In the north-west corner of the University Botanic Garden in Cambridge there is a short, slow-flowing stream. It's fed by Hobson's Conduit, an artificial water-course built in the seventeenth century to bring fresh water into the town, and supplies water to the bog-garden and lake.
Along it's length the gardeners take advantage of the wet environment to grow many water-guzzling plants which would otherwise not survive in this area of low rainfall. Area of low rainfall? In England? Yes, indeed. Despite all the clichés, this part of England receives only 563mm (22 inches) of rain each year. That's about the same as San Francisco, and less than Miami, Perth (Aus), Cape Town or Lisbon.
One of the most striking things about the stream garden, to a regular visitor like me, is the change that takes place through the seasons. In winter there's a lot of bare earth showing, then come the spring the gardeners are here planting it up for the summer and within a few short months the stream is all but hidden by the luxuriant vegetation, all built from the nutrients in the soil, water and sunshine.
Plants which thrive here include giant rhubarb, gunnera manicata, the skunk cabbage, lysichiton americanum, plume thistle (cirsium rivulare ‘Atropurpureum’), Culver's root (veronicastrum virginicum) and bleeding heart (dicentra spectabilis) - it says on the website.
Dragonflies often make a home here too, but it's really just a place to wander slowly absorbing the whole wild rampant show of growth.