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One of my favourite places to go in Cambridge is the University Botanic Gardens. These are located just outside the city centre but you would hardly know that you were in a built up area as these gardens as so peaceful and interesting. I also went on one of my first dates with my now husband here so it does hold really special memories for me.
The gardens are located at:
A few years ago these gardens were free to wander around but then have put the price up to £4 per adult now which is still a good price in my opinion. If you are a student at the university you get in free which I think is perfectly acceptable. The gardens are not large so you can see all they have to offer in an hour or so but there are so many spots where you can just sit and contemplate that you will spend much longer in here than just an hour.
According to their website," Since its opening in 1846, Cambridge University Botanic Garden has been an inspiration for gardeners, an exciting introduction to the natural world for families and a refreshing oasis for all our visitors.
This heritage-listed Garden has been designed for both year-round interest and seasonal inspiration so, whenever you visit, you will find plants to intrigue and enchant.
Like I've said above the garden is just outside the town centre. There are two entrances to the park, the front gate where there is a big ticket booth and a smaller entrance at the back with a small little ticket booth. When you purchase your ticket you will also be given a map to the gardens as well. My favourite part of the garden is the rock garden. Here you will come across a lovely pond with a beautiful rockery around it. There is a bench to one side where you can just sit and enjoy and I have taken some beautiful photographs from around here.
The garden flows in a way which enables you to walk around it in a circular fashion. You can walk around the edge of it and then take little trips in and out of it when you see something you like. There are lots of benches dotted around the garden which are great for spending time on, eating your lunch etc. If I have brought a packed lunch I like to eat it with my little girl by the fountain as there is a big expanse of grass there which she can run around on to her hearts content. There are also some quite big trees so you can take shelter if it gets too sunny or hot or starts to rain!
There is also a cafe located in the middle side of the park. It's basically just a big port-a-cabin with some seating outside and then tables outside too. They do a nice range of sandwiches, drinks, cakes etc and also provide a microwave if you have baby food you need to prepare.
The greenhouses inside the garden are really interesting too with lots of different climates and areas represented. There are tropical rainforest plants, arid lands and carnivore plants to name but a few.
A beautiful oasis in the heart of the city!
My favorite moments in the gardens can't be limited to one area. In busy Cambridge I found solace hidden in the bamboo. Another day we enjoyed getting lost in the paths around the big pond! The unique trees delight stretching out their arms.
Maybe it is only me who expects to see beautiful plants and unique trees and flowers going to botanic gardens? Well, if you do you would be rather very dissapointed visiting Cambridge University Botanic Gardens.
I took my mother about 2 weeks ago there (which comes to late July so I assume not the worst time to be looking after pleasant outside experience!).
The ticket is 4 pounds each, not too bad if you are inspired by the anticipation. But soon enough anticipation ruins once you enter. There are normal trees there, normal grass, normal flowers (lavander and roses) just with the sign on them telling you what it is! Plus there is a very informative garden area with cabbige, dill, parsnip, beetroot etc for you to see how it grows. If that sounds like fun to you (or maybe better to your children) - then it is worth to check out, otherwise do not waste your time and money. There are better things to see in Cambridge!
The Cambridge University Botanic Garden can be found close to Cambridge City centre; initially it comes as something of a surprise to find a peaceful 40 acre garden only a few minutes walk from the railway station. The Garden has an impressive collection of thousands of plant species in a fantastic setting, including a Scented Garden, Lake, a number of Glasshouses, and a mature Woodland Walk.
There is year-round interest at the Botanic Garden; visitors can explore the beautiful Winter Garden, taking in barks, foliage and berries and there is a profusion of spring bulbs and early alpines in the Woodland Garden. During the Summer the Herbaceous Borders, Dry Garden and Scented Garden are worth a visit alone and in the Autumn the late flowers and foliage of the Autumn Colour Garden are impressive.
--- New entrance ---
The first thing that visitors encounter is the Botanic Garden's new 2008 Design Award winning Brookside Gate. This high-profile entrance is a vast improvement on the old Bateman Street entrance and gives the site a presence on the busy Trumpington Road, leaving passers-by in no doubt as to what lies within. A new timber-clad ticket office gives the entrance a contemporary feel and provides services for mobility-impaired visitors.
--- History ---
The Botanic Garden was first conceived as a teaching and research centre by Professor John Stevens Henslow in 1831. The garden was opened to the general public in 1846. Henslow recognised the importance of plants and the need to study them; furthermore he believed that trees had great ecological importance and it is no surprise that a number of large mature specimens form the backbone of the Garden.
--- How to get there ---
Parking is at a premium in the middle of the city. If you have not been to Cambridge before and you plan to come by car the best option would be to park and ride as the Botanic Garden has no car park. I personally use a free car park in Newnham and walk across the common. This car park is a bit of a local secret and can be quite busy, but if you look on Google Maps it can be found on the corner where Barton Road (A603) meets Newnham Road (A1134). The Botanic Garden is just a few minutes walk going East, crossing the river. Visitors travelling by train only have a five minute walk and there are regular buses.
--- Admission and opening times ---
Admission Charges are £4.00 for adults aged 17 - 60 and £3.50 for concessions. Children under 16 go free. The Garden is open 10 am - 6 pm from April to September, 10 am - 5 pm February, March and October and 10 am - 4 pm November to January.
--- Main attractions ---
For many visitors the glasshouses are a great draw. Contained within these structures is an impressive array of tropical plants, including the spectacular Jade Vine which has numerous trailing racemes of bright green flowers around Easter time. There is also a range of Alpine glasshouses with different microclimates from around the world represented.
There is a large Lake and Water Garden, which is buzzing with wildlife, including birds, newts and brightly coloured dragonflies in the Summer. The water theme is further represented by a large fountain in the centre of the Garden which has a large array of flowering aquatic plants and provides a bit of movement and sound to the overall experience.
There is lots of formal planting in the Garden, with the historic Systematic Beds displaying hundreds of flowering plants. The Dry Garden is an experiment in water conservation, using plants that are drought-tolerant. As the name suggests, it is never watered, and relies solely on rainfall for moisture. The Scented Garden needs little introduction, but is one part of the garden that children can really appreciate as it is a lot of fun investigating all the different smells.
For those that like the grand statement, there are a number of areas that have some mature trees, including the previously mentioned Woodland walk, a Pinetum and a procession of Giant Redwoods and Black Pines which line the Main Walk and look spectacular. Some of these large trees were planted in 1846 during the Garden's opening to the public.
--- Sainsbury Laboratory ---
If you visit the Botanic Garden the construction work on the new Sainsbury Laboratory will provide an ever-present background hum on the North side of the garden. When I recently visited I expected this to put a bit of a dampener on the day, but it is surprising how easily you forget it is there. This new complex, opening in 2010, will provide a world-class facility for 120 scientists involved in research in to understanding plant diversity.
With lots of new landscaping, and some conference facilities, including a dedicated visitor centre, this new development promises to become a welcome addition to the Botanic Garden.
--- Refreshments / Shop ---
The Botanic Garden has recently updated its gift shop into a more spacious, welcoming space, with a large selection of tasteful items to buy. Likewise, the café has been replaced with a larger, more accessible area with all the usual drinks and snacks that you would expect to find at an attraction of this type.
--- My opinion ---
The Botanic garden provides a welcome antidote to the busier things that you can indulge in, offering refuge from a hard morning's shopping. At the price I think it represents good value for money and there genuinely is year-round interest, with many different things to see during all four seasons.
There are lots of areas of interest for children, with the Bee Border and fountain being very popular. As mentioned earlier, the Scented Garden can keep children amused for a while and the glasshouses are a great draw. One criticism of the glasshouses is some of the Cactii are within reach of small children, so some supervision is required.
I would definitely recommend the Cambridge University Botanic Garden as it is an attraction that the whole family can enjoy all year round. An impressive array of plants and trees from around the world is on display; check it out.
The Garden has a collection of over 10,000 labeled plant species in beautifully landscaped settings, including Rock Garden, Lake, Glasshouses, Winter Garden, Woodland Walk, and nine National Collections.