"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Winterbourne House Gardens

I first discovered Winterbourne House and Gardens, located at the University of Birmingham, a couple of years ago and was entranced by the magical gardens. I've been meaning to pay a return visit ever since and today when chauffeuring E around I was in the locality with an hour to spare and decided to finally revisit.

Winterbourne is a rare surviving example of an early twentieth century villa and garden in the style of the Arts and Craft movement. The house was built in 1903 for John and Margaret Nettlefold of Guest, Keen and Nettlefold (GKN). It was designed in the style of a small country estate. Margaret designed the garden having been inspired by the garden design and books by Gertrude Jekyll.

The last owner was a John Macdonald Nicolson who developed new garden areas such as a scree garden and alpine area. He died in 1944 and left the House and Garden to the University of Birmingham.

The Botanical Gardens (used today by students at the University) cover 7 acres and contain 6000 plant species from all around the world.

The Walled Garden

Alpine plants appear throughout the gardens.


The plant in the photo below reminds me either of a Triffid or the man-eating plant in "The Little Shop of Horrors"!!

Cyclamens carpeting a woodland floor

The first snowdrops I have seen this year

Nut Walk

This area of the Gardens is called "The Geographics"

There were several Witch Hazels in flower - I'd love one of these in my garden but they are very expensive to buy.

Woodland Walk

Japanese Bridge

Old Garden Office

It was a shame I had so little time (to allow for travelling time) I only spent about half an hour there and you need several hours to explore the gardens properly. There is also access from the gardens to a Nature Reserve with woodland and a pool which I missed last time. Fortunately the ticket I purchased today is valid until the end of March so I plan to go back when it gets a little warmer and I have more time to spare.

If you do want to see more photos of the gardens in the summer I did a post in August 2011 which should be easy to find in the archive section on the right hand side of the blog - sorry no point in trying to insert a direct link as I can never get them to work. I also took some photos inside the house during that visit.


Countryside Tales said...

It looks a very interesting place. I'd like a witch hazel too. Lovely weather by the looks of it when you went. Everywhere is looking very clean after all this rain :-)

Ragged Robin said...

Countryside Tales - Thank you :) The gardens there are lovely and it was wonderful to see some blue sky for a change :)

Dartford Warbler said...

What a beautiful garden, and how cheering to see snowdrops and witch hazel in bloom!

We have tried to grow witch hazel but it doesn`t seem happy here. I love its sweet scent in a winter garden.

Wendy said...

Winterbourne House Gardens looks a fascinating place with so much to see. I love botanical gardens, when I've visited cities abroad I've always visited the botanical gardens there(if they have them!) The different cyclamens are beautiful.

Ragged Robin said...

Dartford Warbler - Many thanks. The Witch Hazels were a real highlight of the visit for me :)

I discovered when I got home and found a map from my last visit that I missed the Winter Garden :(

Wendy - Many thanks. Yes I enjoy Botanical Gardens too - there is a lovely one at Ventnor if you are ever on the Isle of Wight.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens are only a few miles from Winterbourne - but the entrance fee is a lot dearer. I haven't been to the Bham one since the children were little. But I may try and go there too this summer as I think they now have a Butterfly House :)

David (Wold Ranger) said...

What a lovely winter garden and an equally lovely account of your visit. This time of year when the weather is sunny is one of my favourite times to explore such places, especially walled gardens what with their warm micro-climates :-)

I too wish I could plant some Witch Hazels in our garden, not only for their beautiful flowers but also their scent which is particularly welcome at this time of year as most winter/early spring flowers seem to be scentless.

It will certainly be interesting to see the garden again later in the spring :-)

Margaret Adamson said...

HI RR What a fascinating place to wander round and you have captured many wonderful photographs for us to see. They have a wide selection of plants and of course the Witch HAzel is lovely at this time of year.

Ragged Robin said...

David (Wold Ranger) Many thanks David for your lovely comment :)

It was good to revisit these lovely gardens. I really hope I can find the time to try and go each season this year - they really are rather magical :)

The scent of the Witch Hazels was beautiful :) There were quite a few scattered round the part of the garden I managed to visit :)

Margaret Adamson Thanks so much Margaret - so glad you enjoyed the post and Witch Hazel :)

Em Parkinson said...

I dream of cyclamen carpeting somewhere in the garden but I fear it will never happen! Lovely post - thank you.

Ragged Robin said...

Em Parkinson - Many thanks :) Have no luck here with cyclamen - buy, plant and they disappear never to be seen again :( Similar problems with Snowdrops and Aconites too :(

SeagullSuzie said...

What a lovely place to visit-you do seem to find some great spots. I hope you can plan your next visit with much more time for you, and enjoy the lovely gardens in spring.

Ragged Robin said...

SeagullSuzie - Many thanks :) I shall make sure I pick a day when I'm entirely free so I can spend a good few hours there :) There is a tea room too :)

Pete Duxon said...

looks a lovely garden!

Ragged Robin said...

Pete Duxon - Thanks Pete. The gardens are lovely and well worth visiting :)

Chris Rohrer said...

I would love to have a Green house attached to my place. This place has a nice selection of plants and it's definitely worth the visit.

Ragged Robin said...

Chris Rohrer Thanks Chris. Yes, I would love a greenhouse too. I shall try and return to Winterbourne when I have more time!