Tag Archives: United Kingdom

Eden Project, Cornwall, UK

16 Jan

For a gardener, England is a magical place, full of lovingly designed and tended gardens–from the formal and majestic to the whimsical and intimate.  Alas, December isn’t the best time to visit gardens in England, but for hardier aficionados, there are many things to see even in winter. And then, for the rest of us, there are indoor gems like the Eden Project in Cornwall, which features huge covered biomes built on the site of an old china clay pit:

It was my one request on our recent trip to the British Isles: a few days in Cornwall to see the Eden Project and explore some of the natural beauty of the area. I was tempted to stop in at the Lost Gardens of Heligan (having read Tim Smit’s fascinating book on the restoration of the famous gardens there), but wanted to save that experience for a future summer, should I ever have the opportunity.

The Eden Project was a novelty, mostly because it is such an unusual space. Taking advantage of a fine morning, we walked through the outdoor gardens first, then made our way inside –to the Rainforest and Mediterranean biomes.

Here are just a few of the sights that were a pleasure to behold in December: Golden Chalice Vine, Parakeet Heliconia, a striking plant with red stems and lobed green fruits that I have not been able to identify (so if anyone happens to know what it is, enlightenment would be much appreciated!*), the unfurling leaf of a banana tree  (I never quite thought about how that happened before–it was a revelation), and finally, a lizard that almost completely blended into the background until one of our sharp-eyed friends spotted it.

*Update Feb 2014: I now know what the previously  unidentified plant is — it is a Glory Bower (Clerodendrum speciosissimum);  the third photo below shows the fruits of the plant.



Meditation on a Fine Cup of Tea

13 Jan

During the holidays, we hurtled around parts of England, Wales, and Ireland. December in the British Isles is just a wee bit grey, windy, and wet. But it was a lovely trip–not the least because at every turn,  there was a cup of tea: early morning, mid morning, afternoon, and evening. The perfect antidote to a wintery climate, the perfect reward for a long day out and about, and the perfect way to transition from activity to rest. In my admittedly biased view, nothing beats the rich, deep, reddish brown of a fine cup of  black tea (“black” tea being a slight misnomer). And there is no better way to have a strong cup of tea than milky and sweet.

Ok, there is a better way– having it milky and sweet, and accompanied by scones, clotted cream, and strawberry  jam. The ecstasies engendered among our family members at the sight of a proper cream tea cannot be adequately described. Suffice to say, we partook, and then partook some more (and then a bit more). 

All photos taken at the delectable Lucy’s Tearoom in Stow-on-the-Wold, Cotswolds, England.