Birmingham Botanical Gardens & Glasshouses
The Birmingham Botanical Garden is highly recommended by Activ Birmingham as a place to visit under its heading of Great Days Out.
These delightful gardens and glasshouses are located in Westbourne Road, Edgbaston, and Birmingham. The gardens cover some 15 acres of interest and enjoyment, and were designed by one of the leading garden planners of the day, J.C. Loudon. Loudon was also a respected horticultural journalist and publisher. The gardens first opened to the paying public in 1832.
Today, visitors will find peace, splendour and tranquillity, plus excellent facilities including a shop, gallery, library, museum, a most essential tea room and a study centre. The gardens also provide educational facilities, courses and workshops. The Botanical Gardens promote various events from outside organisations during the year.
The Gardens, with its unique facilities and surroundings, also cater for banqueting, conference, weddings (either civil ceremony and/or receptions) with its tailor made menus and extensive dishes. It also offers excellent dinner dance amenities and is also an excellent venue for cocktail parties, lunches and dinners. Over the years the Birmingham Botanical Gardens has achieved a reputation of excellence for providing clients with both quality and flexibility.
The gardens themselves offer glasshouses rich with interesting plants associated with Tropical, Subtropical, Mediterranean and Arid climates.
The Arid House – This glasshouse is home to plants from low and irregulars rainfall areas, plus plants from dry areas such as those found on cliffs and branches of trees. The house is allowed to follow ambient temperatures; however, low level heating is used during periods of frost. Plants are watered up to three times a week during spring and summer periods, but totally withheld between October and March.
As well as cacti, this house contains a collection of living stones, carrion flowers and century plants. Plants of economic importance, such as sisal can also be found here.
The Mediterranean House – This house provides an atmosphere similar to that of a Victorian conservatory. This type of glasshouse was a feature of houses owned by wealthy families in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The central beds are planted with a number of citrus varieties. There are also Mediterranean shrubs such as the dwarf pomegranate, locust bean, etc. To add colour there are also varying varieties of fuchsia, geraniums, coleus with their variation of leaf colouring and various seasonal plants including chrysanthemums and bulbs.
The Subtropical House – This is the largest of the glasshouses, rising to 8 metres at its peak this being a height that is suitable to accommodate sizeable trees, palms, tree ferns, a Norfolk Island pine and a giant bird of paradise plant.
The temperature and humidity of this glasshouse are somewhat lower than those of the Tropical House and by maintaining a minimum temperature of 10C it tends to represent the climate of subtropical regions.
The Tropical House – If you wear glasses beware on entry as they quickly steam up, as do camera lenses. This house is planted with the most diverse variety of plants in a fairly small space when compared to the plants in other parts of the gardens.
The hot and humid conditions found here are very similar to the conditions found in the lowland equatorial regions of the tropics and the various species present, represent the great variation of life form which are characteristic of such habitats; including trees, climbers, epiphytes, ferns, shade loving herbs and water plants.
Loudon Terrace – The terrace is named in memory of J.C. Loudon who planned these gardens in 1830. It is an area to stroll, relax, chat or simply bask in the sun, should the English weather permit.
Main Lawn and Bandstand – The main lawn is an amphitheatre that acts as a sun trap, with the higher ground behind cutting of the cold northerly winds. The lawn, when weather conditions permit, is a popular spot for picnics and the focal point of the gardens, inviting visitors to leave the terrace and explore some of the more remote areas of the gardens.
The Cottage and Garden – The red bricked cottage provides a combination of architectural styles and its gardens a natural setting for a collection of plants reminiscent, from the visitor’s imagination, of the cottage gardens of time past.
The gardens also contain and feature the following:-
Growing Schools Garden – Designed by TV’s Chris Beardshaw, this garden is an example of how teaching and learning can take place beyond the classroom.
Pinetum – A conifer grove with larch, pines, redwoods, cedars, Douglas fir and a maidenhair tree.
Alpine Yard – Demonstrating the numerous ways alpines can be displayed.
Historic Gardens – Examples of Roman, Medieval and Tudor gardens.
British Wetlands – A landscaped reproduction of native wetland habitat.
Herbaceous Borders – A must for most gardens.
Herb Garden – Containing ornamental, culinary and medicinal varieties.
Acer Collection – A small arboretum of maples.
Winter Garden & Fountain – Early flowering plants and shrubs to bring colour to an otherwise lack lustre winter garden.
Rock Garden & Pool – A mountain landscape in miniature.
Children’s Playground – A traditional playground an adventure trail.
Wild life Glade – A small plot managed to reproduce a flower meadow.
Azalea Valley – Borders of Azaleas.
Rhododendron Walk – A shady walk through new and old varieties.
Wilson Border – Devoted to plants from China.
Fern Garden & Woodland Walk – Recently replanted with varieties used when the gardens were first opened.
Grass Garden – A variety of plants from the grass family.
Japanese Garden – Built by members of the Japanese Garden Society.
National Bonsai Collection – A fine display of hardy varieties.
Lawn Aviary – Home to a variety of birds.
The gardens and greenhouses are expertly maintained to a very high standard and as can be seen, the variation in garden types is quite phenomenal. For a great day out the Birmingham Botanical Gardens are a must for all enthusiasts and lovers of quality gardens.