Botanic Gardens to visit in the UK

Botanic Gardens are not unique to the UK, but it does have some of the best botanic gardens in Europe. These gardens often started as gardens of medicinal plants, cultivated for use by physicians, and as a way to scientifically study plants from around the world – many of which were sent on long ship journeys from far-flung and exotic locations. Today, many of these gardens have been preserved and updated, and represent a fantastic day out – even if you’re not all that interested in gardening.

National Botanical Garden of Wales

This is a truly stunning garden, and worth every minute of journey time it takes to get there.

The National Botanical Garden of Wales is a huge and beautifully designed garden set in over 2000 acres of historic country estate, which includes a large area still used productively by local farmers.

The garden has a fascinating history which has seen it literally rise from the ashes.  This breath-taking garden boasts the World’s largest single-span glasshouse measuring some 110m long and 60m wide. This Botanic garden is large and interesting enough to merit a visit of several days, so it may be worth planning a long visit to the area, as it is set in the beautiful western part of Wales.

National Botanic Garden of Wales
Middleton Hall
SA32 8HN

Visit the website

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Royal Botanic Gardens Kew is seen as a gold-standard for botanic gardens around the world. It has a rich history and the massive 326 acre site includes 40 historically important buildings.

Perhaps the most well-known feature of this garden is the large array of glasshouses, including beautifully maintained Victorian glasshouses, as well as a number of well-stocked modern ones.

This garden inspires 2 million visitors annually, who gaze on the magnificent outdoor gardens, tropical rainforests, deserts and displays of orchids from around the world. Kew Gardens is not only a beautiful garden to visit, but is also heavily involved in work supporting worldwide biodiversity and conservation of natural habitats, as well as hosting a vast array of resources for horticultural and botanical studies.

Royal Botanic Gardens Kew


Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Perhaps not famous for its Botanical Gardens, this city still has an excellent garden which is well worth a visit if you are in the area. Home to more than 7000 species of plants, the Birmingham Botanical Gardens is based heavily on its Victorian roots, with traditionally designed gardens, themed gardens and a 250 year-old bonsai Juniper tree to boot. Stretching over 15 acres, this substantial and well-stocked garden has four impressive glasshouses, with a wide array of plants from around the world.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Westbourne Rd, Birmingham B15 3TR, UK

Visit their website.

Cambridge Botanical Gardens

The Botanical Gardens to Cambridge cover a remarkable 40 acres, and is home to over 8000 species of plants. The garden is set out in a well-designed and pleasing format, with several themed gardens, and wonderful glasshouses. Closely linked with the famous Cambridge University, the gardens still play an important part in the field of plant science.

Cambridge Botanical Gardens

1 Brookside, Cambridge CB2 1JE, UK

St Andrews Botanical Gardens

This tiny ‘city’ on the coast of Fife, Scotland, is known by many as the ‘home of golf’ and is also home to one of the world’s most prestigious universities, (the University of St Andrews).

The Botanic Gardens are one of the city’s best kept secrets, with many people being entirely unaware of their existence.

In a tucked-away location this relatively compact botanic garden stretches over 18 acres. It has a surprising array of glasshouses, with substantial plant collections of over 8000 species from around the world, including special collections from China and Chile, as well as collections of shrub species such as Cotoneaster, Berberis and Sorbus. The alpine house is beautifully curated, and the Tropical Butterfly House is an unexpected delight on a wet Scottish day.

St Andrews Botanical Gardens

Canongate, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 8RT

Visit the website.

Sheffield Botanical Gardens

The home of British steel is also home to a charming botanic garden in an original Victorian style. Complete with exquisitely designed glasshouses, and a home to the national collection of several genus of Shrub, this garden is unbelievably packed into a 19 acre site.

Sheffield Botanical Gardens

Clarkehouse Rd, Sheffield S10 2LN, UK

Visit the website.

Lost Gardens of Heligan

A legendary garden with a rich history, this real-life secret garden consists of 200 acres from a previously 1000 acre grand estate which was originally planted in the Gardenesque style.

It was one of the finest gardens in the country until the First World War, when the staff who had tended it were sent to Europe to fight.

They never returned, as soon the gardens had become overrun by brambles, neglected by a disinterested owner, and largely forgotten by the local population.

Eventually a volunteer-led effort brought the lost gardens back to life, restoring much of the original garden, with fresh plantings and rebuilt greenhouses. This epic garden is home to the National Collection of Camelia and Rhododendron, and is like stepping through another realm.

Lost Gardens of Heligan

B3273, Pentewan, Saint Austell PL26 6EN, UK

Eden Project

A tremendous project, and one of the few gardens that was started in modern times. Originally an old china clay mining pit set in an area of Cornwall which has been used for mining for many centuries, this garden was constructed with a clear vision for promoting education and conservation.

This awe-inspiring garden includes nearly 6 acres under cover – primarily in the massive plastic domes which are constructed from individual plastic cells set in a steel frame.

The garden is organised into distinct biomes, including a massive outdoor biome with many themed gardens including a ‘Wild Cornwall Garden’. Hosting over 1 million visitors every year, The Eden Project has also been the venue for the World Pasty Championships.

Eden Project

Bodelva, Cornwall PL24 2SG, UK

Chelsea Physic Garden

Nestled in the heart of London, this garden was originally created by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries in 1673. The original site has eroded over the years due to urban development, and now occupies 3.5 acres. The Chelsea Physic Garden is home to medicinal and edible plants from around the world.

In 1682, the garden formed a seed exchange partnership with the Hortus Botanicus Leiden, Netherlands, which has continued to the present day. This seed exchange program led to the introduction of Cotton to the then-colony of Georgia in North America, and the world-wide introduction of the Madagascar Periwinkle, which is used as a source of four drugs used to fight cancer.

Chelsea Physic Garden,

Curators House, 66 Royal Hospital Rd, Chelsea, London SW3 4HS, UK

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