The Bogtrotter

Tag: garden

Sudeley Castle Gardens

by on Sep.05, 2012, under Britain, English Gardens

Tucked away in the northern edge of the Cotswolds, this formal garden has a variety separate gardens to suit most tastes.

Warm Border

Warm Border


The resting place of Henry VIII’s wife Katherine Parr, Sudeley Castle is set on the edge of the Cotswold escarpment just above the village of Winchcombe. Split into numerous distinctive individual gardens, it feels like visiting multiple different gardens in quick succession. And the gardens are also home to St Mary’s Church, where Katherine Parr’s body lies.

“The Queen’s Garden” is quite a large formal rose garden, with yew hedges surrounding several rose beds. (continue reading…)

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La Bambouseraie – a bamboo jungle in the heart of France

by on Jun.06, 2009, under France, French Experiences

Bamboo always makes you think of the far east – of China and Panda Bears. But tucked away in the foothills of the Cevennes in Southern France is a 15 hectare bamboo forest that provides an oriental oasis from the Mediterranean heat.

Bamboo Forest

Bamboo Forest

The Bambousarie park is a horticultural delight. As you would expect, much of the park is covered with waves of bamboo. But it is not a continuous monoculture, there are numerous varieties of bamboo from the blue-tinted Giant Bamboos rising over 20 metres into the sky to carpets of knee-high bushes, with a range of colours, shapes and sizes in-between.

There is even a small Laosian village set up to demonstrate how people use bamboo to create houses and other buildings, with small traditional garden plots dotted between.

Looking Up

Looking Up

As well as bamboo there is an impressive tree collection. Notably a column of Gread Redwoods (Sequoia) planted in 1861 that now climb 40 metres into the air, towering above the tallest bamboos. There are some of the largest Magnolias in Europe, great Oaks, and a 140 year old Ginko tree that stands over the Dragon Valley.

The Dragon Valley is a relatively new addition to the park – a Feng Shui inspired garden created by Eric Borja in 2000 (the year of the Dragon). With its colourful Acer trees, rolling landscape and Red Phoenix pagoda you really do feel you have been transported to the other side of the world.

Dragon Valley

Dragon Valley

Tucked away and easy to overlook are the smaller garden spaces that are equally inspiring. The water garden with it’s lotus flowers, the bonsai collection set over a pond, and the Victorian greenhouses which now house temporary exhibitions all bring another dimension to the park.

The Bambouseraie is easily accessible by car, but you can combine it with a trip on a steam train by taking the Train a Vapeur des Cevennes from Anduze or St Jean Du Gard and stopping at the Bambouseraie’s own station. Get more details on the park by visiting the Bambousaraie web site.

And if you get inspired by what you have seen you can buy your own plants at the nursery, and start creating your own oasis back at home.

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Kew Glasshouses – gardens for all seasons

by on Feb.20, 2009, under Britain, English Gardens

The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew are perhaps the most famous gardens in the country. It’s global importance is recognised by the fact that it has been a UNESCO heritage site since 2003. But while many people visit gardens in the summer – most don’t realise just how much Kew has to offer all year round.

Temperate House at Kew

Temperate House at Kew

I visited there in December and had a great day out. Whilst most of the outside flower beds are fairly bare, the historic glass houses offer up a series of delights for any garden enthusiast. There’s no better feeling on a cold winters day than walking into the misty tropical Palm House and being enveloped by the humid heat. The Palm House aims to recreate Tropical rainforest conditions, and the central trancept contains the tallest palms which are allowed to grow to their full height.

One of my favourite things to do at Kew is to climb up onto the walkways high up in the glass houses. In the Temperate House (the largest Glass house at Kew) you can look down on the world’s largest indoor plant – the Chilean wine-palm (Jubaea chilensis) which rises to over 16 metres tall. Being up in the rafters is a unique experience and gives you a completely different perspective on the plants and trees below.

Orchid in the Glasshouse

Orchid in the Glasshouse

The futuristic Princess of Wales conservatory has probably the most eclectic mix of plants, set in ten distinct climate-controlled zones. Plants include a magnificent range of Cactii in the Dry Tropics zone through to dripping wet epiphytic plants perched on tree trunks in the cloud forest zone. There are also some stunning Orchids in full flower, and don’t miss the Giant Water Lillies in the Wet Tropics zone. And there is even a collection of carnivorous plants to please kids of all ages.

So you don’t have to wait for spring to head out for a garden visit – with Kew’s glasshouses you really do have gardens for all seasons.

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Loseley Park Walled Garden

by on Jan.21, 2009, under Britain, English Gardens

In the few days that count as an English summer there is nothing better than a stroll around a beautiful garden.  Last July I was lucky enough to visit Loseley Park, near Guildford in Surrey, for a wander around their walled garden.

Gazebo in Loseley Park gardens

Gazebo in Loseley Park gardens

The garden is based on a design from Gertrude Jeckyl, and is split into several smaller themed plots.  The Rose Garden contains a good mix of traditional roses surrounded by low box hedges, in keeping with a historic garden.  The focal point of this area is the gazebo, with white roses crawling across it’s frame.  Other areas include the Flower Garden providing an almost garish splash of colour, in stark contrast with the tranquil serenity of the White Garden opposite.

My particular favourite was the Moat Walk, an old moat lined with a grass pathway and borders containing a magical array of flowers.  At the end of the moat is a stairway up through windswept flowers towards the dovecot.

Steps near the moat at Loseley Park Gardens

Steps near the moat at Loseley Park Gardens

And not forgeting the old Wisteria against the wall nearest the Hall, with it’s old branches that you think could have come straight out of a fairytale.

You can find out more about Loseley Park on their web site at www.loseley-park.co.uk.

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