Friday, 3 June 2011

Winter Gardens

Sunderland Winter Gardens
I recently took a stroll, not through the deep dark woods (for anyone who knows the Gruffalo story) but through the Winter Garden in Sunderland.   An amazing steel and glass structure with advanced technology enabling it to copy many of the different climate conditions found around the world. 
 
The Winter Garden creates the ideal growing conditions for a range of exotic plants and flowers to grow; the warm south facing side of the garden is home to the cactus and succulents, whilst the shade loving ferns thrive in the cooler north side of the garden.

Features in the garden include the tree top walk allowing visits to the garden to experience a rare bird’s eye view of the canopy where the tallest plants compete for sun light.


Centre stage in the garden is elegant water sculpture by the international acclaimed sculptor William Pye. The sculpture stands like a guardian over the garden and incorporates  a continues film of water flowing down a 10 metre high column of highly polished stainless steel to form rhythmical patterns, giving visitor to the garden a sense of coolness in what is a humid climate.  

Walking down the fern gully I am reminded that these ancient plants are similar to the plants that once where common across Britain and Europe 350 million years ago, before the age of the dinosaur.  Ferns do not flower and seed like other plants but, instead produce thousands of tiny spores, from which new plants later develop.


My enjoyable visit concluded at the Koi carp pond, which was a great attraction for children and grown-ups alike. I sat for a while eating my sandwich and drinking from my flask of tea next to the pond memorised by these colourful fish, some as long as your forearm as they gently glided through the shallow, rocky pool.

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