24 September 2011

Obscure Gardens: Kew At Wakehurst

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

Call me crazy
but I had been DYING to visit 
the Wakehurst Millennium Seed Bank for over a year,
located near Gatwick Airport in West Sussex

It is a joint venture with Kew Royal Botanic Gardens (their 'country garden')
and National Trust's most visited property, Wakehurst Place

I had no idea what to expect
but I was a happy little bee with what I saw 
(and I only had time to see half of it)

- woodlands, heath, bogs, lakes, walled gardens, Elizabethan house, and 'THE' Seed Bank -

Yep, that's cyclamen

Wakehurst is home to an EXTRAORDINARY collection of flora
from the remotest corners of the world

I have never seen such an extensive living collection of rare and endangered species
and so beautifully landscaped

It was a FEAST for my little floral heart
{ pitter patter }

Such a revolutionary idea:

The Millennium Seed Bank safeguards almost 2 billion seeds
from more than 30,000 species of wild plants from 140 countries -
often bearers of the world's food supply, medicine, shelter, and livelihoods

So far, they have successfully collected 10 percent of the world's plant species
They target to conserve a quarter of the world's plant species by 2020

After local collection and transportation to the MSB,
seeds are classified, dried, and then x-rayed to make sure they have the most viable seeds

Storage may be in freezer vaults of -20 degrees Celsius
or cryogenically preserved in liquid nitrogen at a mere -196 degrees Celsius

Germination experiments determine the best way to store and bring seeds to life
And seeds are often stored in their local country as well for safekeeping

You can actually see in the windowed labs

This is definitely a working garden and laboratory with people busy working in front and behind the scenes

Wakehurst not only stores seeds but also cultivates & plants them on the grounds

Visitors can browse one of the nurseries

And like a plant explorer, I had my own dangers...

I had to cover my head while taking this photograph,
for the old oak tree above me was 'raining' acorns like hail
(it happened earlier while driving too, in fear of breaking a windshield)

A working garden

Not surprisingly, they also conduct honeybee research here

Can you see the beehive behind the beautiful, living willow screen? 


As there are reminders of WWII dotted throughout England,
this sign shows a wartime subterranean communication room under my feet

The tree has an odd looking line in it - 
this is a wire from the communication center

WWII 'Wartime Secret'

And I just had to throw in a few photos of the Elizabethan Home

Benches are strategically placed throughout Wakehurst for reading, resting, and bored husbands :)

Nothing more to say but
Ahhh... Total Gardening Bliss

More information: National Trust, Kew Wakehurst

More 'Obscure Garden' posts: The World Garden Of Plants & Tom Hart Dyke

Linking with: Sweet Shot Tuesday

- all photos by me -



Belinda @ Wild Acre said...

OMG. This is one of my favourite posts from anywhere all year!! Amazing photos - some I wish I could dive into! - of a place I have longed to visit for a while. What an incredible garden, house and endeavour. Thank you so much for sharing, a lovely start to my weekend! Bxx

topchelseagirl said...

Who could get bored there?!? Delightful photos as always. Thanks for taking us along with you.

Sunray Gardens said...

That place is gorgeous and does good work too obviously. What a joy it must have been seeing it in person.
Cher Sunray Gardens

Jane said...

Such an intriguing post, Laura. Well done, my friend. And kudos to the clever souls who work there. J x

Wendy said...

I am so jealous, I want to go too...Absolutely gorgeous, thanks for sharing this place with us! Love that second photo with the cyclamen in it, love the point of view and the beautiful flowers, trees and scenery!

Danielle said...

I, too, love the second photo with the cyclamen. Thanks so much for sharing this beautiful place with us! I get so excited whenever I see that you've posted on a garden...the pictures are always breathtaking!

Sherri B. said...

This was the most fascinating post and informative. I had no idea about the seed collections being done in the UK, I had heard that we are doing something like it in the States. Thanks for taking the time to share.

Gail Dixon (Louisiana Belle) said...

Beautiful images. Fascinating work!

Butterbean Row said...

I am jealous! I want to be there right now. LOL
It is just so beautiful ....the colors so rich and pretty. Thanks for sharing!

Ola said...

the first 3 pictures are stunning, what a colorful place! attention paid to every detail

A Tale of Two Cities said...

I loved my visit to Wakehurst, but I didn't make it to the Seed Bank that day. I'll definitely have to make a return trip!

Pet said...

Oh, England is the paradise of gardens! We'll be in London the first week of October, but I don't know how to fit a nice one (what would you suggest?)on a busy sightseeing schedule - Covent Garden+, the Tower, Greenwich, National Gallery, Chelsea&Fulham's streets and markets. I have plan one of the days around Richmond Common and Richmond Park though.
This one happens to be my last Post. I don't know if you had seen it?

Egretta Wells blog said...

As an artist, I am completely carried away with this post! I want to go there and paint! How lovely it is.

elaine said...

What a beautiful place - I've never heard of it before - such a lovely garden, even at this time of year.

Emily said...


ann said...

Absolutely amazing. Beautiful pictures of the gardens and very interesting information on the seed bank.

loveandlilac said...

This is now on my list of places to visit. Wonderful photos. I could just see the last one with the bench on a greetings card! xx

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

I love visiting your blog as you transport me back to things I actually like about the UK like Hedgerows, (great post)and Wakehurst. We used to love going there so these photos were a real delight.

Cathy at PotterJotter said...

Wow - I never knew this place existed but it sounds really fascinating and obviously a worthwhile thing to do.

Privet and Holly said...

So beautiful;
a veritable
Noah's Ark for
flora : ) !!
The Elizabethan
house looked
right out of
a fairy tale.
xx Suzanne

Genie -- Paris and Beyond said...

Those gardens are just about the most "painterly" that I have ever seen. They look like they are from a museum! I loved the screen for the bees and will be posting about some Paris bees that I found soon.

Your photos are stunning.


lisaroyhandbags said...

You take us on the most amazing tours. This place is like a fairy tale :)

linda@adventuresinexpatland.com said...

Love stopping by and getting my fix of gorgeous gardens. I may not have a green thumb, but I do have a 'green appreciation' for such beauty. Outstanding!

Barbara said...

As always your pictures are beautiful! I love the line about the bored husband, that would so be mine!

Jennifer said...

Absolutely beautiful! Thank you for sharing!

flowers on my table said...

Laura you really are good at weeding out the very best places to visit. I am so impressed.The place looks amazing, so pretty and lovely as well as fascinating. Thankyou very much for sharing. It made me smile when I saw the willow fence, as we have one that my husband planted, but it isn't anywhere near as neat as that one, still, we like it! Have a lovely week, Linda x

~Gardener on Sherlock Street said...

What great spaces. Thank you for sharing them.

Ida said...

Wow what beautiful gardens and photo's. Very interesting post/information on the Seed Plant. This is what is so cool about photography and blogs. You can travel all over the world through other people's eyes. Thanks for sharing your work.


Celestial Charms said...

Beautiful photos. Thanks for taking us on this interesting tour. I've thoroughly enjoyed myself! :)

Joyce said...

I love your blog...it makes me homesick : ) I spent six years as an expat in the UK. I'd love to know 'where' outside London you are livng. I was in Gerrards Cross (Bucks). I haven't read back too far yet...are you involved with the American Women's Club at all? Our daughters were 13 and 15 when we moved to England. They both graduated from the ACS Hilllingdon (International School). I will definitely read more...thanks for visiting my blog and for your kind comments about my niece.

you should be out on a meadow said...

ha! bored husbands.
such beautiful gardens.
lucky you.