These gorgeous gardens are home to nine National Plant Collections as well as an array of mature trees and other floral treasures.
There are more than 8,000 species of plant on display across 40 acres (16 hectares) of scenic grounds in the University Botanic Gardens. A lake, rock gardens and an impressive collection of ancient trees are among the highlights of this picturesque oasis located in the University of Cambridge grounds. Spend the afternoon meandering through the fascinating flora of the gardens.
The site first opened to the public in 1846 and was founded by botany professor John Stevens Henslow. Walk along one of the official trails, which change weekly, depending on the season. There are lots of colorful blooms here to admire, including autumn mandrakes and black widow irises.
Peruse the glasshouses on the north side of the Main Lawn to see plants from tropical regions. There are collections from tropical wetlands, arid lands, mountains and tropical rainforests. The Limestone Rock Gardens, which house specialized rock plants from South Africa and Australia, are also worth checking out. Find a spot on a bench overlooking the lake and enjoy the serene ambience. There is a magnificent fountain that comprises seven large discs shaped like water lily leaves.
Continue to admire the gardens’ plants, trees and flowers from the terrace of the Garden Café, where you can choose from soups, quiches and tarts as well as daily specials. The Botanic Garden Shop sells stationery, toys and gifts relating to gardening.
Take a guided tour for a more detailed understanding of the gardens. It takes about 90 minutes and covers the season’s highlights. You must book several weeks in advance. Alternatively, download the Walking in Henslow’s Garden audio file to an mp3 device and take a self-guided tour.
The gardens are open to visitors daily from morning until late afternoon. If you’re visiting during holiday periods, check ahead as there are closures around Christmas. There is a small entrance fee for adults, while children enter for free and students get discounts.
The University Botanic Gardens is just west of the Cambridge Railway Station near the city center. Use bus services to reach the gardens; there are plenty of bus stops in the area. Be sure to check out the nearby Fitzwilliam Museum and the River Cam while you’re here.