England is memorable for more than just the Royal Family. The gardens in England are diverse, memorable, and often captivate the heart. As much as I love the gardens of Paris, the gardens found in England have always fascinated me.
I traveled to London in 2019. The memory of that adventure lingers in my thoughts almost daily. With my garden club member, Eileen, and my Aunt Yvonne, this trip promised to make a few dreams come true. I was planning on seeing ALL the gardens. With the time I allotted that would not be possible. Each of us had a reason for this trip. my Aunt wanted to see the museums, palaces and just explore something different. Eileen really wanted to see gardens and Selfridges, one of the oldest department stores in England. I of course wanted to see gardens.
The David Austin Rose Gardens was my first mission. That was a birthday gift to me. I also wanted to go to Kew Gardens, The Chelsea Physic Garden, and anything else along the way. Some of the gardens I wanted to see, I found out were in the outskirts of England and accessible via train. Planning is everything. Confirming plans months in advance will be one of the most critical action items for the next trip.
We arrived via train from Paris to England, figured out the Underground, connected with Eileen, and checked in. Eileen flew from the United States to England. Our accommodations were quaint but divine. We were not there to stay in the room but to explore and make memories. We definitely made memories. On day one, we made time to visit KEW Gardens.
I had to pinch myself often, pace myself, and breathe. It was quite amazing to see Chihuly in the greenhouse and gardens at The Royal Botanic Gardens – KEW, I have to admit, the gift shop was awesome as well.
STRATEGIC TRAVEL PLANNING
Eileen and I planned on visiting Chiswick, The Garden Museum, and Selfridges. Eileen was in charge of scheduling which mode of travel was most efficient. Chiswick was the proper starting point. From rugby, rowing, nature preserves to gardens, Chiswick has a sacred spot in history and horticulture. The landscape has many historical plants that have survived over many years. Did you know the Beatles performed there? The Camellias in the glasshouse. As you meander along the grounds, you can sense the importance of the site. The grounds are open to the public for events like hiking and biking. Traveling on the London Underground connecting with the Tunham Green and Piccadilly lines allowed for a short walk to Chiswick. We paused, took photos, and grabbed a bite to eat at the cafe on the grounds. We watched our time as we paused before heading to the next destination.
THE GARDEN MUSEUM
Wandering the streets of London to find what we were looking for was rewarding. It was a terrific way to get a sense of not being a foreigner, but a local. Each neighborhood had a different garden-sense. The Garden Museum was absolutely awesome. This was a place I should have planned on spending an entire day. England has been on my list of dream places to visit. Many of England’s gardens are featured in travel brochures. Finding the lesser-known gardens can be a gift. There was so much to see and do in England, in addition to quite a few options for gardens to visit.
The Garden Museum shared moments of how we gardened in the past. Visitors can see the cumbersome clogs, uniforms, metal flower pots, and more. Visitors can view a collection of original seed cases. Seeds from foreign lands were stored inside after they were collected. These cases provided protection for the journey back to England. One of my favorite people, Beth Chatto, was captured on a video. talking about the garden. It was almost as if I was in her living room chatting about her perspective on gardening. I really didn’t want to leave. We did make time to pause by the gift shop, much to my delight. Fun fact – John Tradescant is buried in the garden at The Garden Museum.
CHELSEA PHYSIC GARDENS
On the day Eileen left England, Aunt Yvonne and I took our time and went to the Chelsea Physic Garden. It was a delightful morning to calmly enjoy our final day in England. We took the bus – I am not a bus person, but I did it. Fortunately, it dropped us off right in front of the garden. We experienced the daily tour. Several medicinal plants were brought back from the Caribbean and are still in use today. Island women were feeding their babies this concoction later called milk chocolate. It made me quite happy that the Islands played a role in plants that were useful and necessary. The importance of including this truth in the tour meant quite a lot. It was representative of acknowledging the role of diversity and understanding different cultures. Thank you Hans Sloane for appreciating milk chocolate and sharing that knowledge with your peers.
The garden rooms we toured were amazing. History is always intriguing. However, there is something special about a well-stocked gift shop. England’s gift shops had little tokens for capturing the memories of a terrific trip.
One day, I will return to England with enough time to linger. The planning is underway for the next big adventure. Discovering gardens near and far bring me joy. It is a way to see how others – including Mother Nature – embrace the beauty that surrounds us.
Do you enjoy traveling to dream gardens in far off lands? Are you a minute-by-minute planner or do you linger along the way?
Ordering seeds, dreaming of gardens and planning my next trip to England.
Teri, Cottage In The Court
England, Chihuly, and memories linger in my mind.