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Three Winter Gardens – Part Two – Cambridge Botanic Gardens

We had never been to Cambridge before. Lots of people told us it is just like Oxford its parallel university city. We decided to put things right and find out for ourselves so spent a few days there. One day we spent in the University Botanic Gardens where we were keen to explore the winter garden as we had heard good things about it.

We were pleased we decided to visit both Cambridge and its botanic garden as we enjoyed both immensely. The Botanic Garden was good enough to make us plan to return in different seasons. If a garden impresses in winter then it will at any time.

So for part two of my “Three Winter Gardens” we shine the spotlight on Cambridge. Look out for a post in the near future looking at the rest of the garden in winter too.

We knew we were in for a treat for within the first 20 yards of our walk after passing through the gate we were mystified by a couple of plants we did not know.

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Luckily they were both labelled and I shall say what they are in my post about the gardens in general but first off to the Winter Garden. We were particularly keen to see this seasonal patch as it had been created in 1989 so now it is well established. Many gardens now boast winter borders or winter gardens and we have even created one on our allotment site in the communal areas, but these are mostly immature.

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Trees and shrubs give the impact in any winter garden often as here at Cambridge they are birches and willows.

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We were particularly impressed with the use of ground cover, an aspect we have not used very well in our allotment version. We were to learn so much and go home full of enthusiasm to develop effective ground cover in our allotment’s winter garden. Ivies, periwinkles and hellebores added so much. We already use hellebores but not ivies and periwinkles but they present so many opportunities, with all the varieties in leaf colour, variegation and shape in ivies and flower colours in the periwinkles. Bergenias and grasses together worked well in other places, because of their unusual foliage colours and contrasting leaf shape.

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This was a very effective colour combination which in any other season probably wouldn’t have worked. Daphne mezereum and Forsythia Lynwood. Of course the daphne also provided that other essential of any winter border – sweet scent. The sweetest scent of all came from another Daphne, Jacquelin Postill.

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The coloured stems of coppiced and pollarded Cornus (dogwoods) and Salix (willows) have to star in any winter garden and they certainly did here along with Rubus.

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Two gems worth a special mention are the winter flowering iris and the wonderful leaves of Arum italicum marmoratum.

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I shall finish with this photo looking back at the gently curving path through the winter border. The third of my winter garden visits will be to Anglesay Abbey, probably the best known and most polular of all the winter gardens in this country. We shall see if it deserves this accolade.

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By greenbenchramblings

A retired primary school head teacher, I now spend much of my time gardening in our quarter acre plot in rural Shropshire south of Shrewsbury. I share my garden with Jude my wife a newly retired teacher , eight assorted chickens and a plethora of wildlife. Jude does all the heavy work as I have a damaged spine and right leg. We also garden on an allotment nearby. We are interested in all things related to gardens, green issues and wildlife.

One reply on “Three Winter Gardens – Part Two – Cambridge Botanic Gardens”

Nice photos again. I like the idea of a winter garden, but it does seem to work much better in a more benign climate which doesn’t spend months under snow. Maybe over here we can pioneer some kind of “fireside” garden 🙂

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