I visited UBC Botanical Gardens in Vancouver this week, and Daniel Mosquin, the bioinformatics and web manager there, was kind enough to give me a guided tour. The highlight for me had to be the food garden, which inspired me to grow several new things after a previous visit a few years ago, including the swiss chard called Bright Lights, whose trippy colours always go down well with visitors. It's certainly pretty enough not to look out of place in an ornamental border.
This time Blanche, a volunteer at the Botanical Gardens with a particular passion for the food garden, was on hand to give me the lowdown on the crops. I didn't know that most of them are donated to the Salvation Army: good to know they're going to a good cause and won't be wasted. I was particularly inpressed with the huge purple kohl rabi, the luxuriously spreading kiwi vines and the juicy cabbages.
Daniel's tour was full of useful nuggets of information and reflections on gardening in the wonderfully lush surrounds of the west coast of Canada: and it featured tastings of a couple of berries I'd never tried before. If you want to keep abreast of what Daniel's looking at in the garden right now, visit his photo of the day feature.
The UBC Botanical Gardens also holds the honour of being one of the few publically open gardens I've come across with a weblog: I've now added it to my "green fingers" blogroll on the left-hand column.
Thanks for your suggestions for gardens to visit: as usual, my trip is drawing to an end and I haven't seen everything I'd planned to, but I come to Canada fairly regularly, so there's always a next time. Now my mind is starting to turn back to the state of my allotment: I think I'll find it hard not to roll in at my front door at 7am later this week after a long flight and find myself pulling on a pair of boots (after a stop for a nice cup of tea and a sit down, of course) for a quick tour of the plot.
As ever, I have grand renovation plans for the winter that involve all kinds of improvements, but my first job will no doubt be some serious harvesting and weeding. I hope there will be some pumpkins and squashes on the border of ripeness, and a handful of green beans to fry up with some pancetta, olive oil and maybe some globe artichokes. Once again, sorry blogging has been little better than sporadic of late: and if you've sent an email that I haven't replied to yet, rest assured you should hear from me in the coming days. I should be back to full service by next week.