Garden School:

Garden School:
Teaching this week: Assessing a new garden, and when to say "No" !

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Abbotsbury sub-tropical gardenings: get ready to go!

Ever been there? Right down on the south Dorset coast,  not far from Weymouth. It's a long way to go from, well, almost everywhere, but if you like something a little bit more out of the ordinary from your garden visits, then find the time to get down there over the next couple of weeks.

From Thursday 17th Oct to Sunday 3rd November they are again repeating the fabulous "Enchanted Floodlit Garden" event, where they fix up the garden with theatre-style lighting, and open until 8.30 at night.

I went last year, and it was quite lovely, and very, very different. The lights start at dusk, obviously, but you can spend the afternoon there looking at the garden in daylight, then have something to eat in the restaurant, and after dusk you can go round again, and see it in a wholly different light - literally!

As the name suggests, their planting is very much slanted towards the nearly-tropical, and to enhance the effect they have some very colourful free range attractions, such as these two little fellows:

 Please don't ask me what type of bird they are, I don't have a clue. But you can see the general jungly foliage effect of the place.

I'd driven down in the afternoon, so I had a good couple of hours to wander round in daylight - it was a grey, miserable day, but as usual, I don't let that stop me from enjoying a garden! Besides, I'd come prepared with waterproof hat and coat, walking boots, gloves, and of course a torch for after dark.

The restaurant was a cosy place to while away the hour of twilight: normally they do just lunches and snacks, but for the evening openings they have some good hot food: not a big meal, but enough to perk you up for the evening session.

At last it was dark enough, the lights came on, and oh boy, the word "lights" does not do them justice.

Nor do my photos, unfortunately: having just a cheap cameraphone, I didn't expect much, and in the dark I couldn't even see if they were coming out clearly or not, so I only took a couple of snaps, then gave up and just wandered around, saying "coo!" at every turn.

Here's an extremely ordinary Choisya, made extraordinary by red uplighting:

Abbotsbury Floodlit Garden
And here's a wonderful crown-lifted shrub:

Abbotsbury Floodlit Garden
I'm extremely keen on crown-lifting, of clearing the lower twigs and some branches in order to make a more dramatic shrub -

Abbotsbury Floodlit Garden
...with the added advantage of enlarging the planting area of the garden.  It's clear that someone at Abbotsbury agrees with me!

Although these photos are all happen to be red, there were blue lights, yellow, white - it was fantastic.

One of the most striking ones, I thought, was a common old oak tree: not a venerable specimen, just a lovely straight upright trunk, with the bark uplit in blue, and the bark was just amazing. I had no idea that oak had such interesting patterns and textures to it!

Once I'd had my fill, I drove off to the local Travelodge for the night, then made my way home next day.

It was well worth the effort, and I would certainly recommend it!

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