Ready, aim fire! The amazing cannonball tree

Whilst on holiday in Sri Lanka in March 2016 I visited the very impressive Royal Botanic Gardens at Peradeniya, not far from Kandy. The history of the gardens dates back to 1371 however the existing site was chosen in 1821 and it has since undergone several transformations over the decades to now be considered amongst the best botanic gardens in the sub-continental region. Continue reading “Ready, aim fire! The amazing cannonball tree”

Sri Lanka garden tour: a piece of serendipity

Sri Lanka was never on my list of gardening destinations. A tiny island off the south east coast of India, the former British colony of Ceylon, it was associated in my mind with cricket and tea but never gardening. Then when I had been working as a Tour Leader for Renaissance Tours for a few years, a friend, John Ekin, persuaded me to consider a tour to Sri Lanka. Continue reading “Sri Lanka garden tour: a piece of serendipity”

Of spice and tea

As someone who came to the study of landscape history from a love of flowers and gardening, I write surprisingly little about horticulture. So, to make amends, this whole post is about some of the plants we saw on our recent trip to the southern Indian state of Kerala. Continue reading “Of spice and tea”

Lonely trees

Do you ever see a tree and think “Where did you come from, where are your parents, how did you get here?”? I occasionally ponder these questions when I see a tree that seems to be the only one of its kind growing in the area. Continue reading “Lonely trees”

The Rock Garden at Chandigarh

It started in 1965 as an illegal development on protected forest land. Its creator was inspired by Le Corbusier’s use of concrete in the city of Chandigarh, yet what he produced is folk art that stands in extraordinary contrast to Corbusier’s modernist city. For the first ten years of its life, it was entirely secret, its existence known only to the lowly government worker who was behind its painstaking creation. Today it hosts thousands of paying visitors every day, and the site and its creator receive countless awards and regular international press coverage. Continue reading “The Rock Garden at Chandigarh”

You say Burma – I say Myanmar

Hilary and I have just spent two blissful weeks of the second half of October in Myanmar and we are still dreaming about this amazing country. I guess everyone can recall Aung San Suu Kyi, the charismatic and incredibly brave leader of the National League for Democracy in Burma, but little else. We were no different! Continue reading “You say Burma – I say Myanmar”

Real, or not? Dubai, Chelsea & Aalsmeer

Some things you see when you’re travelling are amusing or thought provoking, and it’s nice to have a blog like this to share them. I’m very lucky to lead a garden tour to Europe each year, taking in the Chelsea Flower Show and visiting great and small gardens in different countries. On a loose theme of “Is it real or not?” here are some quirky items from my recent trip.

Continue reading “Real, or not? Dubai, Chelsea & Aalsmeer”

Basils – sacred and fragrant

Over the weekend I purchased a Tulasi plant (Ocimum tenuifolium, prev Ocimum sanctum) known as sacred, or holy basil. The plant is renowned as the most sacred of Indian plants, having great medicinal properties as well as being highly auspicious to have in the garden. Continue reading “Basils – sacred and fragrant”

An Indian Adventure

I’ve been asked to write about our experiences (plus some plant info!) on our recent trip to India. Our third visit to India (it won’t be the last) and each time somewhere different – it was to Assam first for just over a week and then down south to Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Continue reading “An Indian Adventure”