Over the bank holiday weekend I took the opportunity to venture out of Essex up to the Cambridge University Botanic Gardens. Surrounded by the busy urban setting of Cambridge the gardens provides a welcome green space.
As soon as you enter the garden you are transported to a different world, the busy streets and noise from traffic becomes dull and is no longer visible, planting beds full to the brim with Alliums greet you and draw you further into the landscape. With a choice of direction we chose to take the walk through the more wooded area where there were less people headed, it also provided a nice cool walk and a break from the sun which was beating down on us. The path led us to the back of the lake where we were able to get glimpses of what was to come on our journey through the rest of the botanic gardens.
Exploring the dry gardens next to the lake was by far my favourite part of the garden, not only because they are one of my favourite planting styles but because the way these were designed allowed for the highest user interaction, gravel paths denoted by larger rocks and boulders meandered through the area changing direction every few footsteps and changing in levels. It created so many different views across the gardens and paths lead you out of the dry garden into a totally different style of planting.
Changes in topography it utilised to the its full potential through out the garden creating vantage points indicating destinations to head to in the gardens. As well as this, planting schemes have carefully been designed to entice users of the garden into different areas, for instance the large leaves of a Gunnera draw users to the waters edge where large stepping stones appear creating an informal bridge across the lake. A bonus to this is that large koi carp swim in and out the lily pads, their bright colours draw attention, inevitably stopping users and allowing them to appreciate the beauty of the space which surrounds them.
Tucked away from the most popular features of the garden is a beautiful arboretum with mown paths through a sea of daisies. It provides an area to stop and just relax in the area, it also introduces some much needed shade to the garden.
It was really interesting to see that different people attracted to the Botanic Gardens. There were families with both younger and older children, couples for all ages, tourists and professionals. Overall the botanic gardens are really well designed with open spaces, shade, shelter and calming and active spaces. The garden caters for everyone.