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Sunday, 29 July 2012

Lullingstone Trip.

This is our round up of our trip out to the World Garden in Lullingstone, Kent.  Noted for its castle and roman villa as well as the world garden, Lullingstone is one of the nicer parts of Kent, along with Eynsford and its duck house, and Swanley which you could get to by bus from Plumstead common when I was little.

It was proposed at our last club meeting that there would be a trip out to Lullingstone to see the world garden and the grounds.  We put our details down and hoped that there would be a pick up, as you see, I can't drive and have no inclination to do so. 

Cut to Friday and there are still no word on pick up and just a date and a sense of foreboding.  We called up our branch Secretary Jim and after a muted discussion he said to come down to his place in Eltham and he'll take us down.  So we did just that, and managed to get there in time for pick up.  He offered for me to look around his collection and led us down to a lean to on the back of his house.  Every conceiveable surface was stuffed with cacti and succulents of varying degrees of tenderness and rarity, to say it was jaw dropping would be an understatement, these plants were all in perfect condition and of exceptional size.  There was a small greenhouse leading off of this, that made me feel like I was stuffed in a box, so cramped with plants and staging.  For a cactophile it was the closest thing to heaven on earth save for a trip to the Richtersveld.

Anyway we picked up a few more people and gradually made our way down to Lullingstone passed the now covered over Roman ruins and down alongside a stream to the main gatehouse.  After meeting up with the rest of our club we waited for Tom, to lead us inside.

Cloud Garden, pond area, complete with Bulrushes and smoke
Tom is of course Tom Hart Dyke, noted botanist, creator of the world garden, and the twentieth generation of Hart Dyke to live on site.  Possibly the only person where passionate is entirely accurate when describing his love of plants, he's got a manic enthusiasm that will inspire anyone to get growing.   I'm not sure how he and Jim met but he's given some talks to us down at Eltham as well as Jim donating a lot of plants to the Hot and Spikey cactus house more of which later.

Our first stop was the Cloud Garden, a polytunnel area devoted to half hardy jungle planting, complete with small water area and goldfish.  It was all lush and overgrown just like a real jungle.
Eucalyptus, already reaching for the stars.

Our next area, was a small storage area meant to keep tender stuff in over the winter (unlike London with its warmth of the bricks Lullingstone acutally lies in a frost pocket, which is problematic if you grow tender tropical species.).  That half hardy red gum is a permanent visitor along with some more bizarre and obscure specimens from australasia, and is currently in dire need of a good clipping to stop it going through the roof.

We did a brief tour of the world garden before moving onto the Hot and Spikey greenhouse.  This also contains the Moroccan room at the end by the Volcano (which works by remote control). 
A selection Succulent flora.

Its divided into three areas the first part being South Africa (with parts of East Africa thrown in for good measure).  Devoted to mesembryanthemums and Stapeliads along with some of the more amenable Euphorbias.
Opuntia Invicta in bud.

The middle part is Mexico which is largely all cacti and included some flowering Opuntias which is a rare bonus in this country as they are often reluctant to flower.  The back wall has a mural painted on it and holds both south and north american cacti collections.   These are mainly large cerei and bunny ear style Prickly pear Opuntias. The final bed is of course Macronesia.  Devoted to the mainly Canarian flora and with some from Madeira and Cape Verde Islands, these are mainly Aeonium species but with other stuff as well including a new Sarcostemma.
Morocco garden with Hippeastrum in the foreground.
The Morocccan garden is devoted to bulbs with various lillies and Amaryllis types in flower and a decent morning glory which you can see in the left of the picture above.

You finally exit to the gift shop with plants for sale and our notice board detailling our society and its aims. Though this is a major bone of contention with Jim and Tom.  We got an Aeonium Zwartkopf to replace an old specimen that died ages ago.  Tom also pointed out a massive specimen which had flowered and had thrown up offsets on the inflorescence of the newly doomed plant (Aeoniums along with Agave are terminal flowerers, they'll go out in a blaze of glory) which we didn't know it did.

Beaky's return.
We snuck a peek into some other greenhouses and saw some other plants lying around including more Opuntias and a nice Pleiospilos with seed pods.  We took in the world garden with its metal baobab and noted the sheer number of Damselflies flying around including a mating pair.  Before making our way home.
This was the best Damselfly we saw but there were loads around.
We'll leave you with a few more shots of the world garden to go out with.

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