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A Tea Tree in Sheffield

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I had a wander around the Winter Gardens in Sheffield the other day, a stunning feat of architecture with huge timber beams soaring cathedral-like towards the heavens.

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Inside is housed a collection of plants often found in temperate climates and sections devoted to Australasia, including a tea tree. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in the flesh before so I was delighted!

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Tea Tree is one of the most commonly used essential oils as it has great antibacterial, anti-infectious and anti-fungal properties, to name just a few. It appears in many different products from skin cleansers to natural toilet cleaners. According to Tisserand, it is also an emotional tonic for lethargy, anxiety and depression. It is often known as the bottle brush tree due to the formation of the needles, as you can see below.

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There were also some great examples of New Zealand’s Norfolk Island Pines, which have been around since the Jurassic period.

Norfolk Island Pines, Sheffield, winter gardens, essential oils, Aromatherapy, massage, Belper, Derbyshire

As far as I’m aware, these pines aren’t used in aromatherapy. I dare say they are used medicinally in some way in their native home though. Other plants I found that are harvested for their healing properties were eucalyptus, aloes, jasmine and the olive pictured above.

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A selection of Aloes

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Jasmine, it caught my nose before it caught my eye!

There was also some beautiful colours dotted around, although I don’t know the name of those plants as there’s no essential oils produced from them! The Winter Gardens are well worth a visit, I’ll definitely be hanging around in there again soon.

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A wander around Altea, Spain

I had a wonderful few days in Altea, Spain, at the beginning of this month, meeting up with a dear friend and exploring the town.

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Just along the coast from Benidorm, Altea has a beautiful old town with the church of La Mare de Déu del Consol at it’s centre, perched on the top of the hill overlooking the bay.

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La Mare de Déu del Consol (Our Lady of Solace) church, with it’s sky blue domes in the centre of the old town, Altea

The labyrinthine, cobbled streets with white washed houses and small squares are home to some beautiful Mediterranean plants, including olive and orange trees, climbing jasmine, hibiscus and bougainvillea.

I think the locals must have thought me strange as I was more interested in taking photos of the plants than I was in the usual tourist hot spots!

And of course, I couldn’t resist a paddle in the sea! It had been cold, wet and windy the first few days and by the last day, when most of these photos were taken, it was beginning to brighten up. The sea actually felt quite warm (compared to what I’m used to, which is Cornish sea temperatures🥶) and maybe if I’d had another day or two there I’d have swum, but I was content just to get my feet wet ☺️.

 

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Eden in winter, part one

The last time I went to the Eden Project in Cornwall was over 10 years ago so I was interested to find out what had changed and what had stayed the same.

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If only I could gallop away on one of these magical beauties

I was delighted the horse sculptures by Heather Jansch were still there to greet visitors at the entrance to the visitor centre. They are stunning, I remember being blown away by them when I first saw them, I don’t know how many years ago.

It was a cold, wet and windy day in the middle of February this year when I went, but thankfully warm inside, dry in the temperate biome and humid in the tropical biome. It is fascinating to see the array of plants grown inside the domes, and outside as you wend your way from the car park, through the visitor centre, down the banks of the ‘massive crater’ that houses the domes and across the bridge to their entrance.  (I will go into specific plants in part two.)

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Veg plot goals

This is the vegetable garden with the tropical biome behind. It’s just before the bridge to the biomes and right next to the canteens, so the kitchen staff can use fresh, home grown produce in their dishes. Delicious, sustainable sustenance!

A new introduction for me was to be met in the tropical biome by roul-rouls, a type of partridge originally from Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Sumatra and Borneo. They are colourful, rotund birds that camouflage well on the rainforest floor and help with pest control in the biome.

The biomes remain as impressive as the first time I saw them, like giant bubble wrap waiting to be jumped on and popped. From the (new to me) canopy walkway in the tropical biome you can really appreciate the structure, and get a great view of the rainforest below.

The temperate biome feels like a garden I’d like to escape into, with it’s fragrant herbs, olive groves and citrus trees. There’s even a friendly goat to rest on when your feet are tired from walking all day.

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Smiley goat