Glasgow Botanic Gardens 1427

Glasgow, Scotland

Brief Description

The Glasgow Botanic Gardens are a public park with strong educational objectives and affiliations. Founded on this site in 1841, the gardens are renowned for their plant collections representing 12,000 taxa, including notable collections of orchids, tree ferns and begonias. Most of the important plants are housed in 19th-century glasshouses, one of which, the Kibble Palace, re-opened after restoration in 2006. There is also a 20th-century arboretum.

History

The Botanic Gardens have developed on their present site since 1841 and plant material largely dates from after this time. The original collection, largely built up by Sir Joseph Hooker between 1821 and 1841, was transferred from the previous garden at Sandyford. The City of Glasgow took over the gardens 1887.

Visitor Facilities

The Botanic Gardens are open daily from 7am until dusk. Facilities within the gardens have more limited opening times.

Detailed Description

The following is from the Historic Environment Scotland Gardens and Designed Landscapes Inventory. For the most up-to-date Inventory entry, please visit the Historic Environment Scotland website:

http://portal.historic-scotland.gov.uk/hes/web/f?p=PORTAL:DESIGNATIONS:0

Location and Setting

The Botanic Gardens are situated in the west end of Glasgow some 2 miles (3km) from the city centre. The site is bounded to the north by the River Kelvin, to the south by the A82, Great Western Road, to the east by Queen Margaret Drive and to the west by the houses on Kirklee Terrace and Kirklee Circus. The surrounding landscape is urban, characterised by elegant 19th century terraces which overlook the Gardens. Lime trees line Great Western Road and, together with those on Kew and Grosvenor Terraces, form an avenue along this important route out of the City. The Kelvin Walkway has recently been established on the banks of the river. The Gardens stand at a height of 131' (40m); the average annual rainfall is 39.81", and the temperature ranges from 17º - 81.5ºF.

The surrounding terraced buildings are visible from within the Gardens. The River Kelvin is significant only from the riverside walks due to the steep wooded banks which separate it from the main body of the Gardens. The Gardens and Kibble Palace are highly significant from the surrounding roads and houses.

The physical boundaries of the main Gardens have been defined. The 2nd edition OS map of c.1898 shows the site to extend east to Queen Margaret Road prior to the realignment of roads in the 1920s when the present Queen Margaret Bridge was constructed. In recent years, the site has been extended across Ford Road at the north- west corner along the banks of the River Kelvin where the Arboretum has been established. The Gardens today extend over some 37 acres (15ha) and include several acres of special gardens.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

The Kibble Palace is listed B. A large part of the present building was originally (1860s) a conservatory in the grounds of Coulport House, Loch Long, home of John Kibble. It is a circular structure, 150' in diameter, connected by a corridor to a small entrance dome flanked by two corridor wings and was built by James Boyd & Sons of Paisley. The architects were James Boucher and James Cousland. It covers an area of 23,000 sq ft and is one of the largest conservatory buildings in Britain. Between 1873-81, concerts were held in the building; the stage was mounted over the pond beneath the main dome. After 1881, the Palace was run totally as a Winter Garden; the pond where a 25 piece orchestra once performed was planted up and, beneath the smaller dome at the entrance, a goldfish pond was made. The north wing is an exhibition area (The Plant Kingdom) and the south wing a visitor centre. Nine statues stand within collection in the Palace.

The Main Range of Glasshouses, listed B as a group, was opened in 1884; their necessary reconstruction contributed greatly to the debts accumulated by the Royal Botanic Institution. They stand to the west of the Kibble Palace and are composed of a series of eleven symmetrical compartments covering some 18,000 sq ft in total, each housing different kinds of plants.

The Curator's House, listed B, was built in 1841 to the design of Charles Wilson. The gate lodges stand at the south-east entrance to the Gardens on Great Western Road. Botanic Gardens Station stood west of the lodges on Great Western Road. It was run as a cafe for some years after the closure of the railway but this ceased after it was destroyed by a major fire in the 1960s. A sundial made for the Gardens in the early 19th century stands in the Herb Garden.

The Gardens

Some 12,000 taxa are maintained in the Gardens. The most important components of the plant collection are housed under glass. Within the Kibble Palace, plants are grouped according to their native geographic habitat. The corridor linking the two domes is devoted to plants from Southern Africa while, around the main dome, plants from Australia, New Zealand, North and South America, China and Japan are represented, as well as from the Mediterranean area. Of particular note is the collection of tree ferns under the central dome, some of which were planted in 1881.

In the Glasshouses the most outstanding collections are of begonias and orchids. The collection of begonias is one of the most extensive in the world. It is largely species begonia, many of which are displayed, ranging from those introduced in the 1880s and earlier, eg Begonia socotrana which became the parent to many winter-flowering varieties, to more recent discoveries such as Begonia Chlorosticta from Borneo. In the Orchid House an exhibition explains their development from seed to flower. A special collection of Dendrobium nobile hybrids and Paphiopedilum species is being amassed which is of international value.

Each of the nine remaining sections in the Glasshouses has its own speciality: Temperate & Tropical Economic Plants, Succulent Plants, Tropical Ferns, Tropical Flowers, and Aquatic Plants. The central section of the Glasshouse is the Palm House in which many tropical plants grow, including Palms. At the east end of the Glasshouse is the Conservatory which provides a display of plants for more horticultural than botanical interest. In addition to these, in another Glasshouse, a collection of filmy ferns is maintained which is also internationally renowned.

The Arboretum lies in the north-west corner of the gardens beyond the Ford Road boundary of the site on the banks of the River Kelvin. It was created in 1977 on the site of the gardens' former rubbish tip. It formed a part the Kelvin Walkway development and is largely based on two collections. The Douglas Collection includes plants introduced by David Douglas who trained at the Glasgow Botanic Gardens (1820-23). The other collection is of Tertiary Relics, ie. those plants known to have been grown during the Tertiary Period but which became almost extinct during the Ice Age, eg. Ginkgo biloba and Cercidiphyllum japonicum. The collections are catalogued and most plants are labeled.

Within the main Gardens, a number of special gardens have been created. The Systematic Garden is situated in the south-west corner. Here plants are arranged according to family for the purposes of botanical study. The Chronological Border lies nearby, where plants are grown according to their date of introduction, each bed being devoted to one century. The Herb Garden, laid out in 1957, lies to the south- east of the Kibble Palace. Medicinal herbs are grown in the central beds and surrounded by beds of culinary herbs. The Demonstration Area next to the Systematic Garden, displays items of horticultural and botanical interest, eg unusual vegetables.

Features
  • Glasshouse
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  • Building
  • Description: The Curator's House is now used as the visitor centre.
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  • Drinking Fountain
  • Description: The Peter Walker memorial, made of granite.
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  • Glasshouse
  • Description: The Euing Range.
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  • Fernery [glasshouse]
  • Description: Filmy fern house.
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  • Sundial
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  • Conservatory
  • Description: The Kibble Palace was moved to its present site in 1873. It was restored between 2003 and 2006.
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  • Sculpture
  • Description: Within the Kibble Palace are several 19th-century sculptures.
  • Gate Lodge
  • Description: The East and West lodges both remain.
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  • Entrance
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  • Specimen Tree
  • Description: A weeping ash transplanted from the previous site of the botanic gardens.
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  • Planting
  • Description: The herb garden was planted in 1957 and re-located around 2000.
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  • Border
  • Description: A chronological border, showing when different plants were introduced to Britain.
  • Rose Garden
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  • Tree Feature
  • Description: Arboretum.
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  • Ornamental Bridge
  • Description: Garrioch footbridge.
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  • Ornamental Bridge
  • Description: Kirklee bridge.
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  • Riverside Walk
  • Description: Kelvin walkway.
  • Ornamental Bridge
  • Description: This wooden bridge replaced the original wrought-iron Halfpenny bridge, which was washed away in 1994.
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  • Ornamental Bridge
  • Description: Queen Margaret bridge, replacing an 1870 structure.
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  • Ornamental Bridge
  • Description: Belmont Street bridge.
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  • Ruin
  • Description: There are partial remains of the North Woodside Flint Mill.
  • Water Feature
  • Description: Weir.
  • Ornamental Bridge
  • Description: The Humpback bridge.
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Palm House, Herbaceous Border, Mill Race
Access & Directions

Access Contact Details

The Botanic Gardens are open daily from 7am until dusk. Facilities within the gardens have more limited opening times.

Directions

The Botanic Gardens are in Kelvinside in Glasgow's West End.
History

Detailed History

The following is from the Historic Environment Scotland Gardens and Designed Landscapes Inventory. For the most up-to-date Inventory entry, please visit the Historic Environment Scotland website:

http://portal.historic-scotland.gov.uk/hes/web/f?p=PORTAL:DESIGNATIONS:0

Reason for Inclusion

Containing an outstanding range of plants, including an internationally recognised orchid collection, Glasgow Botanic Gardens also host the Kibble Palace and make an important contribution to the otherwise urban landscape. Sir Joseph Hooker was Regius Chair of Botany here from 1821 to 1841 before becoming Director of Royal Botanic Garden Kew.

Site History

The Botanic Gardens have developed on their present site since 1841 and plant material largely postdates this time although the original collection was transferred from the previous Garden at Sandyford.

A physic garden had been established within the precincts of the University of Glasgow in 1704 but had become defunct in the early 1800s due to severe pollution. The University wished to establish a new garden for teaching purposes and supported a group of businessmen, headed by Thomas Hopkirk, in the formation of a botanic institution which was to run the new botanic garden. The University's single financial involvement stipulated that the provision of teaching facilities and plant material be in perpetuity.

The new Botanic Gardens were established in 1817 on an eight acre site at Sandyford. (The present Henry Wood Hall is on this site, which is commemorated on the wall of a nearby building). In 1818 a Royal Charter was granted incorporating the Royal Botanic Institution of Glasgow, and the first Regius Professor of Botany, Dr Robert Graham, was appointed. Three years later, in 1821, Sir William Hooker was appointed to the Regius Chair of Botany and for the next twenty years he was largely responsible for the rapid growth of the collection and the esteem in which it was held. He left in 1841 to become Director of the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew. As the collection expanded, growing conditions deteriorated and, in 1839, the present site, part of the Kelvinside Estate, was purchased and the collection was moved there over the next two years. The original glasshouses were transferred. A lecture room was provided for the new Professor of Botany, J.H.Balfour.

In 1871, the 'Kibble Palace' opened on this site, following a 21 year agreement between the Royal Botanic Institution and John Kibble, as a concert hall and meeting place. Rectorial addresses were given there by Gladstone and Disraeli. In 1881, the building was converted to a Winter Garden following a loan from Glasgow Corporation to the Royal Botanic Institution which enabled them to buy out John Kibble's interest in the building for #10,000. Due to deterioration in the financial circumstances of the Royal Botanic Institution, Glasgow Corporation took over the Gardens as creditors in 1887. At that time, they were not within the City boundary but the City of Glasgow Act of 1891 overcame this problem and full control was then transferred to the Corporation, who were bound to maintain them as a public park and botanic garden, as well as continuing the interests of the University.

Period

  • Mid 19th Century
Associated People
Contact
References

References

Contributors

  • Historic Scotland