Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England, S10 2LN
Tel/Fax: (0114) 2676496
Opening Dates and Times: All year
Daily (except 25th December)
Open 10am to dusk.
Public Admission: Entrance free „
Sheffield is the fifth largest city in England in terms of population but it is also one of the greenest cities in the country. I remember reading a few years ago that there were more parks and recreational areas within the urban boundaries of Sheffield per square acre of its total area than other city in England and any visitor to the city will probably vouch for this.
The four largest parks in the City: Graves Park, Norfolk Park, Hillsborough Park and Endcliffe Park cover an area of over 300 hectares but there are actually 75 different public parks within the City, plus hundreds of public gardens and recreational spaces, and many of these are right in the heart of the city centre. One such oasis situated right in the heart of the city is the Sheffield Botanical Gardens which is a place where you can quite literally step off one of the busiest roads in the city and walk into a tranquil area of woodland and gardens.
The main entrance to the Botanical Gardens is located just off Ecclesall Road (The A61) on Clarkehouse Road whilst there is a second smaller entrance on Thomson Road near Ecclesall. I normally enter the gardens via the main entrance which has recently been renovated to resemble the original Victorian entrance which once graced this area, as this is the closest to where I live and also the nearest one to the City Centre being just a few minutes walk from the bottom of the Moor, which is the main pedestriansised shopping area of Sheffield.
The Botanical Gardens were designed by Robert Marnock, one of the most outstanding horticulturalists and garden designers of the 19th century. It first opened to the public in 1836. The gardens themselves cover an area of 19 acres and contain the largest number of listed buildings within the Sheffield area. The Botanical Gardens have recently undergone a major £6.6 (9.9) million restoration project which was funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
This began in 1997 and was split between three different phases:
Phase One of the restoration project concentrated on the restoration of the Curator's House, the South Lodge and the Gatekeeper's House. At that time all of these three Grade 11 listed buildings were in ruins and completely derelict. Today they have been fully restored back to how they originally were in Victorian times and they are once again being used.
Phase two of the project concentrated on the restoration of the glass pavilions. This was a major task as the pavilions were in quite a poor condition and the "ridge and furrow sections" which once connected the three main domes had completely disappeared, the domes themselves had been derelict and closed for a number of years. These curvilinear glass pavilions are some of the earliest ever built and are listed as grade 11. Today they have been restored to their former glory and planted with collections of plants which represent the various temperate regions of the world.
Completion of the first two phases of the project culminated with the official re-opening of the pavilions by HRH Prince Charles on 1st September 2003.
Phase three concentrated on reforming the landscaped areas within the park. The bulk of this work was completed in the Autumn of 2004 with the remaining work and further planting continuing throughout the rest of that year and through until the Spring of 2005.. This work also improved the drainage and paths within the park and also restored the "Pan Statue", the "Bear Pit" and "Fossil Tree".
Several distinctive areas have been created, each one reflecting a different type of landscape or botanical theme. These new areas are as below:
The Four Seasons Garden - This provides a continually changing display all year round.
Birch Hill - This features a wide variety of different types of Birches which have been added to the existing collection and under-planted with masses of spring bulbs.
The Main Lawns - These are grade II listed landscape and have been restored to their original 'gardenesque' style, which features curving bed shapes and semi-natural planting arrangements.
The Mediterranean Climate Garden - This area has been transformed into mounds of low-growing plants with gravel paths winding between them. Plants here include Lavender, Rock Roses, Rosemary and Verbascums.
The Rose Garden - The original layout has been reinstated and planted with a wide range of different traditional, modern and climbing roses. The roses have been under planted with herbaceous plants.
The Asia Garden - This is an impressive display of trees and shrubs from the Far East and the Himalayas which includes Rhododendrons, Fuchsias and Callicarpas.
The Evolution Garden - This is an educational Garden and shows how plants have developed from primitive life forms, it includes Ferns and Mosses, a Monkey Puzzle Tree and a new pond. The 'fossil tree' has also been relocated here.
Osborn's Field - New tender plants and modern cultivars have been planted here to take advantage of this sheltered, sunny location.
The Marnock Garden - This garden uses the theme 'Ideas to take home', the area demonstrates new Gardening ideas including planting styles, garden features and garden management approaches.
The Rock and Water Garden - Using the theme 'Ideas to take home', this area will demonstrate new gardening ideas including planting styles, garden features and garden management approaches. New planting has enhanced the restored ponds, with particular emphasis being placed on local plants that are native to the Peak District and this surrounding area.
The Award of Garden Merit (AGM) Border - This garden features plants that have been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society accolade for excellence.
The Woodland Garden - This area has been transformed from a dark and gloomy place into a beautiful woodland garden. Planting here cleverly demonstrates the different canopy layers found in woodland and shows the effects of coppicing ornamental shrubs on the ground flora.
The Prairie Garden - This area has yet to come into its prime but swathes of meadow plants and grasses which have been established from seed sown in 2004 will eventually give a naturalistic prairie effect, which will provide a changing display throughout the year.
The Gatekeeper's Inn is now used the main Information point within the Park. It is situated just inside the Clarkehouse House entrance. It is open Monday - Friday between 9am and 1pm.
The Curator's House is now used as a Restaurant and Tea Room which offers light refreshments during the daytime and fine cuisine during the evenings. I have not actually eaten here so can comment further but it is open between 10am and 4pm in the Winter and 10am to 5pm in the Summer, seven days a week. Evening opening hours are 7pm to 11pm Tuesday to Sunday throughout the year.
The Glass Pavilions are licensed for civil weddings and also available for hire for corporate events. The capacity is 100 people.
Toilets are located beside the Curator's House, these are however only open during the daytime at the same time as the Tea Rooms. Disabled toilets are also available here too.
The Botanical Gardens are open daily throughout the year. However there are some areas that are sometimes locked off, including the area around the Pavillion. During the Summer this area is open between 8am and 7.45pm seven days a week. The Pavilions are open between 11am and 5pm.
During the Winter the opening times of this area are from 8am to 4pm during Monday to Friday and 10am to 4pm Weekends and Bank Holidays. The Pavilions are open from 11am to 3.30pm every day.
There is no parking inside the Park but Parking is possible just outside both entrances.
Bicycles are not allowed within the park and cycle stands are available at both entrances.
Wheelchair access is possible throughout the park although the ground does slope gently so care should be taken.
Access to all areas is completely free.
The Botanical Gardens are a fantastic place and a real tranquil green oasis within the city. I find that this is a great place to escape to and I love to sit here on the grass with my friends during the Summer watching the Squirrels play.
If you ever get the chance I would definitely recommend that you pay this place a visit.
Sheffield is a leafy city outside the old industrial areas. Around the university and in the areas of Crookes, Walkley and Netherthorpe there are some large parks and fishing lakes. These areas allow my girlfriend and myself to get away from the noise and hustle of the city. Among these areas is the Botanical gardens, a walled off park that has been around since the Victorian age. This area really epitomises what a peaceful and horticulturally varied a real public garden should be. There are two entrances to the gardens, a small gate at the bottom of the park leading on to Thompson Road near Ecclesall, and the second being the main entrance on Clarkehouse Road. This main entrance has been renovated to resemble the original Victorian entrance. This comprises of a Sandstone built wall with the gatehouse built in the shape of a Neo-classical regency-style and provides the walk way into paradise. It all adds to the grandeur of entering the park and sets the scene once you enter this unspoiled parkland. Once inside the park you can see why it has been awarded it 2.5 million lottery grant to aid its regeneration. The park has definitely been set with both relaxation and recreation in mind. It has two main parts, the upper half being open fields with planted beds of Roses, Fuchsias and the occasional dominant oak tree. The lower half is the more wooded and plant dominated area with a wetland habitat and some specialist plant areas. All have been tendered lovingly by the hard working gardeners. As I have already mentioned the park has been awarded lottery money but this is only half the money they need, the rest is being fund-raised. On two boards by either entrance they have set out what is going to be the intended use for with the money. As well as the regeneration of the gatehouse, they also want to turn the park back to how it was first set out and regenerate the old greenhouse that stands a the very top of the Gardens. This g
reenhouse would be truly a worthwhile project. The Victorian ironwork still stands in place marking the shell of the three separate greenhouses that were originally joined by a colonnade. Nowadays the colonnade is covered in climbing rose and honeysuckle and bordered by Rhododendron. If the Greenhouses were renovated this would add a excellent dimension to a visit here and would act as an prominent and spectacular centrepiece for the park. The Gardens are completely free to enter and open almost everyday, even bank holidays, but they do close around 8 o'clock so don't get locked in. All ages can enjoy the grounds. Young kids are regularly brought to the gardens by the local primary schools to be taught on one of the Gardens educational days. However, I would think that they would be more intrigued by the ever-present grey squirrel population, as I was being a kid at heart. The squirrels are very tame compared to many others I have met and will easily come up and take a monkey nut from your hand if you remain still enough. I love to spend an hour or so doing this, and so do most of the kids. The park is also used by the older students who on hot days can be seen on the fields working through their studies or playing Frisbee. This is especially so on Bank Holidays and weekends were if the sun is hot enough the park can fill up quite rapidly. I wouldn't, however, expect to play football as this can both disturb the people around you as well as the careful tendered plants. Also the old people love to come and walk around the gardens as the air is both very fresh and Urban life seems completely devoid, most of the buildings and noise being masked by trees or the walls. There is also a café with an outdoor seating area that serves both drinks and hot lunches. Overall the gardens are a natural beauty among the chaos of Sheffield, and definitely somewhere to visit and see the hard work that has been put into it. There is something f
or everyone, from those who want to stretch out on the lawns and relax to those who want to come and see the horticultural life. I love going to the parks as the tranquillity and the pleasure of seeing the squirrels can make even dreary days brighter. This is definitely a place to stop at if you're in Sheffield.
The Sheffield Botanical Gardens have been hidden away from most sightseers and daytrippers who huslte and bustle past the hidden entrance just off Ecclesall Road on thier way out westwards towards the Peak District. As you travel along Ecclesall Road from the city centre out towards the suburbs, on the righthand side, just before the Tesco store set in Berkeley Shopping Precinct you'll find the grandeur iron gated bottom entrance to the most tranquil of green patches in Sheffield. Stretching over many many acres, hidden behind high walls and Victorian Terraced Villas, the Botanical Gardens is a host to an enormous variety of plants, flowers and shubbery set out in a variety of parkland areas, with excellent access to all areas, esp for the disabled. The driveway opens out into a medium sized lawned green area where numerous people tend to pause and breathe in the calming atmosphere. The tree lined paths are lit by sky light mottled by the emerald canopies high above your head. The gardens grower wider the higher you climb up the gentle slope, and around every corner there's another surprise in store for you. Whether it's the wonders of nature....squirrels feeding from your hand...or the beauty of landscaped gardens...or the poignant reminders of history like the statue of Queen Victoria, or the splendid structures of the Victorian Glass Houses that stand at the very high point of the Botanical Gardens, there are a number of things that really do relax you; sending you into a tranquil calm state, and easing you through the day. Every plant and shrub is labelled as to what it is - mainly in Latin. There is a grand tree stump fossil on display within the gardens, and the Bear Pit is not to be missed! (A Victorian round bulding which may, or may not have housed two bears at sometime in the past....). There is also a beautiful bronze statue Peter Pan in the gardens hidden in the middle of a formal rose garden...a much
loved statue with Peter Pan's foot being very much burnished and shiny compared to the rest of the statue because of its touchy-feelyness loved by many a small child and adult alike! A recent change to the BG has been the revamping of the top entrance standing at Clarkehouse Road (short walking distance from the Royal Hallamshire Hospital and Broomhill). It has been lovingly restored and updated as well giving a new cleaner and smarter entrnace way to the open lawned end of the Gardens. There is also now a restaurant opened in what used to be the Head Gardener's house. The range of food is excellent, and prices are very reasonable as well. So, having been a resident of Sheffield for the last 31 years, and having grown up from being a toddler taking his first steps in the Botanical Gardens to now being a father of one, I thought it was about time to share my secret love and joy......................