Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Travels Abroad: Pit Stop in London

After two and a half weeks traveling abroad for work, as well as a little pleasure, I'm glad to finally be back home.  I've missed gardening the last few weeks, but from what I can tell, there wasn't much to miss in Texas with the 100 degree days and little to no rain.  I came home to a lot of dead plants, but also to some newly completed garden beds that are just waiting for fall planting.  But until the temperatures drop at least ten degrees or so, I'll focus on recapping some of my great adventures abroad...primarily those focused on plants and wildlife.

The main purpose of my business trip took me to Johannesburg, South Africa for a couple of weeks.  I ended up taking the new international flight from Austin to London on British Airways, and then London to Johannesburg.  My stop in London was a 12 hour layover, so my coworker and I decided to do a little sight-seeing while we were there.

Our stops included some of the most touristy spots that were easy to get to from the underground, which included Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and the Tower of London.

I'm a big fan of English gardens, so I loved viewing all the Royal Gardens around Buckingham Palace.  These  beds right outside of the palace were full of red geraniums.

The Royal ponds also included various ducks and geese.  I had never seen this brown variety of a duck before in the US.

Fall was in the air in London, and along with it were the fall asters in the gardens.  These ones were beautiful.  I definitely want to plant some asters in my fall garden this year.

I loved looking at all the perennial beds in the Royal Gardens.  It is especially wonderful to see varieties of plants that I wouldn't normally see in a Texas garden.

The Royal Garden included a bridge, where if you look in one direction, you see Buckingham Palace, and if you look in the other, you see the London Eye.

The last stop of the short sight-seeing day was at the Tower of London where hundreds of thousands of red ceramic poppies filled the old moat.  It was a display called "Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red," a commemoration for the 100 year anniversary of Britain's first involvement in the First World War.  888,246 ceramic poppies were placed in the old moat, one for each British and Colonial fatality during the war.   It was a very powerful visual - especially with the thought of the poppies representing the blood spilled.   Poppies are also a symbol of remembrance, so it was a very moving display.


  1. Thanks for sharing your shots from London - the juxtaposition of the red geraniums displayed for pleasure in the gardens at the "seat of power" with the ceramic poppies spilling out of the site of where actual warriors once stood was eerie and awesome.

    1. I didn't even think about the contrast between the red used as a sign of pleasure and power in the Royal Gardens to the red poppies at the Tower to signify tragedy and devastation. Very interesting comparison. And I completely agree, the site of the sea of poppies was very eerie and such a unique a beautiful display to commemorate the lives lost.

  2. Those poppies are a stunning sight.

    The palace gardens are pretty, it's so interesting to see what grows where and when all over the world. We are still weeks away from aster season. Nice you could find time for garden visits on your long journey.

    1. I love seeing different gardens all over the world and was glad I got to see some English gardens on my very short stop in London. I'm excited for the temperatures to drop in the next few weeks so I can do some fall planting. Asters are on the top of my list as far as new plants for the garden this season!