Botanical Gardens of Britain – Six of the Best

by Stefan Mustieles on April 4, 2012 · 2 comments

in Garden Lifestyle

If you are interested in botanic gardens, then Britain certainly has plenty to choose from. From small, specialist venues to massive, all-inclusive institutions, there is no shortage of places to visit. As a brief guide, here are six of the best.

Kew Gardens

While most people only consider London as a city break destination; perhaps the best known are the Royal Botanic Gardens in southwest London. Encompassing some 121 hectares, the Royal Botanic Gardens – often known as Kew Gardens – have gardens and glasshouses that stretch all the way from Kew to Richmond.

Royal Botanic Gardens - Kew Gardens

Royal Botanic Gardens - Kew Gardens

Indeed, Kew is home to the largest collection of living plants in the world and employs over 650 specialist staff to ensure the gardens are suitably maintained. There are over 30,000 species of living plants, while the herbarium contains more than seven-million preserved specimens.

There is also a library with over 750,000 books and a print collection that has over 175,000 drawings and prints. Kew is now on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Open all year round, the closest station (for both overground and underground trains) is Kew Gardens on the District Line.

Chelsea Physic Garden

If you are looking for an alternative in London, however, then the Chelsea Physic Garden in Royal Hospital Road is a good choice. As the oldest botanic garden in London, it has been a place to come to and learn about plants and flowers for over 300 years.

Chelsea Physic Garden

Chelsea Physic Garde

Today, the venue is a self-supporting charity that specialises in introducing school children to the subject. Covering some four acres, the gardens have a splendid collection of rare plants, both outdoors and in glasshouses, in addition to various medicinal herbs.

The Chelsea Physic Garden also includes the largest fruiting olive tree in the country and the oldest rock garden in Europe, which was built from the leftovers of the construction of the Tower of London. Open from April until October, the nearest Tube station is Sloane Square and the nearest train station is Victoria. Entry is £9 for adults and £6 for children.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Another of Britain’s major cities that boasts a great a botanical garden is Birmingham. Opened in 1832, the Birmingham Botanical Gardens and Greenhouses are located in Westbourne Road, Edgbaston and are home to four glasshouses packed with plants from tropical rainforests to deserts. The glasshouses are located in 15 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens.

It is open all year round and admission is £7.50 for adults and £4.75 for children. Look out for various up-and-coming events, especially around Easter time when the gardens will stage a number of concerts.

Holehird Gardens

Further north, the Holehird Gardens in Windermere, Cumbria, have been voted among the nation’s favourite on numerous occasions. Covering some 17 acres, the gardens include trees and shrubs, bulb displays, water gardens and rock gardens.

Open all year round, admission to the gardens is free. Situated in a beautiful lakeland setting within the Windermere region, the Holehird Gardens remain among the most visited in the country.

Dawyck Botanic Garden

Moving even further north to the Scottish borders, Dawyck Botanic Garden in Stobo covers a staggering 60 acres. It contains some exotic conifers that date back to the 17th century and some of the tallest trees in the country.

Dawyck Botanic Garden

Dawyck Botanic Garden

The gardens also boast the world’s first Crytogamic Reserve for non-flowering plants. Open between February and November, admission is £5 for adults while children can enter for just £1. The site is located eight miles south west of Peebles on the B712.

Cae Hir Gardens

Wales also has its own selection of great gardens, including Cae Hir Gardens in Lampeter, Ceredigion. Originally established by a Dutchman, this unique, eco-friendly centre covers six acres and includes a bonsai garden, a splendid cactus collection and a fascinating bog garden.

The premises also have a fantastic tea room – run by the owner’s daughter – and are open from Easter until late in October. Admission is £5 for adults and £2 for children and dogs are allowed.

These are just a few of Britain’s finest botanical gardens and you may want to do some further research to find the best one from you. From the north and south of England to Scotland, Ireland, Wales and even the Isle of Wight, there are plenty to choose from.

Guest post by TravelSupermarket.

About The Author

Stefan is a content writer for price comparison site MoneySupermarket.com.  After moving into his first home with a garden he is now a budding gardener and learning one step at a time.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Bruce April 12, 2012 at 1:22 pm

I'm surprised RHS Wisley Gardens is not on this list?

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Ben Neale April 26, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Ah – if Jack had written this, Wisley would definitely have been on the list, as it's an old haunt of his!

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