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First of all, I have a confession to make: I am ashamed to admit that there are many well-known gardens in the South West that I have not visited. I won’t name names. However, there is one place I go to on a regular basis, the Botanical Gardens at Victoria Park. I realise that the gardens are on my doorstep and therefore in theory easy to visit, but there are other’s equally as near which I have not yet set foot in!
I have spent countless happy hours at the Botanical Gardens, walking, taking photographs, sitting on benches, staring at the trees and taking my dog for a stroll! I try to visit early in the morning or last thing in the evening and have been locked in more than once whilst overstaying my welcome. Needless to say they did come and let me out eventually!
These gardens are less than a mile from the city centre and at over a hundred years old contain a huge collection of trees and plants. The Botanical gardens are set within the Royal Victoria Park. The park was planned in 1829 by a group of local people who wanted to establish a public open space. It was formally opened on October 23rd 1830 when Princess Victoria, then only eleven years old, came to visit with her mother the Duchess of Kent. The Princess (later Queen) made a request that the park be designated as ‘Royal’. This is the only park laid out in the 19th Century with this honour.
The Botanical gardens were initially established in 1840 but really came into their own in 1886 when an amateur botanist called Christopher Broome, came to live in Batheaston. He was devoted to growing and studying plants and on his death his widow donated his 2000 strong collection to the park and the gardens were truly on their way.
I love these gardens because they are interesting at all times of the year. They are also incredibly peaceful and calming especially in the early mornings when there are not many people about and the gardens feel as if they belong to me! The Council, who maintain the gardens, have thoughtfully provided plenty of benches and places to sit and contemplate nature.
Once in the gardens you will notice that they are designed to lead the visitor on a journey through many different gardens, including a rock garden walk, a streamside garden, and a shady pool surrounded by Acers and Magnolias, with a pretty circular seat. The newly converted Pavilion, is given over to educational pursuits, there is also a wonderful herbaceous border and lawn, Magnolias galore, a shrub rose garden and the Great Dell.
The Great Dell is on the other side of the road within the park from the main Botanic Gardens. This area was once a stone quarry and is now home to vast towering Californian Redwoods, tall majestic conifers, the amazing Ginkgo biloba and a mass of scented shrubs and at also at this time of year Cyclamen light up the darker areas with splashes of delicate pink.
The gardens are particularly popular in the spring when the flowering cherries are a riot of pink and white and the incredible magnolias make their showy appearance. Point a camera in any direction and you can’t take a bad shot.
The Acers are also an amazing sight, especially at this time of year when the sun is shining and lighting up the leaves on the trees. Whether you are a plant obsessive like me, or just like a nice relaxing stroll in beautiful surroundings, the Botanical Gardens has it all. Meanwhile, I’m going to plan some garden visits for next year!