Visit to Botanic Gardens 9th Jan 14

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    (Copied from U3A Homepage and written by Penny Thomas)

    Visit to National Botanical Garden

    In the last few weeks we have endured high winds, lashing rain, sleet and floods but today (9th January) twenty intrepid members of the gardening group together with four guests enjoyed a sunny, yes, sunny day at the National Botanical Gardens of Wales. There were those who shrugged and said “no thanks not in the winter” what a mistake, in the sunshine, one could feel the promise of spring in the air. It’s quite a hike from the entrance to the impressive dome but for those who undertook the stroll rather than take the option of a ride on a “golf buggy” we were rewarded by the sight of snowdrops which, despite the appalling weather conditions, were in flower and a few trees even showed signs of pink blossom, how that lifts the spirits! We wandered through the dome, it’s far too large to be called a greenhouse, where we found ourselves, according to the flora, in South Africa, California, Australia and the Mediterranean, many of the plants were in flower and, according to Diarmuid Gavin, the gardening expert, given the right kind of growing conditions, some of these would flourish in our own greenhouses, however, I think I’ll stick to tomatoes.

    The double walled garden was interesting, Brussel sprouts still providing a hearty crop (if you like that kind of vegetable) and lovely red Swiss chard how that brightens the veg patch on these dull winter days, must put those on my seed list. Local schools have their own allotment area the entrance is through an archway formed by models of giant carrots.

    The various plots were in a state of preparation for the coming season they even have a wormery on site and liquid feed made from comfrey leaves. Remember the wine bottles which edged a path in the garden of Caroline Box well keep your empty 1 litre plastic bottles and use them to construct a greenhouse! Obviously, our future gardeners are also looking after the planet. In addition to the dome, there is a tropical glasshouse, once you are able to demist your spectacles, what a sight awaits, orchids, and other exotic plants. I checked the pockets of the group to ensure no one was returning with a banana or two!

    It could be argued at this time of the year there is not the usual abundance of flowers but there is still plenty to see. I particularly loved the Apothecary Shop ah for yester year with the beautiful wooden rows of drawers each labelled and smelling strongly of their contents, remember when your mum rubbed your chest with camphorated oil how those memories came flooding back!  All in all we had a lovely day isn’t this the reason for a U3A?

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