Southsea Rock Gardens
Living as I do, quite near to the coast in the south of England, I have visited several places of interest during my time here.
One of my favourite places is the Southsea Rock Garden, which is just a short way from Portsmouth and on the sea front so it is very easy to find. Access is easy and free, and if you like gardens you’ll love this one.
Calling it a rock garden makes it sound small, but it is over 12.000 square metres. You can wander around and lose yourself in the peaceful tranquillity that is always there, no matter what time of year you visit.
I was surprised to discover that it was built in the early 1920’s by unskilled labourers, set to work by the government during the years of depression after the First World War
The garden is designed on several levels with paths and steps leading you to many areas of natural beauty filled with an impressive array of plants. Huge rocks and boulders were brought down from Cumberland to create magnificent rockeries and a huge fountain and waterfall occupy the centre stage, with a goldfish pond at the bottom. I never could find out who actually designed this garden all those years ago, but if I ever come into any money, I would have this garden replicated in my own back yard. I would need a very big back yard and lot of money though, for this place is huge!
Nearly a hundred years later, we can still enjoy the layout and beauty of the unusual planting, despite its being badly flooded on several occasions whenever a fierce enough storm arrives from out at sea. The last time this happened was just a few months ago, and I worried that the damage would be so severe the garden would be ruined.
But when I went there it was as if nothing had happened. The voluntary organisation, The Friends of the Garden, had done a magnificent job, pumping out all the sea water as quickly as possible to prevent the salt damage and there were flowers in bloom everywhere I looked.
I expected to find desolation and ruin and be saddened by the loss of a beautiful thing, only to have my heart gladdened by the display of care and attention that I did find there. To say I was pleased does not begin to describe my joy as I walked around and enjoyed the sense of peace and serenity the garden has always given me…
(and I need to go back again in the near future!)