|Canna Pretoria welcoming me to the garden|
|The tallest Amaranthus 'Foxtail' ever!|
|Albizzia 'Chocolate' - seems OK but I found it disappointing in the UK|
|The Discovery Garden|
|Lagerstroemeria - no idea of the cultivar|
|Bark on Lagerstroemeria - wonderful|
|Silphium perfoliatum - good tall perennial|
Hidden away between the conifers and the bluebell wood is a fine sub-tropical border filled with all the usual large leaved exotica, just the stuff to make the heart beat a bit faster! In the morning sunshine the contrasts of foliage absolutely glowed.
|Subtropical border - love the contrast between bananas and grasses|
|Dark foliage just comes alive in sunshine|
|Dracaena - I'd never have thought to put this outside (I'm told this is now Cordyline fruticosa)|
|Black leaved Colocasia and grasses|
|Pennisetum - is it P. aloppecuroides? Common but lovely!|
|Musa 'Zebrina' and Pennisteum setaceum 'Rubrum'|
|Iresine and Setaria palmifolia|
|Tradescantia spathacea 'Sitara's Gold'|
Nearby the herb garden is an interesting mix of herbs, edibles and flowers with some great planting combinations and a fair few unusual plants. The sweet corn was 14ft high and the pumpkins were threatening to invade the adjacent rock garden.
|Herb garden from the raised viewing platform|
|Fig makes a good architectural container plant|
|Just love these sunflowers|
|Manihot esculenta Variegata - a favourite I've blogged about before!|
|Great contrast to the lush planting|
The tender plants are housed in three modern glasshouses, known as the Steinhardt Conservatory. Sadly the traditional Palm House seems to have been relegated to conferences and weddings but I guess like so many similar institutions, finance is a major issue. Still I would prefer to see it full of palms rather than bridal parties.
|The tropical House|
|Bulnesia arborea - creosote bush|
Outside the palm house is a wide terrace surrounding three formal ponds holding an extensive collection of water lilies, including tender species and some Lotus.Lots of colour and some beautiful blooms. One day I'm going to fall in trying to photograph water lilies!
|The lily ponds and Palm House|
|Beautiful lotus and seedpods|
|I just love the foliage as well as the blue flowers|
|Nymphaea 'Peach glow' - sadly most of the labels had fallen off|
Backing the terrace is another fine sub-tropical border that started my pulse started racing again! Jam packed with wonderful coloured foliage and exotic blooms. reminds me of how many wonderful plants there are available for summer borders.
|More exotics - Ricinus taller than mine left back in the UK.|
|Hibiscus acetosella - it may have another name?|
|Hibiscus coccinius - possibly 'Texas Star'|
|Canna 'Pretoria' and sunshine again!|
|Variegated Musa - sadly it had partly rotted off so the plant was laying on the soil|
|Xanthosoma - love the foliage|
Last time I visited this garden, probably ten years ago, the Japanese garden was closed for refurbishment so I was pleased to be able to explore this extensive but quiet contemplative garden.It is meant to inspire tranquility with each curve in the path revealing a new view of idealized nature.
|More of the garden - guess it all has meanings|
Time had gone! I missed the Fragrance Garden and the Shakespeare collection, both inaccessible due to irrigation. The cherry trees were well past their spring splendour, the rock garden looked a bit dried up, the rose garden was rather barren of colour and the lilacs taking their summer rest, all reminding me that this is a garden to revisit at other seasons. Rushing back to the hotel, I arrived first, relieved that I was not keeping Philip waiting for lunch. An hour later I discovered that I had misunderstood the arrangement and he was already drinking a quiet pint of Guinness in the bar next door. Never mind - I soon caught up!