious said...

Lovely tour. Wish I had been interested in gardens and gardening when I lived in Ediburgh, but to my shame I never visited. Great photos.

ST said...

Well,
i won't be there over the long weekend (better half working), but i will be there in the near future.
Always a joy

Mike said...

Cracking pics Shirl, you show the place off really well, Ive had a few travels up your way recently and if it didn't take me 6+ hours to get there I would be up every weekend just love it.

Mike.

shirl said...

Thanks everyone for taking the time to comment here. Sorry, I've been slow with my replies. I'll get back to you all very soon :-)

shirl said...

Hello again everyone, hope you’ve all been enjoying your gardens and getting out and about :-)

Lisa, I’m delighted you enjoyed your virtual walk. Perhaps one day we may enjoy a garden walk together either here or in the US :-D

David, I suspect you have gardens in your area that I would be very jealous of too. The Priory (where you ‘work’) looks fantastic. Drooling over plants… that sounds familiar :-) Re the trilliums, I did get one step closer this year… I looked for them in a garden centre a few days after this visit. Didn’t find any :-(

Joe, it is a nice walk for people of all ages. Lots of paths which is nice too. Thrilled for you that you have your own nestbox family in your garden this year… you’ve chicks now too! Brilliant. Enjoy :-D Looks like no action here this year. Ah well… we were lucky last year :-)

Janet, Ah… been to St Andrews Botanics once many years ago. Keep meaning to go back. Yes, it’s a gem that’s tucked away a little isn’t it. In all the years we have visited St Andrews I never knew where it was. Dundee Botanics is a nice visit too. Once again, only since Blogging did I venture in there. Because of its location, we have popped back a couple of times since. Gosh, I see you’ve been quite busy with blog posts. I must return later! Oh… interesting point on the Trilliums… guess they won’t like be moved then. Shame you left yours behind. Hope the new garden keepers of that garden realise how special they are :-)

Janet/Plantalicious, glad you too enjoyed it especially when you’ve lived in the City. It’s often the way that we miss things close to home isn’t it. Although in your case, you weren’t looking at that time. I guess, it is the birds & wildlife opportunities that I’ve missed in the past. SWT Reserve Loch of the Lowes we drove past so many times and only since blogging did I venture in. I wish I had visited there before too :-)

ST, well Steve… nice to see you up in this area. Enjoy your visit :-D

Mike, I’m guessing Scotland as a destination for your photography is a popular one too. Like you Linnets, haven’t seen them here yet. Look forward to seeing more from your trip. From memory, you visited a few years ago didn’t you? I hope the long journey was worth it. It’s a pity it’s so far. I always feel the same when we go South. It’s a long and busy road usually :-)

ShySongbird said...

Hi Shirl, I thought I had already commented on this post! Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed it and the photos are lovely. I agree, Trillium chloropetalum (which I was not familiar with) is a real beauty! I loved the Euphorbia photo too.

You had me completely fooled with the 'pair of waders' :) my one track mind had me looking for a pair of birds ;)

A very enjoyable walk with you Shirl.