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Established in 1765 by the First Countess of Ilchester as a kitchen garden for her nearby castle, Abbotsbury Sub-Tropical Gardens has evolved into a magnificent 30-acre garden with exotic plants from all over the world. Some of the plants have a real Jurassic-era feel with ferns and fronds making you wonder if a dinosaur might appear around the next corner!
The special anniversary Burma Rope Bridge
The Gardens celebrated their 250th Anniversary in 2015 and to celebrate this special anniversary, a 36-metre 'Burma Rope Bridge' was installed across the Jurassic pond area at the very bottom of the valley. It’s a site with a steamy tropical appearance as well as a very jungle-like atmosphere. It is one of the longest rope bridges in the UK and cost £100,000 to build. The bridge was just part of a programme of events to celebrate the gardens’ anniversary, which also included a special 250th anniversary ale, brewed by Dorset microbrewery Gyle 59. Abbotsbury asked them to produce a beer flavoured with Drimys Llanceolata – 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. Being high in antioxidants, it was once used to treat scurvy in sailors.
About the bridge, the gardens’ owner, Charlotte Townshend said, “It’s a brilliant addition to 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 any time of year.
Listen out for the Kookaburras!
Abbotsbury is a real haven for wildlife. There is nothing more delightful than the sound of a chorus of the kookaburras.
The localised microclimate gives visitors subtropical warmth, which makes for a nice afternoon out on cold winter days – especially when followed by a steaming pot of tea and piece of cake in the colonial-style restaurant building. Abbotsbury is certainly worth a visit at any time of year and is suitable for all the family as well as a great day out.
We have a wonderful selection of holiday cottages in Dorset for you to stay in when visiting these charming gardens. Have a peek at our selection and see which is the best for you. Cottages, converted barns and properties on the beach - some with glorious gardens of their own!