Birminghams botanical gardens

Explore Birmingham’s Botanical Gardens

A day spent at the botanical gardens in Birmingham is a day spent among some of the rarest and most colourful plants in the world, as well as some truly stunning winged beauties.

Located just over a mile from the city centre, Birmingham Botanical Gardens offer visitors an oasis of lush greenery and exotic wonders. And it’s not just a destination for plant lovers. The gardens also house an aviary, home to many species of exotic birds, and regularly host concerts, plays and photography events and classes. Join us on a trip through the history and highlights of one of the UK’s finest botanical gardens.

Exploration was very much en vogue in the 17th and 18th centuries, as intrepid men of developed nations embarked on daring journeys to lesser-known spots on the map, seeking adventure, knowledge and wonders to bring home and examine. Among these wonders were many plants that were previously unknown to British horticulturists and botanists. This brought about a newfound interest in exotic plants and the foundation of horticultural societies, which in turn led to the creation of botanical gardens such as Birmingham’s.

Birmingham Botanical and Horticultural Society was founded in 1829 and immediately began sourcing a site for the gardens. Under the guidance of renowned garden planner J.C Loudon, work began in 1830 and the gardens were opened in 1832. The layout of the gardens – with the exception of the glasshouses – is almost identical today to Loudon’s vision. An aviary was added in 1995, shortly before the gardens hosted the G8 summit.
The stars of the show will obviously vary, depending on which time of year you visit the botanical gardens in Birmingham. Spring brings gorgeous explosions of orange blossom, prickly pears and orchids, whereas summer is ideal for carnivorous plants – if you’re brave enough – autumn brings flowering cacti and winter is the time for giant lemons, poinsettia and mimosa. Some of the gardens’ true superstars include the stunning Himalayan cedars beside the fountain, the Wollemi pine – a recent discovery which is incredibly rare in the wild and dates back to prehistoric time – and the regal lily, a flower that almost caused Ernest Henry Wilson to be killed when he was caught in an avalanche while retrieving it. 

There are five glasshouses in the Birmingham Botanical Gardens:

  • The Tropical House simulates the conditions of equatorial regions and is home to indigenous trees, ferns, herbs, climbers and water plants from this part of the world.
  • The Subtropical House is the largest glasshouse, allowing it to accommodate a lot of rare trees and plants that require lower temperatures than the Tropical House. It’s home to the one-of-a-kind tree fern Dicksonia x lathamii.
  •   The Mediterranean House is in the style of Victorian orangeries, which were popular with wealthy families. It’s home to a wide range of colourful flowers.
  • The Arid House is home to plants that grow in dry conditions with low or little rainfall, such as cacti and shrubs.
  • The Butterfly House only opens between May and September and showcases many varieties of butterfly from the Philippines, Central America and African tropics.
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    The Aviary
    Not satisfied with offering a dazzling array of plants from all over the world, the gardens also contain a large number of birds in the aviary, which opened in 1995. The aviary is divided into four parts, with three dedicated to birds from specific parts of the world: Asia, Africa and the Americas. The Asian flight is home to the bizarre and colourful tragopans, the African flight has many varieties of love birds, while the Americas flight contains Quaker parakeets. The fourth flight has an array of soft-billed birds, including starlings, Mynah birds, turacos and monals. Outside of the aviaries, water fowl can be seen by the Wetlands area, while the gardens’ resident cockatoo and blue macaw, Jenny and Lionel, can be found on the terrace. 
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