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Too often become desensitised with the Garden at Ventnor.  Seeing it every day we don’t have the opportunity to compare it with other gardens open to the public.  We casually walk past our plants; nearly every month has something flowering for the first time at Ventnor, for the first time in the UK, or even for the first time in cultivation, and we have become used to it.  This year many of our Puya collection have flowered for the first time, as have palms, cacti and some fascinating new shrubby South African plants.

A word of caution at this point, this self congratulation and back-slapping mustn’t disguise the fact that in many ways the functionality of Ventnor is many years behind our competitors.  The pangs from the introduction of an entry fee bring us back to the reality that this Garden now needs to include many other facilities to fulfil the expectations of our visitor.  By this I don’t mean a fantastic café with top quality food as delivered by Martyn, clearly marked out routes through the Garden and pristine toilet facilities.  We need to interpret our Garden, to explain what it is we do, and why the Garden looks different from any other.  Why do we leave leaves under the Cork Trees in the Mediterranean? Why leave empty spaces which seem to cry out for planting?  Why don’t we label all of the plants?  Why don’t we have spring bedding?  And why, in the name of Betsy, don’t we have a rose garden?

Quite how we do this, we’d love to know.  At the recent Design Walk in June one of our guests came up with a brilliant suggestion for a problem that has vexed us, and botanic gardens the world over, for years, and believe me, more than one PhD has been successfully defended in this particular field of expertise!  (we’re not about to explain it here, let the copiers visit us in person to find out!) So, we throw out the challenge, how do we explain our concepts, philosophies and principals to the widest audience?  You know where to find us….

Puya coerulea “Black Sapphire” Friday 17 August 2012