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In the depths of Winter it can be hard to stay enthused about the garden yet if you know where to look there are some stunning examples of a Winter garden. One such place in the Cambridge University Botanic Garden and yesterday was the day I went to see for myself. I was not disappointed.

Winter Garden

Winter Garden

First the factual bits for those who like to know these things: the garden opened in 1846 and has been a focus and stimulus for science and research in the University. The gardens comprise forty acres of gardens and glasshouses which hold Grade II* heritage landscape. It was the vision of John Stevens Henslow who was a professor of botany at the University and mentor to Charles Darwin no less. Henslow’s new, perhaps ground breaking idea, was that the Botanic Garden should be for the experimental study of the plants rather than just a physic garden for the medical students. Today the garden holds over 8,000 plant species.

I did not see any where near 8,000 plants but those that I did see were very beautiful, just look at the Acer Grisium in the picture above, surrounded by the stunning bank of Cornus ‘Midwinter Fire’

Acer grisium

Acer grisium

The Dogwoods were in good colour and I liked the use of the smaller leaf Bergenia Bressingham Ruby as ground cover, such a good form.

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Cornus alba sibirica with Hellebore


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Bergenia Bressingham Ruby

If you really only like white in the garden and find all the colour rather vulgar, the next combination is rather spectacular:White stemmed bramble underplanted with snowdrops

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Rubus Goldenvale

A vicious plant with long whippy thorny growth which needs an annual prune to encourage the new white stems for next year, gauntlets and chaps recommended.

After looking at the Winter garden on such a cold day it was necessary to warm up in the cafe. The food is very good and reasonably priced with a great selection of vegetarian dishes.

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Stylish cafe area, note the trained Lime trees


Trailing hellebore, corten steel

Trailing hellebore, corten steel

A couple of things that I brought away from the visit is the idea of using Hellebore foetidus as a trailing plant and the cacti and succulents in the glass houses.  I will share those another time.

Anyway, if the weather is getting you down, don’t let it.  Grab your coat and hat and get out there to see some something beautiful,

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Maximum? no reading.

whatever the weather.

Enjoy your weekend.