As I have a particular interest in herbs and a growing interest in plant families, we decided that we would visit some Botanic Gardens this year; so Paul and I visited Bristol and Oxford Botanic Gardens. Our own nearby Botanic Gardens at Ness is much bigger than these and so I enjoyed visiting two gardens which are smaller in scale, highly labelled and less commercial in nature.

Bristol Botanic Gardens

Bristol Botanic Garden is in the suburbs of Bristol close to the University Halls of Residence. It is quite small at 1.77 hectares, but contains a variety of collections – Evolution, Mediterranean, Local Flora and Rare Natives, Useful Plants (including Chinese Medical Plants). Paul was very interested in the Evolution of Plants, and I spent a long time in the Useful Plants, looking particularly at the medical herbs. The glasshouses were also interesting and it was good to see this wonderful resource being a part of University life.

Also, the lady in the shop was really friendly and helpful – so nice to find nowadays!

I also bought a gigantic pot of Aloe Vera for £1, yes £1 !!! I have divided the plant up into a number of smaller pots, which was quite a prickly undertaking.

Oxford Botanic Gardens

A few days later we visited Oxford Botanic Gardens. These gardens are very much in the City Centre and so it is quite tricky to park. Again the gardens were of a manageable size, being 2 hectares of gardens plus extensive glasshouses.

The Walled Garden houses the scientific collections:

The Lower Garden contains the ornamental collections:

We visited on a lovely but hot day, so as my energy was pretty low I focused on looking at the Plant Family Beds and the Medicinal Section. These were all very well laid out and properly labelled. I ended up walking around in my bare around the beds which was grassed – so nice on a hot day.

Paul and I spend a lot of time gardening and visiting gardens. It was a nice change to get the old brain cells working, and each Botanic garden had it’s own specialities and attractions. Sadly neither had a café or even a coffee machine, but I suppose you can’t have everything! Next Botanic Garden to visit – Birmingham?