Magnolia in the Royal Crescent, Bath

I went on a day trip to Bath this weekend. The weather was bloody awful – torrential rain and strong winds. It wasn’t the weather for spotting inspirational planting ideas, more for taking refuge in tea shops. But this magnolia, trained against a wall of a basement flat in the Royal Crescent, stood out, even through a steamed-up car window.

Now that I’m back in London, there are magnolias everywhere. It seems that all they needed was one warm day, and whoosh! They’re off. At last.

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Bath Botanic Garden


I lived in Bath for three years when I was a student, and never knew it had a Botanic Garden. I wasn’t interested in gardening then – at the time the University offered a BSc in Horticulture and I used to think that all the glasshouses looked a bit boring. Mind you, I thought the boffins in labs tapping away at something called the ‘World Wide Web’ looked a bit boring, too. Thank heavens I didn’t embark on a career as a trend forecaster.

Anyway, I’m not a huge fan of botanic gardens as I’m not that interested in plant collections as such – more how plants are put together. But Bath Botanic Garden was set up (over 100 years ago) with the aim of being an attractive garden with botanical interest, rather than a garden that is purely of botanical interest. So it has an interesting layout and lots of nice features such as a scented walk and some surprisingly contemporary herbaceous borders.

Apparently it looks its best in spring but it was looking pretty good at dusk on an October day. The borders were still looking good and there was lots of autumn colour, berries and grasses, plus some amazing scents from the likes of a huge Abelia x grandiflora.