Singapore Botanic Gardens

This historically globally renowned botanic garden became a UNESCO World heritage Site in 2015. It is the first tropical botanic garden to be awarded this prestigious award. Sir Stamford Raffles established the garden in 1822 at Fort Canning. In 1859 the present gardens were founded and laid out by the Agri Horticultural Society. In 1974 the gardens were handed to the British colonial government. Following on from this the gardens grew and developed with the great assistance of a few Kew trained botanists. Today the beautiful Gardens are owned and managed by the National Parks Board.  SBG has been instrumental in the greening and transformation of Singapore into a garden city. The garden consists of 183 acres and has a visitor pull of 4.4 million people a year. It is very famous for its orchid collection which has more than 450 species. In the 1920s, it spearheaded new techniques in raising orchids in aseptic media and founded a regional orchid breeding industry.  It is also a regional centre for plant science, research and conservation in South East Asia. It is well worth a visit and was named Asia’s top park by TripAdvisor in 2013.


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The Thousand Bloom Mum

Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania grows the largest thousand bloom ‘mum’ of its kind outside of Asia.  It has more than 1,500 flowers blooming this year on one plant alone! Two mums are grown from vegetative cuttings to ensure the 1000 bloom mum target is reached. From a single stem it takes 17 months and more than 1,500 staff hours to nurture and train this plant into a perfect blooming dome. Out of the hundreds of Chrysanthemum cultivars only a few are suitable for this size of mum. Longwood use the variety Chrysanthemum xmorifolium ‘Susono-no-Tsuk’. Each month the plants are re-potted, pinched, tied and framed as required. Towards the last month before the mum goes on display in the conservatory final flower placement and selection is carried out and a custom-designed frame built to fit. Longwood’s Chrysanthemum Festival showcases more than 16,000 beautiful Chrysanthemums which is the largest display in the USA.

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Brooklyn Botanic Garden in New York

Growing from its humble beginnings as an ash dump in the 1800’s this 52 acre garden has evolved to become the very best in urban greening, horticultural expertise and display. The garden’s core values are focused on education, sustainable practices and stewardship. It is leading in having a Children’s Garden established since 1914 where children are allowed to grow flowers, vegetables and herbs. Here they learn first-hand about growing and the natural world which surrounds them. There is a wonderful cherry esplanade that blooms in April every year attracting many visitors to experience the garden’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival. The Japanese hill and pond garden is one of the oldest and most visited outside of Japan. A spectacular sight it features wooden bridges, a viewing pavilion and Shinto shrine.  There are also impressive glasshouse pavilions which showcase plant species from around the world.


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Kirstenbosch National Botanic Garden

Kirstenbosch Botanic Garden is in the Cape of South Africa and was established in 1913 to preserve the country’s unique flora. It was one of the first botanic gardens in the world to have this conservation ethos. It has the dramatic backdrop of the slopes of Table Mountain behind it and it effectively blends a natural landscape with a manicured garden beautifully. The plantings change and develop throughout the garden. There are great combinations of agapanthus and sculptural natives. Many of the plants you will recognise and soon remember that this is their native homeland. The collection flows and has a wonderful naturalistic display as you move away from the buildings. It is a wonderful experience to see thickets of Protea and Strelitzia. Sunbirds flitter and dance throughout the garden. Panoramic views can be seen of the landscape as there are many dramatic view points throughout the garden. There are no boundaries towards the upper areas of the garden and here you can walk up the Skeleton Gorge. This route can be accessed to reach the top of Table Mountain and is popular with tourists and walkers.



This romantic and dreamy garden is wonderful to visit.  It is one of the most attractive and imaginative public gardens in America and a contemporary garden within a historic setting. It has 48 acres of rolling landscape, mature trees and a meandering creek. The famous Chanticleer house sits majestically over a sweeping landscape downwards to the west. The garden is divided into various garden rooms featuring different planting combinations and features and each area has its own unique microclimate. The garden design effectively  maximizes the potential of shaded and sunny locations by planting species that will grow best in each environment. Light is cast in different areas of the garden, vistas draw you in, and planting combinations both inspire and provide a relaxing oasis for the visitor.  The garden was originally established by Adolph G. Rosengarten who was the grandson of a German immigrant to America who founded a pharmaceutical business that became part of Merck & Co in 1927. The Rosengartens named their home after Chanticlere in Thackeray’s novel ‘The Newcomers’.  Chanticleer is also the French word for rooster and this theme runs throughout the property. More than 5,000 plants are currently documented and grown in the garden.



The chequered Snake Head’s Fritillary at Cricklade

The beautiful and enchanting snake head’s fritillary which emerges in April every year is one of Spring’s delights. Fritllaria meleagris is a bulbous plant that will put on a great show in your garden. In the Liliaceae family its delicate chequered blooms and its snake like markings explain how it got its name. The leaves are lance shaped with squared shaped bells for flowers that sit at the end of the elegant stems. They could be mistaken for being hand painted which supports how this flower through history has influenced art nouveau designers. William Morris used the fritillary in some of his famous fabrics and Charles Rennie Mackintosh made a painting of it in 1915. Vita Sackville West described it as ‘sullen and foreign looking, the snaky flower’ (The Land 1927).  Plant fritillaries in your garden in damp soil as typically in the wild they grow near a flood plain. Ideally always plant the bulbs in autumn or if you have not enough space why not try them in terracotta pots? If you want to see fritillaries en masse go to North Meadow at Cricklade which is an (SSSI) site in Gloucestershire.   Here you will see thousands growing in an unimproved lowland hay meadow which has been managed in the same way for the last 700 years. Due to modern farming techniques there are only 1000 hectares of unimproved lowland hay meadow remaining in the UK which makes it a very rare sight.

The magnificent Dumfries House and its beautifully restored Queen Elizabeth Garden

Dumfries House near Cumnock in Ayr is definitely a must see for all plant lovers. In 2007 The Prince of Wales saved the Robert and John Adam designed house and its Chippendale furniture for the nation. A trust was set up to look after the house and restore the garden to its former glory. The past two years has seen a remarkable transformation to the estate. The 5 acre Walled Garden has been redesigned by Michael Innes from Fife for visitors and locals to enjoy. He has beautifully restored the Walled Garden whilst taking on board the size and challenging levels.  There are now new terraces, greenhouses, and formal areas as well as an Education Centre used by community groups and schools to teach horticulture. As well as the Walled Garden there is the Rothesay Garden, Woodland Garden and the Formal Gardens by the front of the house to enjoy.

This is a fascinating project and is well worth visiting to see how the gardens at Dumfries House continue to evolve and mature over time.