As it’s all gorn a bit grey and bleah, I’m posting a few images of Abbotsbury Sub-Tropical Gardens.
If you turn the heating up really high and sit on a beach towel underneath your largest pot plant – preferably some kind of palm and not a Christmas cactus – in the living room with a glass of rum punch decorated with an umbrella, a plastic parrot stirrer (the smaller onefor stirring drinks, not the bigger one for stirring parrots) and a load of cherries and fruit, you might almost be in a tropical paradise. Either that, you might be a bit mad.
So Abbotsbury Sub-Tropical Gardens is a “must visit” if you’re anywhere near Weymouth, Portland, Bridport or Lyme Regis in Dorset. You will find a fantastic array of incredibly healthy, huge trees, lush shrubs and herbaceous stuff. I won’t attempt to even begin a species list but suffice to say there’s a strong chance you won’t have seen many of these before.
There were a couple of hefty showers when we visited, giving the place an extra-steamy feel. It extends over 20 acres, but we only had a fairly limited look. One of our party was a learner on a mobility scooter, so we road-tested the “Disabled” route for wheelchairs.
Our learner, who coped well with Weymouth Esplanade thanks to pedestrians scattering as they saw her approach, went a bit wild in the sub-tropicals. She got all cavalier with her vehicle and just when you really wanted to meander at leisure to smell the flowers – literally – she’d turn the speed dial up to 11 and shoot off. She got so over-confident, I swear she was leaning into the bends in the path.
It was a job to keep up and the opportunity to take photographs was therefore limited until she came to an enforced halt in the middle of a wet lawn, demonstrating the limitations of the narrowish tyres and the shortcoming of the “disabled” route. I was able to snap off a whole batch of pics before helping to give her a push out of the mire.
Apart from slewing unexpectedly into a banana tree, which resulted in a severe loss of confidence “It’s not safe on hills. I feel I should put my feet out!” the rest of the circuit was completed without incident and we landed up in a totally fab plant centre which was so full of beautiful, unusual, exquisite plants that it made my mouth water. I don’t know why I get that reaction, but there you are. I bought as many plants as I could humanly squash into the car along with the mobility scooter and two other people including a succulent Aeonium Zwartkop with magnificent rosettes of dark red shiny leaves which thrives on – wait for it – not being watered!
The knowledgeable garden centre man assured me “Keep it indoors during the winter but no, don’t water it more than once a month. You’ll know when it needs water because the leaves will look droopy.”
Hey, I’ve found my kind of plant!
NB: Three glasses of rum punch and I honestly think that tropical paradise thing might be distinctly do-able.