Last weekend I was in the south west of Britain visiting some of Devon and Cornwall’s finest gardens. On Friday It was Bicton Park, a botanical garden with its roots in the early 1700s and which today houses many rare plants from around the world.
The famous Italian garden was one of the first parts of Bicton Park to be developed as an ornamental area.
Based on the Italian Renaissance style, the garden is reputed to have been based on a design by the French gardener Andre Le Notre (1613-1700).
Shell collecting was popular in Victorian England. This shell house was built in the 1840s to house an extensive collection of shells from around the world.
The shell house at Bicton is set within a rock garden
The Mediterranean Garden is a more recent addition, displaying a wide range of drought-tolerant plants which hail from Mediterranean-type climates around the world.
The Arid House was landscaped in 2002 to display Bicton’s large collection of Cacti and other succulents.
Bicton’s Palm House is one of the earliest surviving curved iron glasshouses and is the second largest of its kind in Britain.
Built sometime between 1825-30, the Palm House is some 20 years older than the one at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Planting in the Palm House in nearly sky-high!
Bicton Park Botanical Gardens is renowned for its conifer collection, displayed in the extensive Pinetum.
Tallest of all of the trees grown here is Abies cephalonica (the Grecian fir) – a whopping 41m tall and 4.02m in girth!
Just next door to Bicton Park Botanical Gardens is Bicton College where the famous Monkey Puzzle Avenue can be found. The monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana) became immediately popular on its introduction from Chile in the 19th century. Bicton’s Monkey Puzzle Avenue was planted by head gardener James Bames in 1844 under the direction of James Veitch of the Veitch Nursery – at 500m long and with a total of 50 trees, the avenue is the longest of its type in Europe.