This has to be one of the most unusual Botanic Gardens I’ve ever accessed in my life. From the Monte Palace Gardens, Madeira to South Africa at Kirstenbosch, this tops them by a million miles. And, every step of the way is worth it. Grab a cuppa, you’re gonna love love this one.
From the first side of the road, cross the Kura River over the Peace Bridge.
On the far side of the Peace Bridge is Rike Park. It’s better if you view this in video – below – but just wait with me until you see the grand piano. That, the architecture in the background and the planting is pretty cool as far as any park is concerned.
But wait, there’s more…… from there, take the cable car up to the top of the mountain. Being that I don’t naturally float or in this case fly, I’m quite afraid of heights when not in a tree. That said and though even seeing the cables in the photo below make me queezy, I did this one twice.
A little detour for just a second: From there, a wee walk up the hill (grab an ice cream cone on your way) and to your right and you’ll get to see the Monument of the Mother of Georgians, which overlooks where you have just come from. You’re almost there…..
Walk back down towards the cable car, but don’t pass it by. Just before, on the right hand side – you would miss it – and up a couple of cobbled steps is a little platform. From there and no I am not joking, is a zip wire.
Being that I am not of the ornithological type, as previously noted, I and my size 13 runners and one of the girls I met took the quite steep and narrow steps down. My colleagues (and James who recorded this video) however did not. You can see us walking beneath at around 12 seconds on the video below.
At the bottom of the steps there is a cabin and a small entry fee, which I didn’t have to pay.
Back to it, the walk through this side of the gardens here is wonderful. Bearing in mind (horticulturally) it’s on the opposite side of a mountain and it’s therefore not your average botanical garden. This video from the gate at the opposite end may (though it might just add to the confusion) better explain it.
Within the gardens, small and unique as it may be is a Japanese Garden – it’s near enough to the zip wire base landing as a by the way which is were we met the rest of the group.
We sat there for a good while on both days we visited just chatting and taking in what was around, above and below us. And I guess any garden that achieves that, has done something very right irrespective of how I botanically might see it.
But here’s the thing and it is the greatest compliment one can give to the former Tbilisi Botanical Gardens, or in fact any gardens. Take 7 grown adults, (in this case 2 with a formal education in horticulture, the others not even remotely or wish to be involved in it) and sit them in any park, space or place happily, for longer than 3 hours.
On a minimum level, the basics so to speak; the 161 hectare estate that pre dates 1671, though undergoing some improvements at the time was very well looked after. To it’s charachter is it’s greatest challenge (maybe) and the mountain into which it is built, it’s shape, the layout and the journey down through it.
The National Botanical Garden of Georgia, in Tbilisi is as my Mom described me for all of her life, very unique and as with the very best gardens I have ever been to, it is always better when one is surrounded by those with whom you spend that time there. I really cannot recommend it highly enough.