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 Coade 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.
Designed by F. B. Osborne it cost £368 and is still in use today, a bargain in anyone’s money!
Sunday Band concerts continue throughout the summer.
NEW TERRACE RANGE 1884
These houses replaced the original glass structure and now house our Arid and Mediterranean collections. The original Holly Bank farm Villa can be seen in the background of this photograph. Exhibition halls behind the visible glass have become our conferencing and entertainment facilities.
THE NETTLEFOLD ALPINE ROCK GARDEN 1895
Designed by the famous Backhouse & Sons of York this English heritage listed rock garden contains 250 tons of millstone grit. The Nettlefold family, local factory owners and screw manufacturers financed the project.
LOCAL PATRONS & BENEFACTORS
The gardens are leased from the Calthorpe Estate. It was instrumental in the establishment and remains a strong supporter of the Botanical Gardens. Many other local families have contributed to the Garden’s continued independence and mission, including the Chamberlains, Martineaus, Nettlefolds and Kendricks.
Development has continued throughout the 20th century including Tea Rooms, Lawn Aviary and new garden features including the Japanese Garden.
The Cadbury Shelter used to be in the grounds of the Cadbury factory in Bournville, and it was allegedly where George Cadbury had his lunch every day away from the hustle and bustle of the office. The building was taken down very carefully, pieces were numbered and then it was re-erected in the Cottage Garden.