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Tea time as celebrity botanist visits country garden

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 05, 2012

Head curator Stephen Griffith with gardener, broadcaster and natural remedies enthusiast James Wong, at Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens

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Celebrity botanist James Wong found an exotic Westcountry garden was exactly his cup of tea when he paid a visit.

The expert, who famously cultivates tea in his Croyden garden, popped in to Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens in Dorset where he found a host of unusual herbs, spices and plants.

Curator Stephen Griffith, took the gardener, broadcaster and natural remedies enthusiast on a tour around the green paradise ahead of a two-hour presentation and book signing.

After his visit, Mr Wong used social media to express his delight by tweeting a photo of some green tea leaves he picked at Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens.

His tweet read: "Today's tea harvest from sunny Dorset. Let's see how it compares to my South London finest."

Around 60 people turned out to meet Mr Wong, who was promoting his book Homegrown Revolution. He said: "I have always wanted to visit Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens. It's a lot bigger than I imagined it would be. I just went and picked some green tea (camellia sinensis) leaves that are growing here today. You don't even need a tropical or subtropical climate to grow these."

Mr Griffith said afterwards that it was a pleasure to meet the botanist.

"He was really impressed with our layout, an undulating valley that replicates conditions in the wild.

"Here we're able to enjoy a microclimate within a microclimate, perfect for growing the plants he talks about in Homegrown Revolution."

Mr Griffith said their star visitor was delighted with many of the unusual plants.

"Other species he was taken with include the cinnamonium camphor tree, Tasmanian pepper bush, Siberian ginseng tree, elephant ears and other spices and herbs that have no end of medicinal uses."

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