A Gardener’s Guide to the UK

Joel Smith, 2017 BBM Global Industry Scholar, collecting leaves from Monet’s lily pond.

There’s being a tourist, and then there’s being a travelling gardener.

See the top seven sites for horticulturists in the UK, brought to you by past BBM Global Industry Scholars.

1 – Chelsea Flower Show

Mingle with members of the Royal Family at England’s most prestigious annual garden show. The Royal Horticulture Society has been opening the gates to the Chelsea Flower Show since 1912, enchanting audiences from around the world. This show is place to see the latest innovations and trends in the horticultural world. But you better get in quick! Tickets must be purchased in advance as they are strictly limited number.

“I think my favourite thing was the care that went into creating the garden.” – Jessica Smith 2017 Scholar


2 – The Eden Project, Cornwall

Rising from the crater of an abandoned clay pit, the domes of The Eden Project house a global garden. Each enclosure within the two domes emulates a natural biome. The Rainforest Biome, to date the world’s largest greenhouse, houses tropical plants. Past South African and Californian plant communities you reach the citrus and olive trees of the Mediterranean Biome. Outside, a botanical garden has reclaimed the moonscape of the clay pit with plants growing well in the local climate. According to the local tourism website “Eden is a gateway into the relationships between plants and people, and a fascinating insight into the story of mankind’s dependence on plant life.

3 – Chelsea Physic Garden, Chelsea

Secluded behind its century old walls, lies London’s oldest botanical garden. The Chelsea Physic Garden was established in 1673 by the Worship Society of Apothecaries to grow medicinal plants and teach the public how to use them. The land is left to the garden as long as that remains its purpose. Today, the garden continues to hold a treasury of medicinal herbs, and visitors can study each plant in the herbarium.

“I found this garden entirely unique among everything I saw while travelling” – Jessica Smith 2017 Scholar


4 – Hidcote Manor Gardens, Cotswold

The National Trust property Hidcote once belonged to avid gardener and plant collector Lawrence Johnston. The garden has an English feel, and although the renowned Sissinghurst Castle Garden is more famous for its gardens rooms, at Hidcote exists a similar concept. The rooms each have their own theme, using box hedges, stone walls, topiaries, water features and flower beds giving each a distinct character. and other formal element. During Johnston’s life the garden would be opened to the public intermittently to raise funds for charities.  The garden contains plants from across the world, many now identified with Hidcote, including Hidcote Lavander and Hidcote Hypericum.

5 – Kew Gardens

Over 50,000 living plants across a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew are on any travelling gardeners bucket list. Established in 1840, Kew is home to the world’s largest Victorian glasshouse, which itself houses some of the world’s rarest and most endangered plants. Around the corner, the modern Davies Alpine House recreates the dry, cool, windy conditions of the alps. Kew Gardens is not only a spectacular garden with an incredible diversity of plants, but an internationally recognised botanical research and education institution. It’s herbarium is one of the largest in the world with over seven million preserved plant specimens.

“I could easily spend a month in the tropical nursery” – Tristan Krepp 2012 Scholar

6 – Down House, Kent

Step into Charles Darwin’s office. A site not to be missed for anyone who loves science, history or plants is Down House, the former home of Charles Darwin. It was in this particular house and garden that he worked on his theory of natural selection. The gardens were for Darwin both an outdoor laboratory and a place to ponder his theories. It was in the greenhouses that he made his ground-breaking discoveries about the reproductive behaviour of plants.

7 – The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall

“Heligan, seat of the Tremayne family for more than 400 years, is one of the most mysterious and romantic estates in England. A genuine secret garden, it was lost for decades; its history consigned to overgrowth.” Like a real life Secret Garden, the gardens of Heligan went untended and forgotten for several decades. In a chance find after a hurricane the gardens were rediscovered. Their restoration was the project of no other than Tim Smit who would years later become the founder of the Eden Project. The now restored gardens are like window into another time.

 “To see centuries of old gardening practices and the enthusiasm of the public, along with community involvement; was a fantastic experience.” – Caitlin Sawyer 2014 Scholar

How it works

What would you do if we paid you to go overseas to follow your passion, start your career and develop your vision for the future of your industry? Think about it!

A BBM Global Industry Scholarship is self-directed. You tell us what you would do and why we should send you. Your first step towards a BBM Scholarship is to share your goals and ideas. Fill in our Expression of Interest form and let us know where you would go and why, and what impact your global industry scholarship would have on your career and your industry in Australia.

Go on – share your vision!

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