Surrounded by the beautiful National Trust skyline, and with wonderful allotments, gardens and parks in Bath, this is very much a green city. The city is also renowned for its horticultural credentials, and has won the Britain in Bloom best city category ten times and the regional South West in Bloom title 22 times. Here, Jon Wheatley of Stonebarn Nurseries gives us the scoop on six places to find fabulous flowers in Bath this summer...
I like to promote happy, healthy, horticulture!
Gardening is therapeutic - you get fit doing it, and growing your own vegetables ensures that you eat healthily. What's more, anyone can be a gardener.
In our show gardens at Chelsea and Hampton Court, we often combine wonderful, decorative vegetables amongst the stunning floral displays. Here are six of my favourite places to find Bath in bloom.
With its sun-drenched courtyards, plants thrive in Milsom Place, so much so that it been awarded a Gold medal in South West in Boom, despite competition from over 20 entries across the region.
Located between Milsom Street and Broad Street, you’ll find a little haven where our planters add colour throughout the year.
I am involved in designing and implementing the planting scheme for the Milsom Place Festival of Flowers, which will take place from 16th–17th June this year.
I am keen to re-introduce Bath's Floral Heritage which has always made it a special place for visitors - the festival at Milsom Place is all about urban greening, and will be regenerative and fun with lots going on including workshops and, of course, a plant sale.
You can expect to see pops of hot colour from the National Dahlia Collection from Cornwall, and a new release for 2019 on show for the very first time.
Lizzie, my daughter, will also be working on the floral designs for Milsom Place, which will feature a wide range of bedding plants and seasonal English perennials, such as lupins and delphiniums, in cool shades like the current favourite pantone purple - we love to show how to use colour with confidence!
Royal Victoria Park
Every season I like to visit Royal Victoria Park, which was opened in 1830 by the 11-year-old Princess Victoria, seven years before she became Queen, and was the first park to carry her name.
The children’s playground and mini golf are popular with young people and families but the park is extensive and covers 57 acres – it was originally an arboretum so has many fine specimen trees.
The lawns under the Royal Crescent haha are a favourite spot for summer picnics, and the Park is a popular place to gather in early evening to watch the hot air balloons take off.
The Botanical Gardens
The Botanical Gardens in Royal Victoria Park date back to 1887 and showcase a wonderful collection of specialist flowers and shrubs, including some lovely old shrub roses. Every park has its folly, so look out for the replica of a Roman Temple, which was the city’s exhibit at the British Empire Exhibition held at Wembley in 1924. The Bath WI has a little enclave in the middle of the Botanical Gardens and grow cheerful sunflowers in the summer.
Every city has a bandstand and in Bath, you will find one in Parade Gardens. The Bath Parks team work hard to create an eye-catching display of summer bedding plants each year. This park, next to the weir and close to Pulteney Bridge, is the perfect place to find a deckchair and relax and take a break from sightseeing.
Like Vauxhall Gardens in London, Sydney Gardens was a Georgian Pleasure Garden. It opened in 1795 and was a favourite gathering point for lavish breakfasts and entertainments.
Today you can find the Loggia and a historic Labyrinth that were original features of the eighteenth-century gardens You can also discover some industrial history as the Brunel’s Great Western Railway and the Kennet and Avon Canal both go through the park.
Stroll down the canal out to the George at Bathampton and have a snack on the canal barge café moored just beyond the George.
Planting in city spaces is important, and I like to see cities invest in planting and floral displays. Kingsmead Square is dominated by a lovely plane tree, which provides some much-needed shade in the warmer months, and this summer, the square will be decorated with 60 stunning flower baskets.
The traditional hanging baskets down Milsom Street and down the spine of the city are always well cared for and bring colour to the heart of the city.
Jon Wheatley of Stonebarn Nurseries in Chew Magna is a Council Member of the RHS, and has recently been feted at the Chelsea Flower Show, where he added another Gold Medal to his collection. Jon’s work includes designing and building gardens at all the major shows as well as contracts including the planting for Milsom Place in Bath.
Milsom Place is staging a spectacular Festival of Flowers, a brand new event for the city of Bath, over the weekend of 16th and 17th June 2018. Jon Wheatley will be creating head-turning displays, so come along with your camera to get inspiration for your garden. Share your photographs on social media using #MPFlowerFest.