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Beautiful Boxing Day 2008 - Winter warmer


What a gorgeous day it has been today, a bit of a bitter easterly which kept things dry, but the sun was warming. the invite for mince pies and mulled wine in aid of a local hospice at the cafe of the beach next to the botanical gardens in Ventnor Isle of Wight was too good to turn down.

After we were suitably warmed and fed on the mince pies and hot mulled wine, we climbed back up the steep hill and back into the botanical gardens. This time armed with my camera I am able to share some of the beautiful plants that were growing and flowering on boxing day this year.

These photos are of a plant which is a total mystery to me (I have posted a question to see if anyone can identify it for me). It has really ‘grown on me’ and as I walked past I saw a small branch on the floor which I have brought home to see if I can strike a cutting! I have since found out it is Sparmania africana thanks to the answer to my question by GoY member Janey. The cutting I found was waiting to be potted up in some water and my husbands cat found it and chewed it to death. I have since found out the plant is poisonous so………………………………watch this space. The bloody cat has chewed my bromeliads plus the flower spikes and my princess tree which had lovely purple buds appearing on it!!!

I think this is a Puya

This is one of the main walks leading from the coastal path into the gardens and a patch of echiums, I think in their first year. These Echiums (Pininana) are biennials and take 2 years to flower, then they drop their seeds and die.

A camelia in full bloom

This is the Australia Garden – mostly tree ferns, but there are plenty of other splendid plants


Leptospernum Cardwell

Then it was on to the New Zealand Garden which is where I got some of my inspiration for my front garden. This is a picture of some new shoots appearing on this plant. It is Astelia nervosa chathamica thanks to Bonkersbon and Spritzhenry for the id. It can be used as an alternative to Phormium.

These are Pseudopanax ferox, odd looking plants, but very striking, I have 3 in my garden, not that big!!

The other name for Pseudopanax ferox is the lancewood tree.

Phormium Tenax Tricolour.
I used several of these to form a hedge in my ‘small’ front garden. Only to learn that the Tenax variety of Phormium grows to 6 × 6ft! I learned, after planting the tenax that I actually needed cookianum which only grows to about 3ft. This is how we all learn isn’t it!!

This strange looking thing in the New Zealand garden was named as Oryzepsis Leesoniana, but I think a label may have got mixed up or the grass it should have been naming had died down.

Cycad or Sago palm, growing happily

Snap dragon

Seneca Grandiflorus – African plant. It has grown as if it has been made into a standard, but it is probably because the lower foliage has died back and dropped off.

A Brugmansia Suevolens. This was in full bloom a couple of weeks ago, but I suppose the recent frosts have put pay to that!! However……………

New growth from below

The Sub-Tropical Palm Garden

Abutillon – Not too sure of the variety

The cafe, library and museum

Through to the Mediteranean Garden

This little gem was flowering its heart out – sorry, don’t know what it is

more Echium Pininana – these look like they will flower this year

A Salvia

A Canary Palm – you can get these at B&Q, jusgt bear in mind they can get this big before you plant one in your garden!!!

This is one of my favourite plants, originating from the hottest parts of the Mediteranean – isoplexis canariensis

It has gorgeous orange spike shaped flower heads

I look at these pictures and at the plants which grow here and I think I am not in the UK, but another country

Aeonium, happily growing in the rocks

Nerine Oleander – a beautiful specimen

A beautiful pine/fir/spruce – I don’t know what this is, if anyone can help that would be great.

A nice entrance/exit to another part of the garden shaded by Acacia delbata

Another gorgeous coniferous tree which needs an id. Thanks to Janey, Alexandre552 and Bluespruce it has been identified as Araucaria heterophylla – Norfolk Island pine


This is the cactus garden, I have tried to name a few, but some of the labels were behind pieces of plant and with hairs, spikes, etc, i didn’t fancy moving them to get a look!!

Euphorbia Pentagona. I couldn’t believe this was a euphorbia

Mother of Pearl Plant – Graplopetalum Paraguayense from Mexico

A flowering aloe

Penetemon interplanted with a beautiful grey foliage plant

Correa reflexa

Correa reflexa – close up of flowers

Winter Heliotrope (Petasites fragrans)

What a great day it has been, it certainly doesn’t look like a day at the end of December in the UK. My husband told me that he had sent for a life time membership for a Christmas present for me – what a star..
I hope you have enjoyed looking at my blog, something to cheer us all up…..

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Stunning pics, Andrea! Are you sure you moved to within the UK, and not to "Paradise"? This is so different to our heavily frosted neighbourhood (not quite a "White Christmas"). Hope the move was, and everything in 2009 will be, "plain sailing") !! - Gr8 pressy, too!

26 Dec, 2008


~fantastic the difference the latitude makes~you are lucky! and what a present!

26 Dec, 2008


It looks so tropical! Wonderful set of photos.

26 Dec, 2008


Arlene, this is only about 60 miles South of your neck of the woods. It just goes to show how diverse the climates are in this country.

26 Dec, 2008


Just imagine having this on your doorstep.....wonderful Andrea...and gorgeous photos....really enjoyed the whole trip round....thank you.

26 Dec, 2008


Fabulous photos enjoyed the trip...

26 Dec, 2008


You must have had a lovely day. Much better than going around the shops.

27 Dec, 2008


Andrea, nice blog and photos, not too sure of the pine species in the first photo - closer look at needles cones and or bark is always helpful. The second conifer pictured is Araucaria herterophllla (Norfolk Island Pine) surprised to see this growing, even on the Isle of Wight, I doubt it would survive a harsh winter.

27 Dec, 2008


Hi Blue, thank you for the plant id on the Norfolk Island Pine. You say it shouldn't survive a harsh winter even in the IOW. You would be surprised, Ventnor is renound for its sub-tropical climate and if you look at some of the other things flowering and budding away then I'm pretty sure the Norfolk Island Pine will be fine and it has been growing in that spot for a few years now. If you ever get the opportunity you should pay it a visit, you will love it x

27 Dec, 2008


Thanks for a really lovely blog with fantastic photos. :o)

27 Dec, 2008


Sorry Andrea, not convinced, the plant in the photo is a fairly young tree and as yet has not had to cope with anything too extreme, I realize the micro climate at Ventnor is very favourable to all things sub-tropical, but if we were ever to get a another winter approaching say like the 86-87 one ( and I think we will sooner rather than later) many of the plants will perish as they did before in the gardens that particular year - still love the blog though Andrea :o)

27 Dec, 2008


I will keep my fingers crossed that it doesn't get as cold as it did in 86-87. I was living on the Island in Ventnor then and I don't remember too much devastation ( not that I was really into that much gardening between the ages of 16 - 17, more drinking and I used to go down to the Garden Tavern when the Botanics had a pub, and remember sitting outside on the courtyard area by the pond), the cordyline in our garden did lose all of its leaves and my mum thought it was a gonner but it did pick itself back up. I am planning on doing some voluntary work at the gardens now I am a lifetime member (thank you Jed) and I will ask the curator who was at Kew what he thinks about the Norfolk Island Pine? I'll let you know what he says..........Thanks for the wonderful interest in my blog, I hope it cheered everyone up. It is really hard to believe that the photos were all taken yesterday!

27 Dec, 2008


What a lovely way to spend a day - looks as tropical as Tresco. Sounds as if you will be spending a lot more time there in the future, I look forward to more blogs in time.

27 Dec, 2008


Definitely a tropical feel. A great place to visit and meander around. That looked like my Correa in there - you called it 'Maritime Ceanothus', though.

27 Dec, 2008


Thanks Spritz. I am never too sure of some of the labelling at the gardens, I know that when I am volunteering I will bring up the fact that the labelling of plants needs addressing. I have googled Maritimus Ceanothus and it is definitely not what I have said it is. It looks like 'Correa reflexa'. I'll let them know!!

27 Dec, 2008


Wow! Great blog Andrea. Lovely photographs. It all looks lovely with the sun shining and the tropical type plants. Wish I was there instead of here with all the snow.

28 Dec, 2008


What a great place Andrea, you are so lucky, what a lovely hubby! i should imagine that you would be in your element, very tropical and i know how you love this look, i did'nt realise that so many of these plants could grow in the UK. look forward to seeing some of your cuttings/seedlings that you will no doubt be taking lol. interesting read, and lovely pic's, really enjoyed this blog, thanks Andrea.

28 Dec, 2008


Hi Andrea, most interesting blog and really great photos, you have now inspired me to visit Ventnor again (went nearly 40 years ago!!) wasnt into gardening then.
We have been living on The Solent opposite I.O.W. nearly 9 years and not been over yet, except for the fireworks.........we were on the water then.
I hope we do not have a severe winter, its very cold today hard frost (Sunday 28th) as we grow many tropical plants.
Thanks again for the blog.

28 Dec, 2008


Well, now I have gone for a walk with you through a beautiful area full of wonderful plants and such a variety. A few of them I actually am familiar with (duh! like the cactus, maybe?) but not most of them. I love all the various textures and shades of green. Lovely. We will have to do it again, sometime...Thanks for sharing.

30 Dec, 2008

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