Landscape Architecture 2-Day Road Trip in the Land of Queen Elizabeth II

Blocs 77. Photo credit: Mr. Wison Tungthanya

Article by Win Phyo. We explore for the concept for going on a landscape architecture inspired road trip, this time in the land of Queen Elizabeth II in England. Since we are nearing the end of summer, what better way to make the most of it by squeezing in a road trip before autumn approaches? If you find yourself answering yes to the following questions, you should head down to England and venture on our two-day road trip; you will not be disappointed! Are you interested in the grandeur of English gardens? Do you want to experience how traditional British gardening has evolved into modern and sophisticated landscape architecture? From a castle grounds to a beach, with an array of Grade I listed buildings, historic gardens, and Sites of Scientific Interest (SSSI), the amount of diversity on this trip highlights some of the very best landscapes in England throughout history.

Olympic Park, London, United Kingdom. Photo credit: Alvin Leong via Flickr, licensed under CC 2.0

Olympic Park, London, United Kingdom. Photo credit: Alvin Leong via Flickr, licensed under CC 2.0

The Land of Queen Elizabeth II

Stop 1 Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London

Start your trip in East London at the infamous Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, home to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. LDA-Design and Hargreaves Associates were the leading landscape firms to realise the masterplan.

Olympic Park. Photo credit: Ed Webster,via Flickr. Licensed under CC 2.0

Olympic Park. Photo credit: Ed Webster,via Flickr. Licensed under CC 2.0

The site is huge; its 111 acres of open space range from intricate wetlands to broad meadows and is a great example of restoring an abandoned, highly contaminated urban area. If you are short for time, the best ways to see its highlights would be to take a walking or boat tour that passes through the beautiful landscaped parklands and the iconic venues. WATCH >>> The Olympic Park: a Landscape Legacy

Tip: Stop for a refreshing drink and meal at Counter Coffee, an independent bohemian canal-side café. Next Stop: Great Dixter House and Gardens (61.3 miles; 1hr 58mins drive)

Stop 2 Great Dixter House and Gardens

Located in East Sussex, Great Dixter is the family home of gardener and gardening writer Christopher Lloyd. The house itself is an interesting compilation of the original mid-15th century housing with 16th- and 20th-century additions.

Great Dixter. CC0 Public Domain

Great Dixter. CC0 Public Domain

Great Dixter. Photo credit: Malcolm Manners, via Flickr. Licensed under CC 2.0

Great Dixter. Photo credit: Malcolm Manners, via Flickr. Licensed under CC 2.0

The gardens are a picturesque pilgrimage place for horticulturists from around the world. There are a diversity of spaces within the grounds from “Barn Garden”, to “Solar Garden” to “Cat Garden” and many more. As told by Christopher Lloyd himself, who did not believe in segregation of plants, the spaces are an inspirational mixture of colour, type and bold sculptural hedges. WATCH >>> Great Gardens: “Great Dixter” by Howard Sooley

Overnight Stay Escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and continue enjoying the scenic atmosphere at the many traditional bed and breakfasts around the area, before heading down on a shorter drive to your next stop. Next Stop: (Sissinghurst, 15.1 miles, 30mins drive)

Stop 3 Sissinghurst Castle Garden

A visit to Sissinghurst Castle Garden in Kent can be like something out of a fairy tale. The grounds consist of “garden rooms” inspired by the romantic and intimate poems and writings of the owner Vita Sackville-West, who also worked as an artist-gardener. Each garden will bring you tons of inspiration for colour and concepts. WATCH >>> Walk through the White Garden of Sissinghurst Castle

Tip: Don’t miss the beautiful White Garden, inspired by white gardens around the world and enjoy panoramic views from the top of the Tower. Next Stop: (Dungeness, 27.4 miles, 50-minutes drive)

Stop 4 Dungeness: Prospect Cottage by Derek Jarman

You can end your trip here in Dungeness, a headland on the coast of Kent, and a Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI). It is one of the few areas in lowland Britain where natural plant communities have been little modified by man’s management. The shingle beaches and associated brackish and freshwater pools are of importance both for their physiography and for their flora and fauna. It is here that you will find Prospect Cottage’s famous garden by Derek Jarman, an English film director, on the shingle shore near Dungeness nuclear power station.

Land of Queen Elizabeth

Prospect Cottage, Dungeness. Photo credit: Jon’s pics, via Flickr, licensed under CC 2.0

Note that the garden can be seen from the path but unfortunately, the property is privately owned. Using elements from the surrounding landscape, his garden and cottage can be described as minimalistic, eccentric and poetic; well worth the stroll to get a glimpse. Tip: Have a meal at Pilot Inn Fish and Chips, better yet some fish and chips; stated by Derek Jarman as “Simply the best fish and chips in all of England” Next Stop: (Cambridge Botanical Garden, 123 miles, 2hrs 18mins drive) Have some more time?

Stop 5 Cambridge Botanical Garden

If you still haven’t had enough of the tour of British landscapes, perhaps you can have your final stop at Cambridge Botanical Garden to round up the trip. John Hounslow, Charles Darwin’s tutor, founded it in 1846. Originally, the garden was growing herbaceous plants to teach medical students at the University and now the garden displays 8,000 different plants. WATCH >>> Cambridge University Botanic Garden: from the air

Tip: Explore the infamous Cambridge afterwards and stay there overnight! This comes to the end of our virtual tour, however, we suggest you grab a friend or two, fill up your car with petrol and head down to an airport or motorway and come see these sites for yourself. They are rich in history and quality you would be glad to step foot into them to experience their timeless beauty. Have you visited any of the sites mentioned above? Have they inspired you to go on your own landscape architecture road trip?


Land of Queen Elizabeth

Dry Garden, after rain at Cambridge Botanical Garden. Photo credit: Alex Brown, Flickr. Licensed under CC 2.0

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Article by Win Phyo

Published in Blog

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