PEOPLE wanting to try gardening for the first time or makeover their small outdoor spaces will be able to find inspiration at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, thanks to a new £40,000 feature.
The Gardens, a nationally important and historic attraction in Edgbaston featuring 15 acres of grounds, grade II listed glasshouses and seasonal borders, is transforming the site of a former Hampton Court Flower Show garden into an Urban Garden, with four areas that promise to showcase what can be achieved in a small space.
The project is being developed with the Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens, which has developed and raised funds for the project.
Caroline Clutton-Brock, Chair of the Friends, said the idea is to develop a dedicated area, featuring three small gardens and a balcony to showcase what can be achieved in a small space within a built-up urban environment, that will also be used for demonstrations and activities.
“This may be for individuals who have no access to gardens, people who have downsized or for those who want to start gardening in a small way.
“There is strong evidence to support the beneficial effects of gardens and being outdoors on our well-being and health and the coronavirus pandemic has brought that into sharp relief. The Urban Garden incorporates both leisure and educational aspects and is very much part of 21st-century living.
“We’re excited to see this corner of the Gardens being transformed into something fresh and new, and as an independent charity that relies on memberships, visitors, trading and charitable donations for funding, we’re extremely grateful for the opportunity to be able to deliver it.”
The £40,000 project is supported by a grant of £10,000 from the Calthorpe Residents Society. This is part of the Birmingham City Council’s Local Innovation Fund which was given to the Residents’ Society for the development of a community hub at the Gardens. A further donation of £7,000 has been made by The Property For Kids Trust.
Peter Arnold, chairman of Calthorpe Residents Society, said:
“We are keen to ensure that the Gardens remain a jewel in Birmingham’s crown. By promoting a Centre for Urban Gardening we hope to ensure that all city dwellers find it a place of inspiration and become members of the City’s gardening community.”
A spokesman for Property for Kids added:
“We’re delighted to contribute funds to generate a space where disadvantaged children in the Midlands can visit and learn – the urban garden is perfect for schools and organisations to be able to take them to benefit from this project.”
Thousands of pounds worth of materials have also been secured by award-winning garden designer Martyn Wilson, of Wilson Associates Garden Design, who has been commissioned to design and build the new gardens, from donors including London Stone.
Martyn, who has been awarded gold medals for his designs at RHS Hampton Court Palace, RHS Malvern Spring Festival and BBC Gardeners’ World Live, said the emphasis will be on raised beds, wall planters and pots and using the available space well. He’ll even use a greenhouse in one of the gardens to show that even the smallest areas can benefit from one.
“It’s all about greening up whatever space there is and providing people with the inspiration to see how they can use planters to best effect – especially if they rent a property and would want to take them if they move house.
“We’re trying to make it appeal to different age groups and we know the Gardens’ gardening team will be filling the borders and pots with a range of flowers and crops for all-year interest. It’s going to be another fantastic addition to what is already a beautiful place to enjoy.”
Jason Grubb, of Midlands-based JG Landscape, who is working with Martyn to build the structures, said:
“We are especially excited about the proposed project at The Birmingham Botanical Gardens. It will show the possibilities of what can be achieved in even a very small garden and highlight that you do not need a big area to have some very interesting planting and seating arrangements.
“The Botanical Gardens is not, of course, like your usual domestic garden so it is an amazing opportunity and very exciting to know that thousands of visitors would be able to enjoy the gardens for many years ahead.”
Work has just started on the Urban Garden and completion is expected in the autumn.