With around 200 parks, woodlands and gardens, our city holds the accolade of the greenest city in England. From the award winning Peace Gardens, with it's water features and fabulous fountains, and a backdrop of the Victorian Town Hall, to the Winter Gardens, which is the largest temperate glasshouse in any European city.
My favourite by far is the Botanical Gardens. If you like facts and figures, it was first opened in 1836, designed by Robert Marnock, and it covers an area of some 19 acres. They hold the national collection of Weigela, Diervilla and Sarcococca.
In recent years, there has been much restoration to the whole site to return it to it's 19th century condition, while bringing it up to safety and access standards of today.
The glass pavillions, housing temperate plants from all over the world, were re-opened in 2003 by HRH Prince of Wales.
The restoration work was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, with 25% of the monies matched by the FOBS by means of various fundraising events...which brings me to the reason I've entered this into my blog. The FOBS Plant Sales!
Several times each year, the FOBS hold plant sales to help boost the coffers of the Botanical Gardens, this helps keep gardens like these free to the public. The Hardy Plant Society also hold plant sales at the site. The bonus of having sales like these not only helps you find the perfect plant for the tricky spot you're trying to fill and all the advice you could possible wish for, but they are so much cheaper than buying from a garden centre.
We arrived early at the gardens to take advantage of the beautiful displays. This time of year, the gardens are usually in full bloom with their collection of rhododendrons and azaleas, but the Spring coming late has put most of them back a couple of weeks, a perfect opportunity to visit between plant sales.
I came home happy and tired with a bag of promises. Pulmonaria sissinghurst white. Its white spotted leaves and white spring flowers should lift a shady spot in my cottagey front garden. Astriantia ruby wedding will be perfect for the heavy soil in the front garden. Sedum telephium will be at home in my new border behind the garage, in the light soil and full sun (should we get some) and Potentilla Gibson's Scarlett will be happy here too.
I made one final purchase of what I initially thought was a form of hibiscus, but on closer inspection learned it was form of Pelargonium named 'Jungle Night'. I very rarely buy a plant on impulse, preferring to ensure I spend my pennies wisely on plants I know I have the correct conditions for, or can provide. This little beauty though, drew me in, held me tight and refused to allow me to move on without it tucked into my little basket. I have yet to find information about it, so for now it sits in my kitchen window. Waiting.