The Botanical Gardens held a Cake Fest for Midsummer, where local bakers got together and recreated the city in cake form. Like entry to the gardens themselves (except for a few parts of the greenhouses), entry to the festival was free, as were pieces of the finished cake which they handed out at around five in the afternoon. There was also live music and a small market selling locally produced jams, food and teas and which had activities for children (making modge podge cats was a thing apparently, I don’t ask the tiny people about their enthusiasms). My favorite was the stall Anteaques (an antique shop that serves tea and scones around the antiques) set up, where they brought in samples of those of their teas which were made from plants grown in the gardens and put up a map of where to find them, as I thought it was a brilliant way to connect the final tea to the whole process of growing and producing it.
The harp inside the pavilion is carved from a tree that had to be cut down due to Dutch Elm Disease.
The Gardens themselves are huge and made up of environments so different that its like moving between countries when you cross over from one to the next. We only spent time in a handful of them, starting with the Arboretum, an almost natural looking park filled with trees and which leads into the Alpines area. Some of the plants live outside but the one with the most specific environmental needs live in the Alpine House where the area is temperature and moisture controlled.
Hen and Chicks succulent.
For me my absolute favorite part of the gardens were the beds managed by the HND students, tucked behind the Hedge. I’m going to do a larger post on them later but here’s some pictures. The themes seemed largely to be sustainable and functionality, from poisonous plants to healing herbs.