I felt in need of some plant therapy this weekend. I don’t feel as though I have had much horticultural time for the last few weeks particularly over the Christmas break when I was decorating. Sunday’s forecast was cold and grey so a quick bit of research pointed me in the direction of Birmingham Botanical Garden and its glasshouses.
I have never visited the gardens before and it is just under an hour’s drive so an easy outing. You enter through the Tropical Glasshouse whose heat was very welcome after the 3C outside. The lushness was strangely comforting and quite reviving. The glasshouse was built in 1852 and is a Grade 1 listed building, its Victorian history positively exudes from its pores and I amused myself imagining Victorian ladies being awed by the exotic planting.I was also reminded of the importance of looking up when you are visiting any sort of garden as high up were various glamorous orchids. From the Tropical greenhouse you go through into the Sub-tropical greenhouse.
After the exuberance of the Tropical glasshouse the Sub-tropical one was a little disappointing. But signage quickly explained that the planting was being revisited over the Autumn and Winter and a diagram explained the future organisation of plants into shady dry, shady moist, sunny dry and sunny moist. Saying this as I walked around the glasshouse there were parts which looked great, maybe they were the bits that had already done and if so then it wasnt at all obvious they were recently planted.
I love the metal framework of the glasshouses, so beautiful.
From here you enter the Mediterranean glasshouse and here if you needed a wake up call you certainly got one with masses Coleus and Poinsettia all down one side. I’m not a fan of Coleus particularly but I have to admit that, as you can see below, they certain give value for money when grouped en mass.
Finally I walked through into the Arid House. I have been avoiding these since I had an asthma attack on entering the dry atmosphere of the arid house at Oxford Botanic Garden. For some reason the environment in Birmingham’s Arid House was fine for me, maybe it’s because it’s a larger space but I enjoyed walking around here despite n0t particularly liking cactus. I was fascinated by the various other non-cactus arids including Sand Lily, Acanthus sennii and Acacia.
Despite the cold the glasshouses had warmed me up enough to have a wander around the gardens. I was very impressed since they promise to be excellent as the year progresses including rock, alpine, fern and woodland gardens. I liked the way the gardens were laid out, with many plants grouped according to the plant hunter who had discovered them, rather than by plant family. I think I will try to go back again this year to see the gardens when the weather is kinder and it is more floriferous.
By the time I drove home the blue sky had disappeared and the sky was becoming misty. I drove back via Worcester and crossing the Severn River the scale of the current flooding was very apparent. I don’t think I have seen the extent of flooding so great even in 2006 when we had severe summer flooding. It was strange to think that no more than an hour before I had been wandering amongst exotic climbers and palms – I have to say I felt much better and relaxed as a result