At the RHS Hampton Court Flower show this week, destinations from Charleston to Galicia, Normandy to Peru, came alive in the gardens from around the world. Each was inspired by the plants and landscapes that make these little corners of a country unique and special. The show is on for a few more days, so do go along to see these and many other beautiful gardens to find some inspiration for your next holiday.
As I was visiting on the 4th July, celebrations were in full swing at the three USA gardens from Oregon, Charleston and Austin.
Landscapes of Austin
At the Austin garden, the strumming of singer songwriter Carson McHone took me straight back to our holiday in Texas a few years ago, remembering all the street performers playing in the bars and by the food trailers in Austin. The stone walling, beaten earth paths and and rusting metal bowl filled with water were just as I remembered, even in the smart hotel where we stayed on our trip to Texas.
I loved the soft swathes of grass that looked as if they were rustling in the breeze, mixed with the dusty reds and yellows of Echinacea and other wild flowers. The spiky Agave were there too, to remind us that Texas is tequila country and they mix a mean margarita in Austin.
Mountains and Vineyards of Oregon
In the Oregon garden it was all about the mountain landscape with rocky outcrops and mountain streams backed by pine forests (or as much of a forest as you can realistically transport and plant at a garden show). There were a few vines too to show that they are a wine growing region and at the front a naturalistic planting of daisies and grasses looking as if they might be growing in the border of some farmer’s field. To represent the many cycling routes around the state, the edge of the borders were decorated with bicycle wheels.
Hidden gardens of Charleston
Quite different to the naturalistic feel of the other USA gardens was the Charleston garden, which exhuded elegance and old world charm. Box hedges surrounded the manicured lawn with wrought iron benches to linger a while. The pink and white planting gave a romantic feel mixed with a few more tropical shrubs. It was just the sort of place you’d like to take iced tea with your grandmother and hear her reminisce about her days as a southern belle.
The Inca Garden with inspiration from Machu Picchu
The Inca civilisation of Peru that created awe-inspiring structures like Machu Picchu was the inspiration for a tropical garden sponsored by British Airways and Journey Latin America. From the outside we were met by a wall of native foliage with banana plants and sculptural leaves, but as we walked further into the garden, the carefully crafted dry stone terraces like those at Machu Picchu were revealed.
Water trickled down from the grassy terraces into pools that could be used for irrigation, with gardens of maize, potato and quinoa standing in well kept rows. The planting was spiky and exotic with variegated red and green planting mixed in with the yellow and orange astromeria. Perhaps if the explorer Hiram Bingham had been able to step back in time, this is what he would have seen of Machu Picchu when the Incas were at their full power, rather than the deserted remains of a lost civilisation that we think of today.
The Normandy 1066 Medieval Garden
To celebrate the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, the ‘Le Clos d’Hastings’ garden took on a medieval theme that reflected the garden plants and countryside from both sides of the channel in Normandy and the area around Hastings. The garden was divided diagonally into two parts with a woven hazel fence, the ends of the branches sprouting in places.
On one side of the fence was a field of crops waiting to be harvested; flax and wheat speckled with red popies and daisies. On the other side of the fence were garden plants in shades of white and purple, a rich mixture evoking the Bayeux tapestry. At the back of the plot, a green hedge was planted with saplings to represent the farming landscape of Normandy while at the front a couple of Norman soldiers were standing guard, quite happy to pose for photos!
From Galicia in Northern Spain – the Route of the Camelia garden
One of my favourites among the world gardens was the Route of the Camellia garden, sponsored by Turismo de Galicia. I visited northern Spain a few years ago on a family summer holiday and well remember the mixture of brilliant sunshine and showers that we had – there’s a good reason why it’s called ‘Green Spain’!
The garden celebrates the pilgrim’s route of Santiago de Compostela, which I’d love to hike some day, with the pilgrim’s symbol of scallop shells scattered on the path. Overhanging the romantic shrine to the Virgin Mary was a Camellia tree, frequently found in this part of Spain. Since the camellia flowers in the spring, designer Rose McMonigall had used pink coloured shells to represent the camelia petals that might drop onto the pilgrim’s path.
RHS Garden Holidays
If you’re a garden enthusiast, take a look at the RHS Garden Holidays, which are organised by the Royal Horticultural Society, offering tours of the world’s great gardens, accompanied by horticultural experts.
RHS Hampton Court Flower Show
The RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show takes place 5-10 July 2016 – visit the RHS website for more information on this and all the other RHS flower shows.
Thanks to RHS Hampton Court Flower Show who provided me with free entry to the show.
This article from Monica Adorno takes us to Galicia in Spain where she visited Santiago de Compostela for the Feast of St James, wandered around the old streets, visited the famous cathedral and ate some goose feet at the best restaurant in town.
Good history, good eating and great living; Spain is famous for doing these things and Galicia, with her fierce Gaelic heritage and her shire-like landscape, is no exception. Sometimes you visit a country or a region where there’s a palpable sense of identity; where the locals are inherently proud of their roots, and the feeling is contagious. If you’re lucky, something will click and you’ll connect with a place to which you had no previous ties. The region of Galicia, Spain, that sits at the north-west corner of the Iberian Peninsula, is one such place.
My boyfriend and I arrived in Santiago de Compostela last July. We arranged the holiday so that it coincided with the Festival of St James, celebrated each year on July 25. Last year the festival fell on a Sunday meaning that the dramatics and the exuberance were tripled. This doesn’t happen often and the next one, known as a Holy Year, is due in 2021. The festival was marked by an impressive fireworks display and other symbolic gestures. The local families who can be more reserved here than in other parts of Galicia were out enjoying the day’s activities and it was clear to see that it’s a fiesta that brings people together.
Santiago de Compostela is famous as a place of pilgrimage that millions have travelled to for over a thousand years to pray to the apostle St James whose remains, legend has it, were taken there for burial (Chaucer’s Wife of Bath made the trip). Neither the boyfriend nor I are particularly religious and like many others we made the trip to enjoy the magnificent Baroque and Romanesque architecture, the art, the history and the museums. The entire city is a World Heritage Site, which is a testament to its medieval beauty.
On our first day, having made no arrangements, we decided to spend the afternoon exploring the city. It would be a shame not to get lost in the maze of winding arcaded streets and granite buildings. We walked to the Old Quarter where the pièce de résistance is the magnificent cathedral. Described as the ‘Romanesque jewel within a Baroque case’ it looms impressively over the Praza do Obradoiro, flanked by giant bell towers. We went into the cathedral (entrance is free) and did a guided tour of Las Cubiertas, the cathedral roof. The guide took us through the upper floors of the cathedral interior and once on the roof, the boyfriend and I took in a panoramic view of the labyrinth below.
Back outside and feeling peckish we went in search of some tapas and strolling along la Rua Nova we came across Don Gaiferos, which locals and tourists describe as one of the best restaurants in the city, next to the Church of Santa Maria Salome. I ate estofado de carne, a delicious local stew, and the boyfriend, ever the adventurer, ordered the exotic sounding percebes which translates as goose barnacles. His plate arrived piled high with what looked like small dragon feet which he had to suck the meat out of. These claws don’t come cheap at 30€ for a small portion but they’re a local delicacy and worth buying if only to say you ate dragon feet (though that wouldn’t be strictly true).
Dining in Galicia can be pricey but the food is fresh and everything is so good that to deny yourself these pleasures is sheer madness. For a quick snack try the cheekily titled Queso de Tetilla which literally translates as cheese of small breast and are shaped like them too. The boyfriend, rather predictably, couldn’t resist bringing a bag home.
Author Bio: Monica Adorno is a snowsports writer living and working in London. She spent her university days hitch hiking across Central America and South East Asia. She plans to conquer Mount Everest and marry explorer Bruce Parry!
My thanks for this sponsored post to MyDestination Galicia, where you’ll find comprehensive information on all things Galicia
Photo Credits: Cathedral by bernavazqueze, other photos from MyDestination Galicia
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