Home Places to visit Cool gardens: Birmingham Botanical Garden’s tropical house

Cool gardens: Birmingham Botanical Garden’s tropical house

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Heliconia rostrata (lobster claw)
Heliconia rostrata (lobster claw)

Exotic idyll in the heart of Edgbaston

If you’re ever in the Midlands, take a detour to Birmingham Botanical Gardens (you’ll find my original post on the early autumn borders here).

It’s one of the loveliest places I’ve ever visited, especially the glasshouses – I knew I couldn’t do the plants justice in a single post.

The four glasshouses – Tropical, Subtropical, Mediterranean and Arid are obviously arranged in climatic zones and are packed full of plants that are interesting to the non-gardener.

Explaining where tropical zones in the world are and what grows in them
Explaining where tropical zones in the world are and what grows in them

There’s an emphasis on education and pointing out the importance of plants from each region to us – see coffee beans on the plant, taro, various types of banana and the magnificent flowers of the blue ginger.

It’s the first house you step into from the entrance and it’s like being hit in the face by a warm damp rag. Humidity – as well as temperature – is very high.

Take a few moments to get used to the high humidity and wear layers… then enjoy the magnificent specimens of plants we may know as houseplants in a ‘natural’ setting.

It’s a real treat to see well-known plants like Philodendron, Monstera deliciosa (Swiss cheese plant), Codiaeum (Croton) and Hibiscus reaching their full, magnificent potential.

The Tropical House (formerly the Lily House) was the first glasshouse to be built in 1851 at a cost of £800.

Opening hours

  • The Gardens are open every day, except Christmas Day and Boxing Day, from 10.00am.
  • From October to March: Doors close at 5pm (the gardens close at dusk if earlier).
  • Christmas Eve: doors close at 3pm.
  • April to September: Doors close at 6pm weekdays and 7pm weekends (the gardens will close at dusk if earlier).

For more information and special events, visit www.birminghambotanicalgardens.org.uk.

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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.

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