October 18, 2017

Focus on Cambridge Gardens

Cambridge is not just about studying and punting on the River Cam. There are many horticultural wonders to be visited as well. We will have a quick look at three quite different gardens; classical Victorian design, a wilderness, and a world-renowned botanical garden – take your pick!

Christ’s Pieces

If you are looking for inspiration in the form of classical Victorian park designs, then this is the garden to visit. In a month or two, the tree-lined avenues will be looking at their best. Sporting some really traditional formal borders, the ‘petal beds’ near Emmanuel Road, showcase year-round colour and interest. Along the perimeter of the garden are planted large ornamental shrub beds. Not content with avenues, formal borders and ornamental shrubs, there is also the New Rose Garden with was planted in remembrance of Diana, Princess of Wales. With so much to see at Christ’s pieces there is inspiration available for everyone – regardless of the size of your garden!

The Cambridge Backs

The Cambridge Backs are one of the few Grade 1 Historic parks. In the heyday of his garden designing, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown was consulted for the landscape layout. He designed a layout based on wilderness. This can still be seen today on the college side of Queen’s Road. If Capability Brown can design ‘wilderness’ there is hope for every garden! In this, the 300th Anniversary of “England’s greatest gardener”, why not visit one of Capability Brown’s more unusual designs? The views from the banks of the River Cam are stunning year-round with carpets of crocuses and daffodils during the springtime. The Cambridge Backs themselves are a stretch of reclaimed land running along the ‘backs’ of the colleges on the riverside. Also of interest on The Backs are the bridges, including the Bridge of Sighs and the Mathematical Bridge.

Cambridge University Botanic Garden

The Cambridge University Botanic Garden was first opened to the public in 1846 and is a real gem in the UK horticultural crown. They are able to display over 8,000 different plant species in 40 wonderful acres. In the Botanic Gardens there truly is something to inspire everyone during every season. Visit the winter garden and glasshouses to be amazing at what can be achieved regardless of the English seasons. If arboriculture is what inspires you, the Botanic Garden has a not-to-be-missed collection of mature trees that are a sight to behold. National Plant Collections are big part of the life of the Botanic Gardens. The National Plant Collection is a scheme that is run by the Plant Heritage charity. Their mission is to: “conserve, grow, propagate, document and make available the amazing resource of cultivated plants that exists in the UK”. National Collections include:

  • Alchemilla
  • Fritillaria
  • Lonicera
  • Ruscus
  • Tulipa
  • Bergenia
  • Geranium
  • Ribes
  • Saxifraga

To be recognised as holding a National Collection of a particular plant is one thing, to hold nine is something else. Visit these botanical gardens and let it inspire your own horticultural journey.

Whether you are inspired by the prestige of a National Collection, or a designed wilderness, there is something for every gardener in Cambridge!

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