Cambridge Botanic Garden. 08.08.14

I'm not certain that Cambridge needs a pair of peripatetic pensioners but here we are roasting in the heat and ready to go.

Cambridge Botanic Garden has a simple playful charm and presents the most interesting plantings without any sense of worthy self importance. Perhaps the heat has been making me grumpy but I get a little tired of gardens that assume I am an idiot and tailor the display to the lowest common denominator. This garden is a charming relief, intelligent planting that allows us to appreciate it. Gloria says I am ranting, as though she thought it needed mentioning.

This wonderful Albizia julibrissin grows on a side entrance and must be appreciating the summer heat. In the last few years we have seen more of these in gardens and they put me in mind of my childhood and long evenings in Nice by the sleeping sea.

This little group of fountains occupies a clearing in the centre of the garden. I'm sure they have a specific purpose (fountains always do) but we were happy to enjoy them in the distance and not to enquire if they are a remembrance or a celebration of some sort.

At the entrance to the garden the exotic theme of the day was set by this group of Hedychium looking perfect. A large sign shows how proud the gardens are to grow H.gardnerianum and I am so pleased to see them that it is almost a pity to point out that it is actually H.densiflorum.

Throughout the garden there are subtle little moments opf playfulness and sometimes they are neither playful nor little. Gloria had reached the stage of the afternoon when she likes a little sleep and some wag has built a bed around her. These are the things that amuse the elderly, when you see us chuckling in a garden for no reason.

In the greenhouse we found the lovely Agapetes serpens which may well be hardy but clearly appreciates the extra protection. At the base it forms a large knobbly tuber that is actually a cluster of swollen roots. We were too late for the flaming scarlet flowers but they might have detracted from its character.

Here stand the gardens exotics in full growth. Much of it bedded out for the summer no doubt but flourishing in the sun. We should come to Cambridge more often I think.

If you have any comments you can e-mail us: