Advantages Peacfeful Place In The Heart Of A Bustling City
Disadvantages Closes Quite Early Even During The Summer
|Is it worth visiting?|
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 LOCATIONThe 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 HISTORYThe 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 are currently undergoing a major £6.6 million restoration project which has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and this is finally reaching an end with the final phase due to be completed within the next few weeks, this is why I thought it was quite a poignant time to review this fantastic place.
THE RESTORATION PROJECTThis 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 is concentrating 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 this year. 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.
FACILITIES WITHIN THE GARDENSThe 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.USEFUL INFORMATION
The Botanical Gardens are open during the Summer between 8am and 7.45pm seven days a week. The pavilions are open between 11am and 5pm.During the Winter opening times are 8am to 4pm during Monday to Friday and 10am to 4pm Weekends and bank Holidays. The pavilions are open 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.
CONCLUSIONThe 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.Thank you for reading.
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