The gardens were designed by the pioneering designer of public open spaces Scotsman John Claudius Loudon. He was a prolific author of gardening books and magazines and had a vision for long term planning to provide green spaces in the rapidly growing cities of Britain. In 1832, Loudon established the design theory entitled Gardenesque. In this style, attention was given to the individual plant and placement in the best conditions for them to grow to their potential. Loudon’s wife was from Birmingham and it was natural for the society to turn to him, the leading designer of his day, to create the landscape for the garden. Loudon proposed the construction of a dramatic glasshouse, but a rather more modest range built by the local firm John Jones & Co. was built which can be seen in this illustration from 1855.
PALM HOUSE 1871
The Palm house designed by F. B. Osbourne a local architect gave much needed height enabling palms and tree ferns to be added to the collection.
THE FOUNTAIN 1850
The Fountain (which is the garden’s current emblem) was designed by local architect Charles Edge. It is made of Code Stone, an artificial stone much favoured in Victorian England and very resistant to acid rain. The fountain currently consists of its first tier only, we are keen to restore it to its original glory.
LILY HOUSE 1852
Now our Tropical house, the Lily House was added in 1852 to grow the great Amazon water lily, hence its low roof line. The photograph dates from 1910 and shows the then Curator Thomas Humphries’ daughter balanced precariously on a leaf of the plant.