Island in Bloom Trail
The Isle of Wight bursts into bloom in the summer months and we have amazing gardens to see, some of which are completely free, so here are a few of the best floral displays that you must not miss if you’re a botanical fan.
Although the manor house is very seldom open to the public the extensive gardens are open all summer and at the borders that lead north from the house look particularly spectacular. Next to this is the rose garden full of sweet smelling varieties and a riot of colour.
Up above this area is the small fenced vegetable garden that has an especially good show raspberries, loganberries and pyramids of sweet peas and just above here is the nursery where you can buy many of the things you see in the garden.
To the front of the house is a large lawn overlooking the old church that is fringed with hardy tropicals and more unusual perennials. Most of the plants are labelled, which is useful if you wish to purchase them from the nursery.
There is a cute tea garden on the hedged lawn to the west of the house, where you can see The Shack, a ‘home from home’ 1930s getaway designed by Seely and Paget that used to sit on the downs at Freshwater.
The Italianate terraces that spread out beneath the front of Osborne House will be looking spectacular this summer - beds are topped by special golden crowns that have been made at a local foundry and the planting in the shaped beds is in the colours of the Royal Standard. But you must see the walled garden to the rear of the house that is a riot of colour, texture and pattern with pale scented roses, valerian and lavender decorating the trellised walkway that bisects the garden.
Also in the walled garden are the trained fruit trees and a selection of vegetables amongst the flowers. Down at the Swiss Cottage in the grounds, which was built by Prince Albert for his children to learn gardening and housekeeping, is a well-tended and prolific vegetable and soft fruit garden laid out in immaculate beds with everything from raspberry canes and strawberry plants to peas and carrots.
Ventnor Botanic Gardens
There are several areas to this garden and it is the Mediterranean Garden that is especially striking with a fine show of the tall purple-blue echium flower spikes and the yellow verbascums that favour this corner of the garden. The hydrangea dell is another summer treat with flowers of every genus and hue and beyond it the tree ferns and eucalyptus in the Australian garden are looking particularly lush.
Leading west from the pond with its pretty surrounding beds are the borders, which are full of flowering perennials. A vine covered pathway leads off from here towards the olive grove, while in the arid Westgate Garden above the temperate house there are a number of succulents including the fabulous flower spikes of the Pula – at least ten huge spikes covered in flowers from pale green to a bright emerald.
You can’t visit the fields of lavender that are grown here to make lavender oil because they are so precious but you can walk at leisure around the National Collection garden above the farm courtyard that is planted with over 230 cultivars of lavender. A lavender bordered pathway leads up through the garden from beside one of the two shops that are housed in the pretty red brick barns around the courtyard. Several benches are provided for you to sit and survey the beautiful scented view from beneath the overhanging oak trees – a quintessentially English experience. Another of the barns has been converted into a café selling a selection of teas, cakes and scones – some of which are, of course, flavoured with the flowers. Lavender products made from their oil can be bought in the gift shop and in late July/early August you can visit the barns where the lavender is distilled into the pungent oil.
27 April 2016