In the UK there are dozens of botanical gardens that hark back to a day when it was a sign of prestige for a city to be able to display the best and most incredible specimens of exotic and tropical plant life from all corners of the globe.
One of the finest in the country is Birmingham’s Botanical Gardens, 15 acres and four glass houses showing off more than 7000 plants, trees, shrubs and rare specimens.
The gardens were designed by John Claudius Loudon and opened in 1832, and had employed some of the most sought after botanical plant curators of the 19th Century, and it even hosted the G8 Summit in 1997.
The centrepiece of any botanical garden is the glasshouses, which are often the most beautiful examples of Victorian architecture, great iron structures covered in hundreds of glass panes.
In 1852 the Lily House was built so that they could grow the vast amazon lily, and in fact there’s a photo taken in 1910 that shows the daughter of the curator sitting on one of these enormous tropical plants. This is now the Tropical House, and while it might be smaller than the other buildings it contains the most diverse collection of plants in the garden.
1871 was the year that the Palm house was built, designed by local architect F.B. Osbourne, it’s tall structure built to accommodate the towering palm trees. Now called the Subtropical House its 8 metre peak allows a wide variety of trees to flourish in its balmy temperatures which even in winter does not fall below ten degrees Celsius.
The Mediterranean House is the environment that may be most familiar (and comfortable) for many, home to many citrus plants.
And then there’s the harsh environment of the Arid House. As the name suggests it is a place for plants where in their natural habitat there is little rainfall. Going from the Tropical House to this one is quite the contrast, and can give you a sense of what it must be like in the true harsh environment.
Time for tea
Within the gardens there is a beautiful tearoom where you can enjoy the afternoon, looking out at the impeccably kept landscape within the bustling city.
Many hotels in Birmingham are located just a short walk from here, so even if you are visiting in winter, you can experience the warmth of the glasshouses then wile away the rest of the day over a hot cup of tea.
The Birmingham Botanical Gardens are a cultural experience that should not be missed by any visitor to the city.
Catherine Halsey writes for a digital marketing agency on a range of subjects. This article links back to http://www.radissonblu.co.uk/hotels/united-kingdom/birmingham