Things to do | Posted 27 Feb 2012
There are many attractions to visit here such as the Millhouse Park in Sheffield or indeed the wide range of museums in Sheffield to choose from. Today we are going to explore the Botanical gardens. Founded in 1833, the Sheffield Botanical and Horticultural Society wanted to foster self-education and healthy recreation for visitors as they strolled through beautifully landscaped gardens. Designed by the first curator Robert Marnock, the Sheffield Botanical Gardens are laid out in a gardenesque style that was highly popular at the time. Marnock also designed the Royal Botanic Gardens in Regents Park. The concept of the gardenesque style is to display each plant perfectly in a series of scattered plantings. The gardens opened to wide acclaim in 1836. Over the next century, the botanical gardens thrived and receded with the economy of the area. The gardens received extensive damage during World War II. Recent funding and restoration projects have helped the park’s 19 acres reclaim their former glory and adapt to modern requirements. The park now has an aquarium and aviary.

The gardenesque style used in the park’s design layout is a 1820s evolution of Humphry Repton’s picturesque style. This style is characterized by the plantings of flowers, shrubs and trees positioned and managed in such a way as to display the species to their fullest potential. As patrons stroll through the grounds, they experience small scale landscapes that promote variety, beauty and mystery. Many of the architectural features of the original plan, such as tree-planted mounds, dotted island flower beds, large expanses of grass and winding paths, are still evident. This enables the Sheffield Botanical Gardens to remain one of the finest examples of the gardenesque style found in Britain. As a result, the garden’s 15 different display areas provide the perfect, scenic backdrop for the annual Art in the Gardens Exhibition, one of the largest outdoor art and crafts celebrations in the country.

The collections contained within the garden feature a variety of plant specimens from all over the world. Plants on display include over 5,000 species from the Mediterranean, Asia, and the American prairie as well as woodland and rock-and-water varieties. The gardens are the repository of the National Collections of Diervilla, Sarcococca, and Weigela. It is also the site of some of the earliest curvilinear glass pavilions ever built. Designed by B. B. Taylor in 1834, these historic buildings were restored and reopened in 2003. Other structures of note in the garden are the main entrance, the bear pit and the lodge near the south entrance.

The Sheffield Botanical Gardens is a flagship of horticultural excellence that provides free access as it strives to promote education on all levels. If you are staying in one of the near Sheffield hotels make sure you visit the Botanical gardens!

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