The light at the end of the polytunnel

Every year in a garden is different, just like every day in a garden is different.

Some years, you have wild successes, beautiful crops, perfect weather and no weeds.

Then there are years like this one. When your world kind of falls to pieces and your garden along with it.

There are years like this one, when your harvests are few and far between and your plot is in a constant state of dissaray.

When every time you step foot into your garden, your heart sinks where it used to sing.

It has not been my most productive gardening year and as much as I loathe to admit it, I have on more than one occasion considered giving it all up.

Don’t panic! I have no intentions to quit. I just can’t, you see, my garden still makes me inexorably happy, even when it’s gone to shit, and mine has, essentially, gone to shit.

My raised beds are broken, there are weeds everywhere, bits of debris everywhere, my crops have all but failed with the exception of my sweetcorn.

There are countless reasons for this bad year, including ill health, stress and a lack of motivation, and I want to talk about that. That lack of motivation, because that is the gardener’s biggest enemy.

I want to make you all squirm a bit here. I usually keep this blog light hearted and fun, but there are realities that we all have to face.

Harsh realities about ourselves and the nature of why we do the things we do. I’ve had to face many of them this year.

I am not a great gardener. I am not an expert. The majority of the time, my plot is a disorganised mess, much like my scatterbrain. I fail in the garden every single week. Seriously. Every week.

All that being said, gardening is still that extra beat in my heart, the extra air in my lungs.

Gardening is literally, my be all, and end all, and this year, I lost sight of that. I lost sight of why I garden. I became obsessed with wanting a perfect plot, perfect crops and the whole endeavour failed miserably.

I have learned that I need to go back to my roots.

I need to garden for the fun of it, I need to garden for the joy.

I need to garden for the peace.

With that in mind, I want to write a little about something I’ve wanted to address for a long time but have never had the temerity or strength.

I’d like to write a little about the mental health benefits of gardening, but I don’t just want to load you with facts you can find anywhere.

I don’t just want to spout the same old numbers and statistics and surveys. I want to tell you MY story.

I have an incredible life, truly incredible. I love my life. I have two parents who love me dearly, countless friends who make me happy, a career, my health, food in my stomach, a roof over my head. I have a garden. I write. I have clothes and shoes. I love a few drinks. I love sci-fi and video games and dancing. I love my bloody amazing life.

I have a wonderful life but sometimes I can’t see it through the fog. Sometimes, the fog is all that there is.

Now, before you think I’ve gone all maudlin on you, trust me, this post is another howler, I swear.

The fog is not just my depressive episodes or low moods. The fog is what happens when I lose sight of why I do what I do.

I had a thought today and I can’t stop thinking it.

How many gardening websites, magazines, TV show, publications write about the mental health benefits of gardening?

All of them, and rightly so. It has long been established that gardening is good for mental health and a form of therapy for a wide range of disorders.

Now, take all of those articles, shows, interviews you’ve read, watched and heard about the mental health effects of gardening and ask yourself this:

How many of them have told you that gardening actually makes you mental?

None!

So, I’m here to rectify the situation and tell you the dirty side of growing nobody tells you about. Gardening turns you into a bona fide nut job.

Only mental people walk around allotments in their bare feet.

Only mental people choose to spend freezing winter mornings in a garden, pouring their warm breath into the cold world.

Only mental people spend weeks germinating 19 different varieties of tomatoes because they’re slightly different colours.

Only mental people prefer getting a gift of cow shite than jewellery.

Only mental people choose to be surrounded by slugs, centipedes and spiders.

Gardening makes you a mental person!

I’m telling you, if you get a garden, you won’t recognise yourself within a year. Not because you are a walking orb of hippie zen like you envisioned, but because your life is now RUINED.

Your hands will be banjaxed and your clothes will all be ripped. What used to be your shoe rack now will just house plant pots and seeds.

You’ll be covered in scars from bites and stings.

You’ll talk to plants. Seriously. You will.

You think you won’t do it but you absolutely will. It’ll creep up on you.

You’ll just casually find yourself in your polytunnel one day, reworking all the lyrics to Macklemore’s thrift shop so it has garden lyrics and you’ll stop and wonder who you even are anymore.

You’ll cancel nights out so you can water your polytunnel. You’ll spend a stupid amount of money on crap. Literally. You will literally exchange hard earned money to obtain the excrement from another animal.

You will actually cry when crops fails. You will cry actual tears.

You will find yourself screaming at nettles.

You will turn into a mental person and you will never be happier.

That’s what has happened to me really. I used to be very morose and quiet*, I used to be a normal human being with normal hobbies*, I used to be clean*.

*all outright lies

This year, being away from my garden a lot, I’ve become less mental and that’s what’s wrong with me. I’m telling you I do things like watch TV, drink tea, clean my house. CLEAN MY HOUSE!

I hate it. And so, I shall endeavour to garden more during the coming weeks so I return to my glorious mental self.

Next weekend, I’m heading to Waterford to the amazing Food Matters Festival in Grow HQ where I’ll be giving a walking tour and speaking about allotment growing and I’ll be chatting all about allotment growing and the benefits of gardening for your mental health.

Also, the folks at GIY have some amazing people coming along, including Alys Fowler who I may freak out and embarrass myself when I meet!

Nothing new there so.

It’s going to be an amazing weekend so please pop along. I promise I’ll wear more than just my GIY knickers.

If anyone takes issue with my tongue in cheek tone here, I myself have mad problems with anxiety and depression so please do not think I am being disparaging.

I want you to know that there is hope, there are lights at the end of the polytunnel, there is love in the fresh, garden air and there are places in which you can dig all your shit and literally come out smelling of roses.

Much love to you.

If you need to chat to someone about depression or anxiety, you can contact the wonderful people at one of these numbers:

Pieta House: 1800 247 247

The Samaritans: 116 123

Aware: 1800 80 48 48

Plants Bants, Valentine’s Day Edition: Borage

Valentine’s day is unavoidable. It really is. It’s everywhere. Cards. Chocolates. Cuddly Toys. Sexy undies. Sexy undies everywhere. Flowers. So many bunches of flowers. So many roses. So many sad, supermarket carnations.

I have a bit of a pathetic secret, I’ve never been bought flowers by a man. Never. Not once. Which is a hell of an achievement really given the fact that I’m not only a gardener but I’m also absolutely gorgeous. Modest too. The mind boggles. Now, before you think I’m looking for sympathy (or flowers), stop everything! I am not. In fact, I quite enjoy lamenting about it at length to my friends, while on the inside I’m happy about the fact that somebody hasn’t hacked a poor plant to bits in order to get the ride; because let’s be honest, that’s the whole bloomin’ idea behind it and anyone who says otherwise is just plain lying.

So, in an effort to encourage you all to stop spending outrageous amounts of money on flowers that will be wilted within a day, I propose this (nice bit of matrimony humour there); for Valentine’s day this year, why don’t you get yourself or your other half some seeds and plant some edible flowers in your garden.

One of my favourite things about my allotment is the flowers I have growing. I don’t just grow fruit and veggies but also grow a wide array of flowers, the majority of which I grow because they are edible, good for pollinators or both.

I have a deep seeded love affair with blue flowers. There is something wildly romantic about them, I can’t quite place it but blue flowers stir something in my soul. You’ll definitely think I’m insane if you’re not one of my fellow flower-fanatic friends, but there’s just something intrinsically… sensual about blue flowers. Forget drowning in the pools of someone’s blue eyes (except mine of course, worthy applicants can apply via twitter), and instead do some gazing in to some blue blooms and grow yourself some borage. Borage (Borago officinalis) is my absolute favourite flower, so for the romantic day that’s in it, I’d like to write a little ode to this great love of my life.

img_3310

Borage is my bae

Borage, with its intensely blue, star shaped flowers is one of the best plants you can grow in your veggie patch. Not only do bees love it, but borage is edible and has beneficial medicinal properties. Borage is essentially a miracle plant and absolutely gorgeous too.

Borage is a nectar rich flower which will self seed all over your garden. In fact, I planted borage once four years ago and now it pops up all over my garden every year, it is the Valentine’s gift that’ll keep on giving.  Borage is one of the most bee friendly plants you can have in your garden. Bees adore borage, particularly honey bees – which as we all know need all the the help they can get – and honey made from borage flowers is known to be sweeter and more flavoursome than other honeys. My borage plants are laden with bees right throughout the growing season, which can stretch from March right up until October if the weather is good.

img_2917

Planting Borage

Borage is very easy to grow, simply sow in a well drained bed after the last frost has passed and the ground has heated up. Borage has a taproot so it prefers to be direct sown where it is to grow as opposed to being transplanted as this causes root disturbance. Water your borage well until it has established. Borage needs very little in the way of care throughout the season and it can grow quite tall in sunny positions.

You can collect the seeds and replant the following year or you can simply wait for it to self seed, because trust me, it will. In fact, you will probably never get rid of it unless you either bomb your garden or simply move. Very far away. We’re talking miles.

The Science Bit

Borage is one of those lovely “companion” plants in the vegetable garden. In essence, it is a very good friend to many of the plants you grow in your veggie patch like tomatoes, strawberries, cabbages and squashes. Because borage attracts bees and wasps, it therefore repels other pests that bother tomatoes and cabbages which wasps are known to prey on.

Borage is also known to actively improve the flavour of strawberries, possibly due to the effects it has on the soil. Borage leaves contain vitamin C, potassium and calcium so it adds trace minerals to your soil and it is also a brilliant plant to add to your compost heap.

Borage is the highest known plant source of an Omega 6 fatty acid called GLA (gamma linolenic acid) which is good for excema, arthritis and diabetes and is also a source of fibre and B vitamins.

Beginning to understand why borage is my ideal boyfriend now?

img_3910

Swoon!

Using Borage as an Edible Flower

Now for the fun part! Borage is of course, an edible flower. It has long been used in salads and drinks as a garnish.

Borage has a mild cucumber flavour. For my gin loving friends, I urge you to try it with some Hendricks, though I do not like to encourage gin drinking because gin is the devil and that’s all I have to say about that.

Freeze borage flowers in an ice cube to add to drinks to really impress your guests.Unless you’re like me and you never actually ever have any guests. Forever alone. Sob.

I’ll just sit here for Valentine’s Day and munch on whole borage flowers while watching soppy romantic comedies, don’t mind me.

Borage for Courage

Borage is literally good for the heart, which makes it the ultimate Valentine’s Day flower. It stimulates your adrenal gland, encouraging the production of adrenaline, raising your mood and is beneficial for your kidneys and digestive system too. Borage has been used to treat depression and states of melancholy and has long been believed to bring comfort and to give you courage. Historically, borage flowers were often embroidered onto knight’s battle garments and was said to be eaten by roman soldiers before going to war. Badass borage! In fact, there is even an old wive’s tale that states if you slip some borage into your lover’s drink it would give them the courage to propose. Not creepy or desperate in the slightest.

Sure, why do you think I have so much of it in my garden? If you see me today, slipping some blue flowers into some poor, unsuspecting sods drink, save him before he shackles himself to me in holy matrimony and has to spend eternity competing for my affections with a flower.

The flower will win every time.

Fiona luvs Borage 4EVA.

Mrs. Fiona Borage.

Happily Ever After

Once upon a time there was a small, barren patch of land in a field in North County Dublin.  This square of muck was unloved and unworked, yearning for a gardener to come along and tend to it. One day, a young woman stood at its borders, surveying it’s potential and the patch of land was changed forever….

Every garden has a story. Be it a small back garden or an acre of land, a concrete yard or a wild meadow, every garden has a very unique story to tell us. Stories about the gardener, stories about the plants, stories about it’s structures and landscapes, stories about about the events that have taken place there, the bbq’s and parties, the buried pets and burglaries.

My garden’s story is one of love and loss, new beginnings and imparted knowledge, one of a woman who found her happiness buried in a heap of soil. The very first day I stood in my garden was the first paragraph in a novel in progress, a story that stretches back through generations and continues to grow into a hopeful future. When people visit my garden, I love to tell them the story of the garden, the history behind it, the future I have planned for it. I love to tell the story of my garden.

I may be relatively new to gardening, but it’s in my blood, my very DNA. My father is a gardener, my mother is a gardener, as is her mother and her grandfather before her and I like to think that a little bit of green flows through my veins. So many of my childhood memories are tied to gardens, playing in our front garden with my friends, watching my father tend to his tomatoes, helping my mother to pull up weeds. Playing in a yellow basin of water in my back garden with my cousin Kate. My Mam and our neighbour Sandra, sitting on the boundary wall between our houses on warm summer days. The monkey puzzle tree in our front garden that all the kids loved to climb, the noise of the rusty gate that I would swing on, my dog Brandy chewing on a bone in the shade of the tree and the day he got a watering can stuck on his head. The arbour my Dad built in the back garden. A day spent filling bags and bags with ivy from our back wall. A peony. An Iris. A geranium. A rose. The memories stretch on and on. They are rooted in the very soil of my childhood home.

My own garden is littered with four years of stories but its origins stretch back way further. My little allotment (not actually so little) is my very own garden story in action. When I first began my allotment project, I didn’t know rosemary from thyme, courgettes from pumpkins or dandelions from nettles. Now, I can point to every plant on the plot and tell you the story of how it got there. I have plants on the plot that were gifts from friends and family and fellow allotment holders. I have plants that ended up on the plot in error. There are plants that have failed and thrived. Plants that hold sad memories and happy ones. There are places in the garden that remind me of people long gone from my life and are almost painful to look at. There are corners of the plot that are rooted in heartbreak. There are spaces dedicated to the people I love.

asp

My asparagus has never done well but I can’t get rid of it, it was planted by someone I loved who is no longer a part of my life, but is still part of the garden.


IMG_1974

I call this my folk patch, two Erysimum surrounding a patch of black tulips given to me by my parents.

I’ve had countless visitors and friends to the allotment and and the plot is full of their stories too.

There are entire colonies of wildlife living out their own stories in the garden. From the spiders in the polytunnel to the bees on the lavender, from the hare I find on the plot on quiet dewy mornings to the robin who goes diving for worms while I turn over the soil.

My garden has seen me through job loss, break ups, falling in love and back out again, bereavement and grief, it has seen me though the happiest times in my life and it has opened up more opportunities for me than I thought possible.

I’ve spent years wondering what it is I’m supposed to do with my life. I’ve worked as a baker, a shop assistant, a designer, I currently work in a financial institution and I’ve never really felt like I found the right fit. I always wanted to be a writer. I wanted to tell stories, to change the world, to leave something important behind; the garden might just be the greatest story I’ve ever told.

Right now, the story of my garden is at a grand reveal. The page in the book when the protagonist realises what’s been obvious to the readers all along. The scene in the movie when the hero discovers he loves the girl next door after all. It has become apparent that I was born to garden. I was born to write about it. I am meant to get my hands dirty, plant flowers, water vegetables. My passion for gardening is the netting onto which my tendrils have gripped, and as such, I grow, supported by my plot. Gardening is what I am meant to do. Writing about it is the bonus.

My garden is the binding on a book that tells my story and much like any great story, it is full of adventure, sadness, memories and dreams and it continues to be a page turner.

….and she lived happily ever after.

IMG_1956

 

Post Bloom Blues? Here’s some upcoming events to keep them at bay.

Bloom festival has been and gone, the gardens dismantled, the stalls removed, the park cleaned up and the buzz dying down. We’ll just have to wait until next year for it’s return. For those of us who are feeling a bit deflated, sad, show-garden deprived, here are a few upcoming Irish Garden events in June and July to keep us going.

The Dublin Garden Festival

13-15 June 2014, Christchurch Cathedral, Dublin

This June, Christchurch Cathedral will be bringing the outside inside for it’s first Garden Festival. The cathedral will be transformed into a floral arcadia with displays by some of irelands most talented florists. There will also be horticultural displays, urban gardens, a petting zoo, crafts, live entertainment and plenty of food. There will also be a number of featured talks by renowned gardeners and horticulturalists. Tickets are €12.

WAFA World Flower Show 2014

18-22 June 2014, RDS, Dublin

This year, the world flower show will be held in the RDS in Dublin. Thousands are expected to visit this event which is pretty much regarded as the olympics of flower arranging. The World flower Show is held every three years in different countries  and this is the first year the event will be held in Ireland. Exibits will include floral demonstrations, craft and trade stands.

Blarney in Bloom

Saturday 12th July, Blarney Castle

Held in County Cork, the Blarney in bloom festival is a one day gardening event in aid of the Irish guide Dogs. Attractions include plant nurseries, crafts, farmers market, seed savers association, bee keeping and plenty of live entertainment.

Galway Garden Festival

5-6 July, Claregalway Castle

The Galway Garden festival is a celebration of gardens and has won many plaudits since 2010. There is plenty of entertainment on offer from live music to medieval jousting. There are many garden suppliers and experts on hand and an international panel of speakers.

Conifer Walk and Talk

Sunday 22nd June, 2.30pm National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin

This walk and talk will be a guided tour of the extensive collection of evergreens in the Botanic Gardens. Learn the basics of conifer identification and learn some fascinating facts about why they are so special.

Learn About Meadows

Saturdays in June & July, 3pm, National Botanic Gardens, Kilmacurragh 

Each Saturday in June and July, The botanic gardens in Kilmacurragh are hosting guided walks through the meadows where you can see the wide variety of plant species living in the meadow at Kilmacurragh. Admission Free.

I’m hoping to go to a couple of these, particularly the Dublin Garden Festival, it looks great. Hope to see some of you there!

A Blooming Great Day in the Park

This week, I’m taking a bit of a change of tack from my usual How To Tuesdays to tell you about my amazing weekend at Bloom. I’ve been on  little bit of a blogging hiatus the past week due to a redesign of the blog itself and of course, a busy weekend, volunteering at Irelands best summer festival. It was a glorious bank holiday weekend here in Dublin, The sun was blaring (mostly), the mood was high, families lined north wall to see the tall ships, thousands of women ran the mini marathon and the wonderful Bloom festival took place in the Phoenix Park. Back in March, when I put my name down to volunteer at Bloom, I was eager to experience Ireland’s annual gardening festival, having never been before. I was eager to meet new people, enjoy talking to like minded people and perhaps feel a part of this wonderful event. Thankfully, my experiences far exceeded my expectations.

On Sunday morning, I arrived in the park at 8am, sun blaring, the park buzzing with excitement at the day ahead. The truly wonderful thing about arriving at Bloom before the gates opened was this, I got to see the show gardens before the crowds arrived, a rare opportunity. I was just blown away, never before had I seen such a diverse collection of gardens, plants, designs in one place. Making my way over to the fab food village, I grabbed a coffee and enjoyed my surroundings before the madness kicked off. I collected my Bloom Ambassador T-shirt, cap and name badge before we were shown around the site and assigned jobs for the day.  That’s when the madness started, people poured in the gates in a steady stream from 9am until 4pm. By one o’clock, the place was very busy. The food village was full of people, sitting out in the sun, enjoying the festival atmosphere.

I must say, it was one of the better experiences I’ve had in a long time, I met a lot of wonderful new people and it was great to feel part of the team that makes Bloom one of the best festivals I have ever been to.

The big attraction at Bloom of course is the show gardens, there were thirty show gardens in total, ranging from larger gardens to the small postcard gardens. Now, I had never been to a show garden event so I was completely mesmerised by what was on offer. Each garden was obviously designed with such passion and hard work it blew me away.

"The First Place" designed by

“The First Place” designed by Fiann O’Nulláin

One thing that really struck me about the show gardens was that nearly every one featured lupins, these herbaceous perennial’s are some of my favourite flowers, their vivid coloured flower spikes provided the show gardens at bloom with a serious display of colour. I also noticed a trend of edible and medicinal gardens, one of the Gardens, “This First Place”, deigned by Fiann O Nualláin was a garden designed for growing medicine, and I took a real fancy to  Wayne O’ Neil’s “An Edible Woodland Garden”.

Lupins were definitely the star of the show

Lupins were definitely the star of the show

To be honest I can’t even begin to try explain each show garden or pick a favourite as they were so varied, but I will say this, there was not one design I wasn’t seriously impressed with. Beside the show gardens was a large walled vegetable garden, this was, without a doubt, the highlight for me (of course it was). It was a spectacularly maintained, productive large vegetable garden that I’m told is actually always in the park and can be visited. I have literally never seen so much borage in my life, it was a borage batallion, a starflower regiment.

The borage battalion

The borage battalion

It felt good to get involved, it felt good to volunteer my time to be part of something so enjoyable for so many people.

There was so much to experience at Bloom, from the Nurseries to a Botanical Art exhibition, to cooking demonstrations and live music. I must say though, I think my favourite part was the volunteer work itself. I was working with a lovely bunch of people at one of the entrances, greeting the visitors and helping people with directions and information about the festival. I really enjoyed working with those people, some of us were gardeners, some not, some were horticulturalists, some just liked to volunteer at events and every single one of those people taught me something I never knew before. And I guess this brings me back to my love of community and my theory that it is the one of the most important developmental tools we have as human beings. It felt good to get involved, it felt good to volunteer my time to be part of something so enjoyable for so many people.

I took far too many photos to share them all here so I’ve popped a little selection gallery into this post for you to have a gander.

Being a Bloom Ambassador is definitely one of the major highlights of 2014. I even got myself a few fab ideas for my own garden, oh, and of course, a fancy cap. Who doesn’t love a fancy cap?

 

 

 

 

How To Grow Lavender

IMG_2493

Botanical name: Lavandula 
Flowering time: Summer
Height & spread: 30cm-1m height, 30cm-1.5m spread

Lavender is probably my favourite plant in my garden. It’s beautiful, easy to grow and smells amazing.

Lavender is best when planted late spring/early summer, ideally in May. Like many other herbs, it does well in most soils once it gets full sun and moderately good drainage.  If you have heavier clay soil, lavender can become woody and the plant may not live as long. Now, I have very heavy clay soil so I often add gravel to the base of my plant for drainage. Lavender grows well in pots also and makes a lovely addition to a balcony or driveway if you are growing in an urban environment.  Just ensure you add some gravel to the end of your pot for drainage.

Lavender does not need to be watered too often, and in fact over watering lavender is more likely to kill it than anything else.

Lavender should be pruned every year to keep the plant compact. Some people prune after it flowers in late summer and others in early spring. I pruned mine in early spring this year. Use a secateurs to remove the flower stalks and and inch of the years growth.

To propogate lavender you can take semi ripe cuttings from young plants in early summer. You can also collect seed from dried flower heads and plant the following year.

Lavender is an aromatic herb, famed for its calming qualities. It is   often used to treat insomnia, nervous stomach, and anxiety. it can also be used as an analgesic and an antiseptic.  It is also beneficial to the respiratory system, in particular in the treatment of colds and flu. Lavender is one of the most popular ingredients in aromatherapy used to treat insomnia and headaches.

Lavender is also widely used in the culinary world, often used in condiments and dressings. Its flowers yield a lot of nectar and as so is popular with bees make high quality honey  from the lavender nectar.

 

The National Botanic Gardens

Just some of the beautiful plants on show

Just some of the beautiful plants on show

This week, I finally hauled ass to the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin, having threatened to do it for months. I hadn’t been to the gardens in a number of years, in fact, I think last time I was there was on a school visit and long before I developed a serious interest in plants and gardening so the experience was probably wasted on me. When the opportunity arose to visit on a bright, dry Sunday, I jumped at the chance (literally, there was a little jump for joy, but only those very close up could see it).

It was the first beautiful spring day in Dublin this year. The past few weeks have seen a succession of storms battering our coastlines. In fact, Dublin seems to have escaped relatively unscathed compared to the west coast. So when I saw the sun streaming thorough the window n Sunday morning, it seemed a shame to waste it.

The visit to the gardens was very spur of the moment, I had been putting it off until the weather improved and until it was summer time and there was more to see. However, despite the time of year, the gardens didn’t disappoint at all, there was plenty growing.

IMAG0481_1

The lovely vegetable garden

Particularly so in the vegetable garden, where there was an abundance of productive plants, from the lovely herb border to the fruit bushes to the veggie patches complete with spring cabbages, leeks and various other crops in season during these lean weeks. There was also a large composting area where they host composting master classes during the year. There were also some beehives on site, a small pond for wildlife and a glasshouse, in which, there also appeared to be some wildlife hiding out.

IMAG0480

ribbit

A long walk around the gardens brought me through the wonderful arboretum, most of my time there was spent stroking the bark of trees and squealing at the bunches of spring crocuses everywhere and being an embarrassing garden nerd. I took photos of everything, pretty things, ugly things, stupid things, mossy things, everything.

PhotoGrid_1392570128572

Broken things, twisted things, beautiful things

The glasshouses at the Botanic Gardens are definitely one of the highlights. There are a number of glasshouses, the great palm house is the largest, built in 1884, it is home to a huge variety of giant palm trees and exotic plants. This was also home to a wonderful collection of succulents and cacti and a spectacular collection of orchids which I am very excited to go back to see when there are more in bloom.

PhotoGrid_1392765685723

Orchids

The Curvilinear Glasshouse

The Curvilinear Glasshouse

The curvilinear glasshouse housed a large variety of exotic plants from Australia, Africa, the Medditeranean and Asia and it featured my favourite plants of the whole visit.

PhotoGrid_1392570244731

Some of the exotic plants, the one on my right was my favourite, though I couldn’t for the life of me, find the name of it anywhere.

There are also some smaller glasshouses with insectivorous plants, ferns, alpines, winter flowers, and a charming little house full of spring flowers like daffodils, crocuses and hyacinths.

PhotoGrid_1392570184107

Delicate spring flowers

My current reading material

My current reading material

Stopping off after a long walk around for what must have been about three hours, I had a fab cup of peppermint tea and attempted to take in everything I had seen, but you know what, I was completely overwhelmed, not just by the beauty and the experience, but by just how little I really know about plants and how much I have to learn. I am hoping to brush up on my plant science in the coming months (it helps that I happen to have a botanist best friend who I can annoy all the time). No point in trying to be a gardener without a basic understanding of plants themselves, it seems redundant to say the least. First port of call, attempt to learn some Latin, should be…..interesting….

The Botanic Gardens host a number of lectures and gardening classes throughout the year so check their website or facebook page for further information. The gardens are home to more than 15,000 species of plant and is also the site of the National Herbarium, a collection of over 750,000 pressed plants. The National Botanic Gardens are home to hundreds of endangered species from around the world and even a small number species that are otherwise extinct in the wild. If you do visit, you can do an audio tour, or just ramble around yourself and take it all in as I did. I’d urge you to visit, whether you garden or not, it’s definitely an experience you won’t forget in a hurry.