Monday, 29 June 2015

Lessons from a Botanical Garden rediscovered...

On Father's day we ended up walking through Sheffield's Botanical Gardens, probably more of a pleasure for me than Chris:) I haven't been for ages and was happy to find it in absolutely beautiful top flowering form, the sun being out helped too:)

 I remember this place from being very young, it wasn't the garden that it is today. When I was little the glasshouses were in dire need of renovation, I remember vividly that one housed an aquarium whilst the main part was a birdhouse. The aquarium was the stuff of nightmares for me, it was pitch black inside and the fish would loom at you from their various tanks like the creatures of the deep that some of them were, prehistoric and scary. I still remember the sound of the various pumps bubbling away and (worryingly) how the ground was always wet and how I would leave the piranhas until last for that moment of pure, joyous horror that all children seem to love. Fish with teeth, all kinds of wrong surely?..I would run screaming from them into the daylight every dad no doubt following behind me shaking his head.

The birdhouse was pure joy for me, it was full of noise and colour. I was fascinated by the various shades of the raucous budgie flock and trying to get the mynah bird to speak to me (never managed a meaningful conversation with it!). I still don't quite understand whose idea it was to place 2 large macaws on stands on either side of the doors as you entered, they were terrifying and would reach out to peck at you as you tried to pass unless they were distracted by food.

The fish and the birds are long gone...who knows, those macaws could still be around today somewhere else terrorising someone in their old age...I kind of hope so;) Anyway, the glasshouses have been beautifully restored and returned to their former glory to show off plants from around the world. Small boy loved the huge cacti but strangely enough didn't want to try and sit on his evil mother suggested;)

Walking down the main path from the glasshouses, the herbaceous borders were rich with colour, shapes and scents. I got quite lost in the beauty of it all...quite literally, Chris and the kids had to wait ages for me to catch them up;). I've never seen a gypsophila so huge and it looked stunning next to the apricot foxgloves. The allium, I think it's 'Summerbells' looked like little clusters of fairy turrets (yes, it's exactly what they would look like) amongst the backdrop of the seedheads of 'Purple Sensation.' The colour combination was so perfect, it wouldn't have worked as well had they been in flower together but the muted colour of the seedheads made for a perfect mix. Bees were going mad for the catmint...I think it was catmint anyway, it was one of the plants not labeled frustratingly, probably because they expect people to know what it is! There are so many ideas for planting combinations to borrow, and I for one need all the help I can get on that one:) I somehow forgot that that's one of the joys of botanical gardens, it's like walking through the pages of a very lovely gardening book. I have promised myself to visit more regularly from now on even though I still really miss the fish! 

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Comments are always welcome, nice kind ones at least! Any advice for a complete novice would also be gratefully received:) Thanks.