Cambridge Botanic Garden revisited

Last year I wrote a post about the Winter Garden at Cambridge Botanic Garden. I won’t repeat myself here, but I would like to show you some things which caught my eye last week. First, a wonderful winter -flowering tree which wasn’t in bloom last January. It is new to me Prunus mume ‘Omoi-Noi-Mama’.

Prunus mume 'Omoi-No-Mama'

Prunus mume ‘Omoi-no-mama’

It is a white form of the wonderful Japanese Apricot, Prunus mume. I have had the deep pink Prunus mume ‘Beni-Chidori’ in flower for some time now and it is gorgeous. I shall certainly be looking out for this  white one.
I don’t like copying other peoples’ planting combinations, as I much prefer to design my own, but I think this combination just can’t be improved upon.
IMG_0087
The lovely red stems of Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’ are set off to perfection by the glossy red leaves of Bergenia ‘Bressingham Ruby’ and behind there is a mass of  the apple green flowers of Helleborus foetidus.
I love the idea of planting snowdrops amongst this Bergenia too.
IMG_0082
In another part of the garden was this  Muehlenbeckia astonii. I thought it would be a fantastic addition to the winter garden.

Muehlenbeckia astonii

Muehlenbeckia astonii

This amazing plant which comes from New Zealand looks like copper wire netting.

The Botanic Garden has a National Collection of species tulips so I was interested to go and see the Alpine section of the large glass houses.
I loved the pot of tiny Tulipa dasystemon.

Tulipa dasystemon

Tulipa dasystemon

I love any sort of Primula and the ones here were so pretty.


I know I can’t grow these little jewels but I wish I had the time to devote to them.
Dionysias need special care too,  but they are so beautiful, I wanted to caress this one.

Dionysia tapetodes

Dionysia tapetodes

I wonder if Saxifragas are any easier to grow. I would love to try growing some alpines in my second, unheated greenhouse which just houses an apricot tree, a grape vine, Dahlia imperialis and numerous Agapanthus babies at the moment. I suppose it could be the beginning of another expensive obsession though. But look at these dear little saxifrages.


It would lovely to be able to grow this high -alpine buttercup Ranunculus calandrinoides.

Ranunculus calandriniodes

Ranunculus calandriniodes

And how about a carpet of Gymnospermum allenii? In his book ‘Buried Treasure’ Janis Ruskins says he has a mass of these growing outside in the sun.
I have the Widow Iris, Hermodactylus tuuberosus but mine is rather a dingy thing. I love the deep purple  contrasted with  lilac of this one.
The Bongardia chrysogonum is quite new to me. I looked it up and saw that it’s common name is ‘Ladies Night Cap’. How can something so rare have a common name? And how rude to treat something so rare and beautiful with such familiarity. It’s a bit like calling the Queen, Lizzy.


I once tried growing the intensely blue Tecophilaea and failed miserably. Here they have no such trouble.


When I win the lottery,(the big win) I shall have a glass house bigger than this one. Maybe one like the Palm House at Kew. I shall grow lots of Birds of Paradise, Strelitza reginae and the wonderful Queen’s Wreath, Petrea volubilis. And this red pompom which didn’t have label. And I must have a Jade Vine, Strongylodon macrobotrys which has the most amazing electric turquoise flowers. Unfortunately  it wasn’t out yet but it is the most amazing plant.


Come to think of it; something like the Glasshouse at Cambridge would probably do nicely. I mustn’t be greedy. It covers almost an acre and has more than 2000 species of plants. Anything bigger would perhaps be a tad excessive. Now then where’s my lottery ticket?

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46 Responses to Cambridge Botanic Garden revisited

  1. I told my husband justt yesterday: “If I were to win the lottery, I’d have a big conservatory and a huge verandah… and I guess I’d buy a house to go with it too.”
    So I understand your dream here. As for the blue flower — what do they feed it to get that blue? And how did yours fail? In achieving that colour or just a failure to thrive?

  2. Jane Strong says:

    The Cornus and the Bergenia make a brilliant combination. I love it!

  3. Alison says:

    I copy combinations from everyone and everywhere. I have no imagination. They have some fabulous plants there, thanks for sharing them.

  4. pbmgarden says:

    I really enjoyed the focus on these plants today. Reading along I just kept saying, “Oh, yes!” I just saw Saxifraga in bloom at a garden store yesterday, but was unfamiliar with it so didn’t bring any home until I could research it. Looked similar to the Saxifraga ‘Burseriana’ you’ve shown and it was lovely.

  5. Several of these plants are new to me. But I love any plant that’s soft and fuzzy. I love those saxifragias and that dionysia. As for glasshouses, a gardener can dream!

  6. jenhumm116 says:

    So many treasures, thanks for sharing. I’d love to visit.
    Funnily enough, my daughter’s going to Cambridge tomorrow to visit her boyfriend, but when I suggested she really should visit the Botanic Garden she seemed less than enthusiastic. Maybe in 10 (20?) years’ time the response will be different? Here’s hoping 😉

    • Chloris says:

      Once she has her own garden I bet she will get keen. My daughter is now as gardening mad as I am but she didn’t show much interest when she was young.

  7. AnnetteM says:

    Lovely plants you have shared with us today. I love the prunus and hope to ‘bag’ some equally beautiful ones when we are in Japan next. I discovered a botanic gardens last time we were there with many different prunus growing, but it was the wrong season for the blossom. My other favourite is Ranunculus calandriniodes, but I guess I would need a greenhouse for that.

    • Chloris says:

      How wonderful, it is my dream to go to Japan at Cherry blossom time. A friend who lived there told me that my dark pink one:’ Beni- chidori’ means flight of butterflies. I would love to know what ‘ Omoi- noi- mama’ means.

  8. rusty duck says:

    Loving Gymnospermum allenii.
    Mike and I were talking about ‘proper’ glasshouses today too and then, in the short term, mouse proofing our existing greenhouse. If I can’t grow bulbs and these delicate alpines in the ground I’m planning on starting a collection in pots. It’s definitely the start of an obsession, but an investment I can take with me if or when we move.

    • Thanks for sharing this. That Prumus mume is indeed very charming, and I love the Galanthus/Bergenia combination.

    • Chloris says:

      I think that is an excellent idea. With your wildlife problems a greenhouse full of treasures would be great. I don’ t know how you managed to grow that beautiful Fritillaria nigra, frits are usually irresistible to pheasants. They love to bite their heads off. Just for fun.

  9. I think you will need a staff with that new greenhouse. The Copper Wire Plant from New Zealand is fantastic.

  10. Sorry you can’t win this time as I have the winning ticket!? Anyway thank you for those images of Cambs botanic. Stunning shots and I too especially love the edging of Bergenia and stinking hellebore with the cornus. Perfection.

    • Chloris says:

      So that’ s why we didn’ t win. Well I hope you are going to build a palm house with your winnings and invite all your blogging friends to come to tea in it.

  11. mattb325 says:

    All such wonderful plants! I love the saxifrages, and hope to find some one day for my garden (the grow quite well in my climate). The Muehlenbeckia looks great – a similar type to M. astonii ( M. complexa, although M. astonii will work as well) can be trained over wire fences and is dense enough to look like a hedge or trained through wire sculptures to make topiary shapes. The Primulas and Tecophilaea from the alpine house are just stunning – thanks for sharing the pictures!

  12. Cathy says:

    You’re right, the Cornus and Bergenia combination is really effective, especially with snowdrops dotted between the Bergenia leaves. I liked the look of the Muhlenbeckia so looked it up and it is actually called wire bush in German. So then I looked up the New zealand name and it’s called Wiggy Wig Bush! Love the Dionysia too. Good luck with the lottery draw…. 😉

    • Chloris says:

      Wiggy Wig Bush! I love it, what a fabulous name for it. It is a gorgeous thing. I wonder what colour it is in Summer. I suppose the lovely coppery bronze is its Winter outfit.

  13. Brian Skeys says:

    Every time I see the Berginia ‘Bressingham Ruby’ I think I really should find a place for it in the garden. I just haven’t seen it in the nurseries around here.

  14. Tina says:

    Thanks for the tour. So many interesting plants. LIke you, I love that Muhlenbeckia–such a great plant for structure.

  15. Peter/Outlaw says:

    Oh my, that Bergenia/Cornus combination is stunning! A glass house with an acre of space would do nicely!

  16. Julie says:

    Good luck with your lottery ticket Chloris – although it sounds to me like you would fill that acre in a heartbeat! I love that combination of cornus, bergenia and snowdrops – one we might both copy I think.

  17. snowbird says:

    So many heavenly plants here….I loved the Tulipa dasystemon. I am really fond of alpines too. Oh go for it, a girl must have an obsession, the beauty is we can all enjoy it on yor behalf without putting our hand’s in our pockets!
    Now I do hope you bought a ticket or two…can I be your little helper?xxx

  18. Chloris says:

    I already have too many plant obsessions.
    No luck with the lottery. I let the Pianist choose the numbers but he has no talent for it whatsoever. Apart from 4 years ago when he won £10. But what is the use of that? Not even enough for a cloche.

  19. Thanks for the tour! I’ve always been amazed (like everyone else, I guess) by the beauty of Bird of Paradise. That Cornus/Bergenia/Helleborus combination is fabulous–no wonderf so many people arrange those plants together. Oh, yes, the Palm House at Kew would be wonderful to have in one’s backyard! 😉

  20. Christina says:

    I think Cambridge botanic garden is undervalued as a place to go for inspiration but I’ve always found it wonderful, especially in winter; I hope to visit again this year, thanks for the reminder!

  21. Julie says:

    I am planning to take my mum for a visit here in a few weeks time, so really glad you put up your post, we will have so much to look forward too, lovely details as always too.

  22. Flighty says:

    A most enjoyable, interesting post and wonderful pictures. Your last paragraph made me smile. I’ve been there once a long time ago and always wanted to go back. xx

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