All posts filed under: Gardens To Explore

Photograph of Ventnor Botanic Gardens by Michael Turner

Postcard from the Isle of Wight

You may find it hard to believe, but this is the UK in October… Ventnor Botanic Gardens on the Isle of Wight. Not just anywhere in the UK of course; my postcard is from Ventnor Botanic Gardens on the Isle of Wight. The garden’s sheltered, south-facing location, tucked well into the Ventnor ‘Undercliff’, has challenged gardeners and ecologists here to push the boundaries of plant hardiness in a constantly evolving experiment. In the light of rising global temperatures and the prospect of significant climate changes to come, the gardeners here are succeeding with an increasingly diverse range of semi-tropical plants that would normally curl up their toes at the first signs of the UK winter. The result is a lush, exotic garden that is only a short ferry ride away from mainland Britain and one of several garden delights we discovered during an enjoyable week away.

Upper Barrakka Gardens , Valletta, Malta

Upper Barrakka Gardens

Wandering the narrow streets of the historic Maltese capital Valletta just a couple of weeks ago, my wife Janet, two friends and I made our way slowly upwards to the Upper Barrakka Gardens, the highest point on the ancient city walls and one of Malta’s most spectacular viewpoints. Our efforts were well rewarded – the panoramic view of the Grand Harbour across to the Three Cities is simply breathtaking… The Barrakka Gardens themselves are of historical and architectural interest, as well as being a tranquil haven for foot-weary travellers. Originally constructed as a place of relaxation for the Italian Knights of St. John, the gardens are now a public open space and home to a collection of commemorative statues, including a bust of Sir Winston Churchill and a replica of Les Gavroches by Antonio Sciortino (the original was removed and is now housed in the National Museum of Fine Arts).  

The beautiful Chihuly Glass and Garden in Seattle.

Chihuly Garden and Glass

There’s a city centre garden in the North West corner of the USA that is, I would suggest, totally unique. Whilst there are plenty of gardens worldwide that feature contemporary art installations – gardening and art are natural partners after all – this combined garden and sculpture gallery in its space age setting is something really rather special. Chihuly Garden and Glass at the Seattle Space Center combines the work of world-renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly with creative modern architecture and innovative garden landscaping. The overall effect is truly spectacular. You can read about the background to the exhibition, the dedicated building and how the designers arrived at their choice of planting in this Seattle Times 2012 web article here. My October visit was rewarded with a showing of late-season grasses in full flow, and timed for dusk so as to experience the best combination of daylight and artificial lighting on the colourful sculptures and carefully crafted planting schemes. There’s only one word to describe the garden, and that’s ‘breathtaking’! I hope my photographs will …