One of its greatest attractions has to be the magnificent ironwork of the glasshouses. The Palm House, built in 1884, dominates the garden yet it is the Curvilinear Range that was pioneering in its structure having been built almost 40 years earlier in 1848.
The smallest insectivorous plants to the mighty palms themselves find a home within these buildings. A walk through the houses is one of contrast, not just in leaf texture and flower colour, but also in temperature and humidity.
insect catching sundews
an insectivorous pitcher plant
Perhaps one of the finest flowering plants was this pale pink Protea, so typical of its type, although I was rather taken by this relatively tiny, deep pink version too, with which I was quite unfamiliar.
The Jade Vine, Strongylodon macrobotrys, was another plant that was totally unknown to me. It's luminous, turquoise, metre long pendants of flowers looked quite eerie hanging high in the canopy - if it had not been for the fallen petals glowing on the floor they would have gone unnoticed. The plant, which naturally grows in the forests of the Phillipines, rarely sets seed when grown in these conditions as it has to be physically damaged by a large pollinator (what, I don't know).
The sunniest day of the year so far ensured that light falling onto the plants revealed them at their finest, especially when the leaves were backlit - every photographer's dream!
The gardens, themselves are deserving of attention and exploration and these will be featured shortly.