The Birmingham Botanical Gardens is an educational charity which aims to bring together plants and people. The Birmingham Horticultural Society, founded in 1829, opened the gardens in 1832 on the present site in Edgbaston. The intention was to “combine a scientific with an ornamental garden”. This remains the case today with a documented plant collection displayed within the 15 acre Grade II* historic landscape designed by John Claudius Loudon, “one of the most prominent landscape gardeners of the age”.
The collection consists of 7,500 plants from 5,100 different taxa. These range from unique specimens found nowhere else in the world, wild collected and conservation grade species to familiar garden cultivars.
The collection includes plants from all climates, including the tropics, sub-tropics, Mediterranean and arid zones contained in the historic 19th Century glasshouses and an extensive temperate collection in the outer gardens.
Special collections include educational and economic plants from the tropics, garden plants associated with the Midlands, plants collected by Ernest Henry Wilson (‘Chinese’ Wilson the plant hunter who was trained at the gardens) and generic collections of Pelargonium, Lilium and Cyclamen.
The gardens are also the home of the National Bonsai collection. Other trees are on loan from the members of the ‘Friends of the National Bonsai Collection’, who assist in the maintenance of the collection.
The gardens has a specialist botanical and horticultural library of several thousand volumes.
- The unique hybrid tree fern Dicksonia x lathamii (named afterWilliam Latham a Victorian Curator of the collection) was raisedhere and has survived in the sub-tropical house since the 1860s. It is the only known example of a hybrid between the Australian treefern Dicksonia antarctica and the rare tropical Dicksonia arborescens.
- There are three fine specimens of the Himalayan cedar Cedrus deodara, the seeds of which were donated to the gardens in the 1850s by the son of James Watt.
- The main lawn boasts a fine example of the ‘living fossil tree’, Metasequoia glyptostroboides (the dawn redwood) and a copper beech, Fagus sylvatica var. purpurea which is probably an original 1832 planting.
- The core bonsai collection includes the Omeiija Tree, a 250 year old Juniperus chinensis, donated to the gardens by the Japanese city of Omeiija on the inauguration of the collection.
The outer gardens and glasshouses are open to paying visitors 364 days a year. Specific enquiries about the collection can be made by visitors during weekdays or by email to the Plant Collections Manager. Garden advice is only given to members of the society. The library is free and open on Monday and Wednesday mornings throughout the year and on weekends by appointment.
School and college groups are welcome, either self-guided or with a teaching session. Please see our website for details.
Disabled visitors are welcome, mobility scooters and wheelchairs are available for loan and can be booked in advance and most parts of the garden are accessible on all weather surfaces.
The collection is dynamic with between 500 and 1000 accessions being added yearly depending on landscape changes made during the year.
Simon Gulliver, Plant Collections Manager
t: 0121 454 1860 ext 209 e: firstname.lastname@example.org