colours garden design garden furniture garden photography garden ponds garden pools garden wildlife gardening gardens gardens open to the public hardy perennials lakes light light quality ornamental trees and shrubs outdoor sculpture sculpture shrubs town gardens water garden water in the garden wildlife woodland

Winterbourne House Gardens – a city garden

You don’t very often find yourself travelling into the centre of a major city to find a beautiful garden but that is exactly what we had to do to find a garden that had been on our bucket list for years, Winterbourne House Gardens. We travelled along three motorways, the M54, the M6 and finally the A38M into Birmingham until we found the street we were looking for and just 600 yards down there we found the entrance to the garden. Putting up with the motorway journey and the city traffic was soon lost from our minds as the entrance was so welcoming and we knew we were in for a wonderful day.

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Obviously we started our visit by obeying the sign above! The only downside of a visit to this garden is the tearoom being much too small for a wet and cold day. But the garden itself was a beauty with views, pathways and archways to invite us to explore further.

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A botanical garden though is all about special plants and the way they are grown together. There were plenty for us to study at Winterbourne and to help take our minds off the dull skies and increasing threat of heavy showers.

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Little features that draw the eye added extra points of interest to our wanderings.

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An unexpected treat was found as we took a path through woodland, a shaded walk alongside a large lake. The light was very special there. Looking out over the lake we could see the skyscrapers of the city. This was the only time we were aware of our city centre location during our wanderings.

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After enjoying our lakeside promenade we followed the winding path through the water gardens where the giant leaves of Gunneras and Dalmeras dominated and the wide ranging colours of Primulas added interest to the greens.

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We love to see sculpture in gardens so were delighted to spot these beautiful slate pieces  inviting us to read their words. We were amazed to discover that one piece was based on a clock – beautiful!

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So we discovered another garden that we enjoyed so much that we have added it to our favourite list. A great garden in a great city.

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A Canalside Walk in the City Centre

A canalside walk in the city centre! It just has to be Birmingham. You may remember a recent post about the new library in the great city of Birmingham. To those of us who live in the centre of the UK and not in the South and who know the city well, then it is obvious that Birmingham should be the Capital of England and not London. Being in the middle of the country it could represent the whole nation properly without the dreadful North-south divide that having the capital in the south has created.

The first photo is a self portrait and also sets the scene. The following batch illustrates the quality of light available for me to use that day. All the photos were taken on my Galaxy Phone’s camera – great little camera to use on the streets when you don’t want to be noticed. People remain at ease if you have a phone in your hand rather than a camera.

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The new library proved what a vibrant, forward thinking city Birmingham is. This post will feature a part of the city’s past that has been brought back to life. Its canals. Here small business thrive, cafes and bars are full of life and people just wander looking contented.

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We soon discovered that there is such an array of buildings of all shapes, sizes, functions and ages to be viewed from the canal towpath.

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It was hard to imagine as we walked the towpaths that this thin strip of water was a hub of transport a few centuries ago, the equivalent of the clogged M6 motorway we had traveled on to get to it. This little tug barge was one of the few signs of the canal’s previous importance.

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Our usual coffee break was taken within the comfort of one the National Convention Centre cafes. One of our favourite concert venues, the Symphony Hall is integrated with this building. There are some wonderful features here both inside and out.

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As we progressed around our canal-side ramble we got occasional glimpses of the New Library. Can you spot it in the picture below?

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No canal wandering can be complete though without a few reflections to enjoy, and not forgetting a nice old curvy bridge!

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I keep trying to get a good picture of shadows created by benches and am never very pleased with the results. The one below I was actually quite pleased with. I then finish off with a pic of patterns found beneath our feet and my favourite photo of the day, the glass globe against a filigree of delicate branches.

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architecture buildings gardens photography townscapes

The New Birmingham Library

It has been many months since I last wrote about architecture so I very much hope you enjoy this one. Firstly a few letterbox taster shots.

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On Sunday Jude and I plus our two children, Jamie and Jodie, and their respective “other halves”, Sammi and Rob, met up to visit an amazing new building in Birmingham, the new library. We have been watching it under construction for several years as it developed upwards from the place where we used to park the cars when we went to the Symphony Hall. We were full of anticipation as we walked the short distance from the car park. When you have such high expectations of any visit you are fully aware of the likelihood of disappointment. But we were not to be disappointed in the slightest – the library looked amazing from the first glimpse between buildings until we finished exploring outside and in.

The design features based on circles hugged the outside walls and caught the light beautifully. The interplay of shape and light felt so powerful. Our eyes just would not stay still. The reflections that painted the glass a deep blue stood out against the watery blue of the January sky.

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The smoothness of the huge sheets of glass at the bottom of the building reflected the surrounding buildings in such clarity.

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For such a modern building it sits so happily with its neighbours whatever their ages. This is a sign of quality design. I just love old and new architecture sitting side by side like old friends, looking contented and comfortable.

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So far we had only looked at the side of the library so we were looking forward to turning the corner.

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We found a revolving door to afford us entrance to explore inside. We were greeted by the warm aroma of coffee beans being ground and water seeping through them. We had to take a seat and give it a taste.

Inside is just as satisfying, everything perfectly designed and sitting comfortably. Everywhere we looked people, mainly students, were studying or browsing the book shelves. Many stared at computer monitors which lined the inside of the windows.

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Many of the interior fittings and features are based around circles, such as the lighting fittings and the light tubes. The interior lift to the very top few storeys was a cylinder shape which ran in a long circular tube of glass.

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On several levels there was access to the outside onto terraces. These were full of seating built into raised metal planters, featuring interesting plantings and even nest  boxes on poles. Here you can gain different views of the building itself and see its structure in detail.

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Part way around our tour of the top floor we found this little sculpture in one of the terrace gardens.

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From here you also gain close up views of the building itself and get the chance to study the structure itself.

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On one level we finished exploring the terraces and went back in a different entrance to discover a room dedicated to the works of one William Shakespeare. A room from the original Birmingham Library had been dismantled and re-assembled in the new building. The intricate detailing included the book shelves, the wooden wall panels and engravings on the door. The books lined the shelves which were full to capacity.

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The views over the city were stunning! Not everyone seemed happy getting close enough to the edge to appreciate this though!

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Well done to Birmingham! A building to be proud of! We will soon be back.

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