If you don’t know what you’re looking for in gardens you can miss out on the history and big events. After reading this article you will be better served to enjoy your next visit to a green space. The world has nearly half a million plant species and many of these are used for practical needs in surprising ways. Here’s exactly what you need to know about making the most of viewing a garden.
The first mistake walkers make during a garden trip is to look out for the wrong type of wildlife. Native animals can be hard to spot with wild flowers being weeded out so let bright tall flowers point you to local wildlife. With the European bee facing possible extinction with colonies facing collapse, look out for gardens with areas cultivated to offer habitats to at risk creatures. Ruby glow plants and the Geranium ‘Rozanne’ help bees to forage, but not many people know that plants can lead you to them.
One of the chief obstacles to finding astonishing sights in a garden is the fear of missing out on the most popular flowers that are in bloom. Creatures who have made the area home, like white butterflies, will draw attention to the freshest flowers and the petals with strongest scent when they flock there to cause pollination. Following their lead can take you to the site of extraordinary blossoms.
The layout of large gardens can deter some visitors from discovering the power of plants. Plain looking flax can be over looked underfoot but has the flexibility of cotton and is strong enough to be used in house building. It is worth looking down as well as up to find the treasure in a garden. Some of the astounding properties of plants are also missed by most visitors of public gardens due to a lack of knowledge of varieties grown further afield. Spines of the prickly cactus were once used as needles in early gramophones. These non-native species often grow best near the shelter of walls or tall trees and are therefore often placed away from the main path.
The extraordinary properties of plants are worth investigating and the power of the popular blooms in the centre of the garden may be surprising without some cultural background. The colours of flowers are known to fade fast and so many people are unacquainted to the permanent dyes that have left a long lasting mark in world culture. The Hunt of the Unicorn tapestry (1495-1505) for example is dyed with plant pigments. The yellow ‘weld’ and red ‘madder’ plants have both kept the colour fast on the tapestry to this day. Inside your favourite garden, look out for Dyer’s chamomile, Pot marigold, woad and Dyer’s woodruff to discover hues that have stayed a long length of time in works of art held in many museums.
The majority of visitors are guided by the scents of plants and do not realize in enjoying this they are now part of a larger cosmopolitan tribe. Plants play a transformation role to modern cuisine in our aspirational environment. Colourful, tasty drinks can be made with herbs and petals grown right out of planters to make drinks taste fresh and fashionable according to the latest recipe.
Now you know where to look for more interesting stories about plants you can craft your own personal tour of gardens. You have read how insects can guide you towards seasonal beauty, walls often shelter plants with superhero properties and scented herbs link to the forward thinking world of ever-evolving aspirational recipes. Using this information, start searching out the plants with the biggest stories to tell; so get out there and enjoy or at least let these tips guide you in a safe manner to new discoveries.
As a next step cast your net further afield and find out more about the history of Southern Hemisphere plants and get the most from your visits to botanic garden abroad with this handy guide