2020 has helped us learn to appreciate the beautiful places closer to home.
We’ve all been heading into nature more, admiring vibrant floral displays and breathing in the earthy scents. And, what better place to continue this than in the West Midlands.
From show-stopping spring flower beds at Birmingham Botanical Gardens to stunning autumn shades at Winterbourne and the tranquil greenery of Middleton Hall, there’s a garden to explore no matter the season.
Here are four of the best gardens in the West Midlands for you to explore.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Image credit: Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Situated in Edgbaston, the 15-acre site is one of Birmingham’s best attractions. And its vast array of unusual plants and extensive history help it to live up to this bold claim.
Following the introduction of new and unknown plants to Britain in the 18th and early 19th centuries, Birmingham Botanical and Horticultural Society was established in 1829, and later created the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.
The Gardens were designed by Scotsman and leading garden planner and horticultural journalist J. C. Loudon and opened to Society members in 1832. The layout of the Gardens remains much the same today.
At its heart is a Victorian public park, complete with bandstand, surrounded by landscaped greenery. A large lawn, with flower beds and shrubberies hugging its perimeter, sits in front of the four stunning glasshouses.
These include the exotic Tropical House through to the Subtropical, Mediterranean and Arid Houses, which are home to many unusual plant species.
You can see more than 7,000 species of plants, including the Dicksonia X lathamii – a rare hybrid fern exclusive to the garden – along with fossil trees from the dinosaur era, such as the Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobilis) and the maidenhair tree (Ginkgo biloba).
Find out which plants are best to see during each season.
Or why not take a stroll around one of the specially designed seasonal walks and immerse yourself in the plant collection?
Also on offer at the historic gardens are herbaceous borders, an Alpine yard, a bamboo maze, a woodland walk, a butterfly border, a herb garden, shrubberies and rockeries, an exotic bird collection, wildlife areas and the Japanese and bonsai garden.
Plus, for younger visitors, there’s a children’s discovery garden—view a map of the Gardens.
- Location: Westbourne Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 3TR
- Opening times: 10am-5pm October-March, 10am-6pm weekdays and 10am-7pm weekends April-September, except for Christmas Day and Boxing Day
- Price: Family £19.80, Adult £6.75, Concession £4.72
- Facebook: @BirminghamBotanicalGardensUK
- Twitter: @BhamBotanicalGd
- Instagram: @bhambotanicalgardens
Winterbourne Botanic Garden
Image credit: Greg Milner
Nestled in a leafy corner of Birmingham is an Edwardian historic house and garden. The botanical garden of the University Of Birmingham, which spans seven acres, is one of the few surviving examples of an Arts and Crafts suburban villa garden.
Grade II listed, it was lovingly created by the homeowners, Margaret and John Nettlefold, who took inspiration from Gertrude Jekyll’s books.
Keen gardener John MacDonald Nicolson was the last private owner of the house. He built on the existing foundation of the garden and added features including a Japanese Bridge and a scree garden.
When he passed away in 1944, he left the house and garden to the University. New areas for teaching and plant conservation have since been developed within the historic layout.
Today, as well as being open to the public for everyone to enjoy, the garden is still used as a place of study and relaxation for students.
Image credit: Greg Milner
No matter what time of year you visit the garden, there’s something spectacular to see.
From May until October, the restored walled garden presents an array of rainbow colours. Meanwhile, you can enjoy a picnic on the lawned areas, which are edged with vibrant colour-themed borders.
Following a picnic, you can join the nut walk, lime walk or woodland walk which takes you through marvellous Gunnera leaves and Rhododendron displays.
These aren’t the only plants you can see; visitors can find 3,000 plant species from around the globe, including collections of plants from China, North and South America and the Alpine areas of the world.
Also available to explore are the glasshouses and alpine garden, an original sandstone rock garden, a hazelnut tunnel, plus a terrace tea room, gallery and bookshop. View a map of the garden.
- Location: University of Birmingham, 58 Edgbaston Park Road, Birmingham, B15 2RT
- Opening times: 10.30am-4pm, 7 days a week with a short closed period around Christmas and New Year
- Price: Family £22, Single £7.20, Concession £6.20
- Facebook, Twitter & Instagram: @winterbournehg
Middleton Hall & Gardens
Image credit: Middleton Hall and Gardens
Covering 42 acres of land, the Staffordshire-based Middleton Hall and Gardens has a rich and colourful horticultural history spanning over 1,000 years.
The eighteenth-century Grade II-listed Walled Garden originally grew food for the estate. It still boasts original heated walls which are among the oldest of their kind.
The hall has been home to many residents including two famous naturalists, John Ray and Francis Willughby, to whom the herb garden, within the Walled Garden, is now dedicated to. The gardens are now cared for by a small professional garden team and volunteers who helped save the Hall and Gardens from dereliction in the 1980s.
Decorative wrought iron gates act as the entrance to the Walled Garden, followed by a wisteria rose and clematis-laden pergola which leads you into the garden to reveal a colourful Georgian bed design and a central pond with a fountain.
Mature shrubs and espaliered fruit trees line the walls of the garden which also contains a black mulberry and apple trees that are more than 200-years-old.
A vegetable patch and original bothy are situated in the corners, and the adjoining Herb Garden contains a small Knot garden and a working Smithy.
The peaceful gardens also feature a heritage orchard and a short lakeside walk through seasonal displays of snowdrops, daffodils and bluebells. A game of croquet can be played upon the West Lawn.
Take a virtual walk through the Walled Garden.
- Location: Middleton, Tamworth, Staffordshire, B78 2AE
- Opening times: 11am-4pm every Wednesday to Sunday, until Sunday 27th September. From October, 11am-4pm Saturdays and Sundays (except for Saturday 17th October).
- Price: Adult £6.00, Free for under 16s
- Facebook: @MiddletonHallandGardens
- Twitter: @Middleton_H_G
Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens
Image credit: Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens
Located just five miles from Birmingham City centre, Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens is a rare example of a 17th-century Jacobean country house complete with its original garden setting.
In approximately 1599, Castle Bromwich Hall was built for Sir Edward Devereux. It has since had several owners, including Sir John Bridgeman II who made significant developments to the Gardens. The house and gardens are now owned separately.
The Gardens are special because they survived and continued to develop when the informal 19th-century English Landscape Movement saw the removal of most other formal gardens.
When the Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens Trust launched in 1985, the Gardens were still completely walled and their basic structure intact, albeit derelict. The Trust took ownership of the Gardens and restored them to the period 1680-1762, a time when the formal Gardens were considered to be at their prime.
Image credit: Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens
Now covering 10 acres, the Walled Garden contains hundreds of species of plants from the era, and they have a strict policy that only plants available in 1762 are used.
Additionally, there’s a much-loved holly maze, gift shop and coffee shop. Woodland walks are held every day during the summer, while the Gardens often host special events including Yoga sessions followed by a cream tea and live theatre performances on the Archery Lawn.
As the Hall is run as a hotel and owned separately, the Trust aims to visually reunite and regenerate the Hall, Gardens and Parkland so that it can be enjoyed by many generations to come.
- Location: Chester Road, Birmingham, B36 9BT
- Opening times: 10.30am-4.30pm, Wednesdays to Sundays
- Price: Adult £4.50, Concession £4.00, Children £1.00
- Facebook: @CastleBromwichHallGardens
- Twitter: @cbhallgardens
- Instagram: @castlebromwichhallgardens