Rec­om­mended places to see sea­sonal plants at their best both in Europe and the UK

Gardens Illustrated Magazine - - DIG IN -

The Wad­den Is­lands form a long ar­chi­pel­ago in the North Sea that stretches from the Nether­lands to Den­mark. Five of the in­hab­ited is­lands lie off the Dutch coast and the small­est of these is Schier­mon­nikoog. The is­land is rich in fauna and flora, and in 1989 was des­ig­nated a Na­tional Park. Although it’s just nine miles long and two miles wide, the is­land in­cludes a vast range of dif­fer­ent habi­tats, in­clud­ing forests, saline grass­lands, dunes, mud­flats and pold­ers – all filled with flow­ers. As you’d ex­pect it’s es­pe­cially rich in coastal plants, such as seabuck­thorn, sea laven­der, sea worm­wood and sea aster as well as many dif­fer­ent types of lichens and mush­rooms. The is­land is also home to thou­sands of birds, in­clud­ing bar­na­cle geese, spoon­bills and hen har­ri­ers, mak­ing Schier­mon­nikoog a fab­u­lous des­ti­na­tion for bird lovers as much as gar­den­ers. The is­land is mainly car free, and there are sev­eral places to stay to give you time to en­joy all it has to of­fer. In low win­ter light the land­scape of sand­banks, marshes, and the end­less beach with un­spoilt views takes on a des­o­late beauty. Reeweg 5, 9166 PW, Schier­mon­nikoog, the Nether­lands. Tel +31 (0)519 53 12 33, vvvschier­mon­

The Nether­lands’ old­est botan­i­cal gar­den is Hor­tus Botan­i­cus Lei­den, which dates back to the 1590s. It was here that the botanist Caro­lus Clu­sius (15261609) bred the first large col­lec­tion of that most

iconic of Dutch flow­ers, the tulip. You can get an idea of what the gar­den was like when Clu­sius be­came its first di­rec­tor in 1594, from the Clu­sius Gar­den, which has been ren­o­vated with new plants. But be­yond this first gar­den there is much more to ex­plore in­clud­ing trop­i­cal glasshouses, a large sys­tem­atic gar­den, an ar­bore­tum and a Ja­panese gar­den that dis­plays the links the gar­den has to the plant col­lec­tor Philipp Franz von Siebold, who in the 19th cen­tury in­tro­duced more than 700 new plants to Europe from Ja­pan. Open 10am-4pm, €7.50. Rapen­burg 73, 2311 GJ Lei­den, the Nether­lands. Tel +31 (0)71 527 5144 hor­tuslei­

One of our favourite win­ter gar­dens in the UK is that of Poles­den Lacey in Sur­rey. Cre­ated by the late rose ex­pert Gra­ham Stu­art Thomas (1909-2003), the gar­den is hid­den away be­hind the gar­dener’s cot­tage in a quiet cor­ner of the for­mal gar­dens, and is cen­tred around three Per­sian iron­woods ( Par­ro­tia per­sica) linked by win­ter aconites. It also fea­tures win­ter shrubs, in­clud­ing vibur­num and sweet box and other fra­grant plants, as well as col­lec­tions of snow­drops and colour­ful helle­bores. Great Bookham, nr Dork­ing, Sur­rey RH5 6BD. Tel 01372 452048, na­tion­al­

In win­ter it’s some­times nice to es­cape the wind and the rain for the warmth of a glasshouse. So, if you haven’t yet vis­ited the re­stored Tem­per­ate House at the Royal Botanic Gar­dens, Kew, then a cold, win­ter day is your per­fect ex­cuse. The restora­tion, which took five years to com­plete, was the big­gest ren­o­va­tion project in Kew’s his­tory and in­volved re­plac­ing thou­sands of panes of glass and re­pair­ing the in­tri­cate iron­work and paved floor­ing. Open daily 10am-3.30pm. Kew, Richmond, Lon­don TW9 3AE.

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