That was Then, This is Now

Image result for birmingham botanical gardens

Back in the day (and I am talking last century) before we got married the lady who was to become my wife worked in a suburb of Birmingham. When I visited her we found things to do and one of these was to go to Birmingham’s Botanical Gardens. Where, incidentally she bought her first real house plant: a coleus* (flame nettle). This particular specimen provided cuttings (often taken using a then-popular Baby-Bio Rooting bag), amusement and no little patience and lasted several years.

I was reminded of this recently when our daughter presented me with a splendid coleus as a Father’s day gift.

But, yesterday we again went to Birmingham Botanical gardens: a slightly longer guided by sat-nav journey.

How much the place has changed – and definitely for the better!

Image result for birmingham botanical gardens 

We dodged the predicted showers learning about the local doctor who discovered foxgloves contained digitalis and used it for heart conditions (Dr Withering), looking at the specimen plantings, the indoor “houses” with plants from different climates of the world, the trials garden, the scarecrow garden (where sadly a dead robin lay beneath artful net cloches), the aviary, and the marvellously populated butterfly house. Plants and features along the paths (named for plant hunters and prominent gardeners), wide and open or twisting and “secretive”, were well labelled and the labels gave hints and details.

The gardens outside the butterfly house were eco-friendly and interactive.

Image result for birmingham botanical gardens butterfly house

Of course, this being the school summer holidays, there were children around, often, at agues with grandparents, while parents were at work. Eating, sitting, playing on the expansive, slopes of the well-tended lawn, or in the pavilion café. But this made the contrasting peace of the tucked-away Japanese garden and the serene sculptures of the national Bonsai collection all the more noticeable.

“The 18th and early 19th centuries were times of global exploration, which resulted in the discovery and introduction to Britain of enormous numbers of new plants from all over the world, including many unknown even to botanists. These novelties aroused such interest among well-to-do middle-class citizens that botanical and horticultural societies were set up all over the country. Birmingham Botanical and Horticultural Society, which manages the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, was founded in 1829. The site selected was 18 acres of leased land on Lord Calthorpe’s Estate. The Gardens were designed by J.C. Loudon, a Scotsman who was a leading garden planner, horticultural journalist and publisher.”

This was a day well spent and included the purchase of a “tuned” wind chime.

On the intriguing seeing-parts-of-Brum we’ve-never-seen-before return we talked about what features a city should have: botanical gardens, a zoo, cinema, a museum, a historical monument such as a castle, an art gallery, canals, an airport, parks, at least one university, theatres, libraries, cricket, rugby and football teams, a railway station …

We could not decide on whether a cathedral was a necessity (a mosque, a synagogue, a gudwara …) or whether street markets were essential or transitory. And bridges ?

Good days can get you thinking of such abstract things; doesn’t mean you have to get to a definitive answer.


3 responses to this post.

  1. Sounds like a good day was had. Bridges are useful if you don’t have a boat.


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