Abbotsbury Sub-Tropical Gardens are celebrating their 250th Anniversary in 2015.
Established in 1765 by the First Countess of Ilchester initially as a kitchen garden for her nearby castle. Since then then it has evolved into a magnificent 30 acre garden with exotic plants from all over the world.
Some with a real Jurassic feel with ferns and large leaves making you wonder “will a dinosaur appear around the next corner?”
This year to mark the special 250th anniversary of Abbotsbury Sub-Tropical Gardens a 36 metre (in Olde English that is nearly 120ft) “Burma Rope Bridge” or (“Myanmar Rope Bridge” as the country is now known), across the Jurassic pond area at the very bottom of the valley in a site that really does have a steamy tropical appearance and a very Jungle like atmosphere. It is one of the longest rope bridges in the UK, Abbotsbury’s bridge cost £100,000 to build and is just part of a programme of events to celebrate the gardens’ anniversary, which include a special 250th anniversary ale, brewed by Dorset microbrewery Gyle 59. Abbotsbury has them to produce beer flavoured with Drimys lanceolata, also known as mountain pepper, an Australian rainforest shrub that grows in the gardens. Mountain pepper is used today as a bushfood condiment to spice curries. It is high in antioxidants and was once used to treat scurvy in sailors.
We were lucky enough to be present at the opening of the bridge who non-other than writer and broadcaster Roy Lancaster cut the red tape and opened it for the local school children to explore and experience the bouncy and somewhat swinging bridge – some of whom were looking out for crocodiles and possibly a sighting of that dinosaur in the swamp – fantastic imagination.
The Hon Charlotte Townshend, who owns the gardens, said “It’s a brilliant addition for this end of the gardens and it adds a wonderful element of fun.”
The bridge is certainly a fantastic addition to the gardens which are wonderful at all times of year – with the localised micro-climate giving a real subtropical and warmth which on a fairly cool and slightly damp morning made for a nice break – especially when followed by a nice cup of tea and piece of cake in the colonial style building of the restaurant.
Abbotsbury is certainly worth a visit at any time of year and is suitable for all the family and is certainly a great day out.
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