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Leigh Turner

Ambassador to Austria and UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Vienna

Part of UK in Austria

18th April 2019 Vienna, Austria

Are British gardens the best? Visit Britain and decide for yourself!

I was delighted last month to attend the annual spring opening of Praskac Pflanzenland, one of Austrian’s largest gardening suppliers.  Praskac rather brilliantly have this year chosen the theme of “English Gardens”.

Based close to Tulln in Lower Austria, Praskac was founded in 1875.  The company is one of Austria’s largest distributors of English roses; and worked with the Embassy several years ago to set up a rose garden in Hirschstetten in Vienna’s 22nd district. I recommend visiting the garden for stroll, and to sample the lovely scent of the flowers.

Britain has a remarkable history of gardening innovation and practice.  Lancelot “Capability” Brown, an English landscape architect in the 18th century who is sometimes called England’s greatest gardener, designed over 170 parks, many of which you can still visit. In fact, visiting gardens is one of the most popular tourist activities in the UK – there are gems in all parts of the British Isles.

You may already have discovered the gardens of the United Kingdom.  But in case not, here are some of the most popular.  They are waiting for you to visit!

Studley Royal, Yorkshire, England

  • Georgian water gardens
  • neo-classical statues
  • views of the surrounding Yorkshire countryside

National Botanic Garden of Wales, Llanarthne, Wales

  • home to Wales’ rarest tree
  • atmospheric sculpture garden
  • range of themed gardens — particularly the spectacular Ghost Forest

Kew Gardens, London, England

  • established back in 1759
  • one of the city’s most popular attractions and a World Heritage Site.
  • grand Victorian glasshouses collection

Stowe Landscape Gardens, Buckinghamshire, England

  • one of garden designer Capability Brown’s greatest works,
  • full of water features, beautifully landscaped curves and long avenues

Drumlanrig Castle Gardens, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland

  • 40 acres of gardens next to Scotland’s most magnificent castle.
  • brings together woodland walks and a grand Victorian glasshouse
  • dates back to the 17th century

Capability Brown also laid out “The Backs” in Cambridge.  To take a punt down the River Cam and feast on this festival of landscape gardening is a high-point of any visit to the UK.  Just don’t fall in the water.

I also have a garden at my Residence in Vienna. It has some famous English roses such as Winchester Cathedral (white), English garden (orange, and fragrant) and William Shakespeare (red).  A highlight for many of my visitors is my garden gnome, Günther, from Cologne, who has accompanied me to Sevenoaks, Kyiv, Istanbul and Vienna since we met in Berlin in 2006.

He now lives under a “malus purpurea” purple crab apple tree here in Vienna and shows every sign of enjoying the arrival of spring as much as the rest of us.

About Leigh Turner

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of…

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of the UN and other organisations; stories here will reflect that.

About me: I arrived in Vienna in August 2016 for my second posting in this wonderful city, having first served here in the mid-1980s. My previous job was as HM Consul-General and Director-General for Trade and Investment for Turkey, Central Asia and South Caucasus based in Istanbul.

Further back: I grew up in Nigeria, Exeter, Lesotho, Swaziland and Manchester before attending Cambridge University 1976-79. I worked in several government departments before joining the Foreign Office in 1983.

Keen to go to Africa and South America, I’ve had postings in Vienna (twice), Moscow, Bonn, Berlin, Kyiv and Istanbul, plus jobs in London ranging from the EU Budget to the British Overseas Territories.

2002-6 I was lucky enough to spend four years in Berlin running the house, looking after the children (born 1992 and 1994) and doing some writing and journalism.

To return to Vienna as ambassador is a privilege and a pleasure. I hope this blog reflects that.