Friday, 10 August 2012

Garden Visit - Durham Botanic Garden

Last week the other half and I visited the Durham Botanic Garden. We've been there a few times before, but we'd yet to see it in summer. The garden is run by the university and is used as a teaching resource as well as a public attraction.

Despite the garden having obviously suffered from the same appalling summer weather that the rest of us have endured it was looking very pretty. It was fairly obvious that the gardeners were battling with the aftermath of all of the rain with lots of massively overgrown plants and several of the paths being washed away.

The garden houses collections of plants from all over the world including the Far East, North America, South Africa and New Zealand, as well as more traditional English Fayre, a native woodland area, and a glasshouse containing cacti and tropical plants. At the bottom of the garden there is a large wildflower meadow which sometimes houses rare breed sheep. There are several pieces of quite impressive sculpture dotted around the place, my favourite of which was a pair of large metal spiders located fairly near the entrance.

When we visited it was a beautiful sunny day. We walked down through the North American section to the wildflower meadow, where we had a picnic. From there you can loop around the top of the meadow and into the woodland area, and then back into the main part of the garden. We spent a couple of hours there, but I would say that, as with any garden, you would need to visit the garden several times over the seasons to get a true appreciation of what's on offer. Highlights for me were the massive Gunnera, the Primroses, the giant water lilies in the glasshouse, and the beautiful Dahlias which have given me a serious urge to grow some myself. I also saw some very interesting ferns that I'd like to know more about and possibly acquire my own specimens of, however many of them appeared to be missing their labels so I'm not sure what they were. On the way out we bought a selection of seeds that are collected by the friends of the garden and left near the entrance with an honesty box. We're actually seriously considering joining the friends of the garden. It's one of the best public gardens in our area and we always enjoy a visit, so it seems like a good thing to do, with the added value of garden tours and talks on top.

This is not a finely laid out garden designed for stunning visual effects, but a large collection of beautiful plants from around the world presented in a very accessible fashion, which of course is the point of a botanic garden! I heartily recommend a visit to anyone that happens to be in the area. It is possible to buy a day pass which grants you access to other museums around the city that are run by the university. I'm yet to do this myself, but I'm told it's worth the extra.

Apologies for the photos included in this post being a bit thin on the ground, but I was enjoying the visit so much that I forgot to take many!