Birmingham Botanical Gardens are a beautiful example of 1800s landscaping and gardening. The Chamberlain Highbury Trust is giving a unique tour of the gardens on Saturday 18th May from 10.30 am, well worth a visit.

The tour will be led by senior horticulturalist Wayne Williams and will include the famous Rhododendron Garden, laid out in the 1840s and designed by JC Loudon. It is rhododendron season and so the garden will be on sumptuous display with all flowers in bloom. This event is related to the celebration of heritage rhododendrons at Highbury.

The Chamberlain Highbury Trust was established in 2016 to preserve and restore Highbury, the home of Joseph Chamberlain. The trust was set up to make Highbury accessible to everyone and help it regain its place in Birmingham’s historical and cultural landscape.

The tour will take place between 10.30 and 12.00, finishing up near the Botanical Gardens’ Café where guests are welcome to stop off for a tea or lunch to round off the morning. The tour will cover the heritage and history of the Botanical Gardens. The gardens have four stunning glasshouses showing plants from tropical rainforests, arid deserts and more. There is also a tearoom and gardening gift shop – so if you are taken by any of the plants you see there may be the opportunity to buy a similar one to nurture at home on your own.

The glasshouses are part of a characteristic Victorian park with a bandstand and 15 acres of landscaped greenery. The four houses were built after the gardens were landscaped between 1851 and 1871. The tropical house is the oldest and grows rubber plants, coffee, sugar cane, bananas, and cocoa. There is also a house pool containing huge, colourful koi carp. There is a Mediterranean glasshouse with plants from that area and an arid glasshouse with desert flora. The most exciting glasshouse, in my opinion, is the Subtropical Palm House, the largest of the houses. It has ferns including one that was planted in the 1870s and is still growing. Most interestingly, they have a stunning display of carnivorous plants which are fascinating to see.

This event is a fantastic way to explore a natural treasure of Birmingham. With a guide you will be able to learn a lot more about the plants on show and learn fascinating information about the Botanical Gardens’ history. Tickets are £4.50.

(Image: Sarah Sharp)