I have visited the city of Cambridge on many occasions but I had never even heard of the University Botanical Gardens but what a discovery! An 40 acre oasis of stunning gardens located right in the heart of a major urban city centre.
The gardens are less than a mile south of the city centre and a short walk from the railway station so is easily accesssible. If you are driving there are a number of pay and display spaces along Trumpington road but there is a very good Park and Ride scheme at Junction 11 on the M11 which will take you directly to the gardens.
Created over 170 years ago by a mentor of Charles Darwin the gardens house over 8000 plant species and is home to nine National Plant Collections. It really is the finest arboretum in the whole of the eastern counties and is an essential visit for any garden lover.
I visited in the summer months but you can visit year round because the collections are designed for all round year interest. The winter garden is a wonderful collection of mixed foliage, winter flowers and scents.I loved the arid Rock garden which included a number of rare early – summer flowers and is a perfect pot to sit and admire the gorgeous lake with is abundance of water lillies.
The scented garden was simply overpowering. A short stroll to the small wooden summer house through the numerous herbs and roses was a treat to my sense of smell with a profusion of wonderful scents.
The glasshouses gave me the opportunity to explore a number of other habitats form across the globe. Stunning cactus form arid landscapes and the hot humid atmosphere of the tropical rainforests.
I particularly enjoyed the circular Bog garden close to the lake. beautiful little bridge crossed the waters at one point and was a perfect vantage point form which to look back across the lake towards the rock garden and Pine section of trees. The small number of stepping stones also enabled me to get very close to the waters edge.
Several times I thought I had seen everthing the gardens had to offer only to come across some other section i was not expecting to find. At the far end of the garden i came across this English meadow with a plethora of poppies and other colourful flowers. It was a scene taken from an impressionist painting. This could have been the inspiration for a Monet painting. It was so beautiful. It got me thinking about how important it is for us to help protect our countryside before it is too late.
There is a lovely modern cafe right at the heart of the gardens providing refreshments seated inside or outside on the wide decking area. A large number of benches are dotted about the gardens and there are also good spots to stop and have a picnic should the weather be suitable.
I came across the stunning chair above in the School`s garden. It was a wonderful of piece of art work. i simply loved the shape and the way in which the natural shape and contours of the tree had been used so successfully to produce such a practical piece of garden furniture.
The Botanic gardens are an inspiration for all gardeners whether experts or like me a novice or beginner. I loved the colour and beauty of the plants all around me and appreciated the skill and knowledge needed to produce such a stunning collection of plants in beautiful arrangements.
When you next visit Cambridge put aside some time after the exploration of the city sights and enjoy the beauty of natural world at a more leisurely pace at the Botanical gardens. You will not regret it.
University Botanic Garden
Cambridge CB2 1JE
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James William Davis
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