A nineteenth century botanic garden which also has a role as a role as a public garden, with a lake, a stream and rock gardens. There are systematic beds used for teaching purposes and a twentieth century garden with native vegetation. The botanic garden holds 9 National Collections.
Head Gardener's Comment
Since opening in 1846, the Cambridge University Botanic Garden has been an inspiration for gardeners, an exciting introduction to the natural world for families and a refreshing oasis for all our visitors.
This listed, heritage Garden was created by John Henslow, teacher and guiding light of Charles Darwin, and is the showcase for over 8,000 plant species from around the world, all immaculately displayed amongst a wonderful framework of mature trees.
Henslow’s trees form the mature structure of the Garden, creating both the towering evergreen grandeur of the Main Walk and the magical enclosed atmosphere of the Woodland Garden. Within this treescape lies the unique botanical masterpiece of the Systematic Garden. Designed in 1845, its intricate pattern of 150 beds displays 100 families and 1600 species of hardy herbaceous plants. The Rock Garden, with a beautiful vantage point over the Lake and Woodland Garden, boasts plants from every continent, while the newly restored teak Glasshouse Range displays the world’s flora through the ‘Drama of Diversity’ plantings.
Additions to the Garden during the 20th century reflect the horticultural and scientific developments of the last 100 years. The Dry Garden is an experiment to create a beautiful garden that survives the dry Cambridge climate, without watering. A Genetics Garden explores the outcome of research undertaken here by William Bateson and his collaborators, who laid the foundations of modern genetics. The ancestry of the rose is unravelled in the Rose Garden, and the Chronological Bed outlines the history of plant introduction to Britain.
Throughout the year the Botanic Garden provides visitors with inspiration through its range of landscapes, and the beautiful manipulation of colour, structure and scent in plants. Spring in the Garden is marked by the leafing up and flowering of trees and the eruption of the woodland understory. In Summer the Scented Garden, the roses and the lavender collection fill the air with perfume, and in Autumn the Garden explodes with fiery displays of leaf and fruit. Finally, as the year ends, the magical Winter Garden unfolds into a remarkable display of coloured stems and leaves, brave flowers and heady winter scents.
Plants of note
Nine national collections including species tulips, geranium and fritillary as well as important research collections of lavender, viburnum and shrubby honeysuckles.
The Jade Vine, which flowers each spring in the Tropical Houses is a spectacular sight as hundreds of metre-long, jade coloured inflorescences dangle down from the canopy.
I am puzzled by this garden. There is obviously money here and there are some lovely moments/views and lovely plants. There are seats to enjoy it as well. And then you come across the odd bed that frankly looks like it is either dead or has never had anything in it!
Where I think this garden ultimately fails is that, as this sites editor often says, the garden hasn't been designed. It's a bit like walking around a museum.
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