If you want to be immersed in greenery, see plants from all over the world and be amazed by the number of them then Ventnor Botanic Garden (VBG) is the place to go. From the tropical to the traditional, VBG is blooming lovely, especially in the spring and summer months.
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The huge (over 2m) purple/blue and even pink flower spikes of Echiums making millions of flowers in May and June; the majestic Victorian palms and lush tree ferns ; or the pretty borders and secret arbours; you will love VBG. Sheltered beneath the chalk downs, it lies in the microclimate of the ‘Undercliff’, sheltered from the cold northerly winds.
Because of this mild climate Mediterranean plants thrive, such as a grove of olive trees from which the garden make their own olives and the hops that are used to make Botanic Ale. Subtropical plants such as the South American (Sheep Eating) Puya send huge thorny flower spikes, dripping with blue, green, yellow or white blooms, soaring into the air.
Get hot and sticky in the Temperate House and see the amazing large leafed waterlily that only blooms at night. Take a guided walk down the spooky old service tunnel that ran from the sea to the garden, or visit the dark, damp mushroom fruiting chambers beneath the garden.
The Plantation Café has yummy cakes, lite bites with ingredients from the garden such as their mushrooms, herbs and salads and home-made pickles and chutneys. The Edulis Restaurant spills out into the garden, with tables amongst those Echiums, where you can take tea, lunch or just a coffee.
Buy any of the plants you see from the VBG shop or buy their seeds to grow your own. And don’t forget to check out their lovely range of branded goods and local arts and crafts.
Walk on the Wild Side with Free entry for children from Monday 20 February to Friday 24 February
Spot the Signs of Spring Garden Trail - Available daily from 18th - 26th February
Pick up a free trail map from admissions then hunt for the clues!
Fired Art Ceramic Workshop - Monday 20th February, 1 - 4pm in Echium Room. £6 per child
Decorate your own flower pot, squirrel and more & have it fired for you!
Special Garden Tours - Herbal Medicine Tour at 3pm on Tuesday 21st February
Gather in the Herbal Medicine Garden for a Kids Bug Walk at 1pm or
Garden Vegetable & Leaf Printing - Wednesday 22nd February, 1- 4pm in Echium Room. £2 per child.
Get creative with the inspiration of the Garden!
Build Your Own Butterfly Feeder - Thursday 23rd February, 1- 4pm in Echium Room. £3 per child
Build your very own butterfly feeder and create a butterfly paradise if your back garden!
Make Your Own Recycled Bird Feeder - Friday 24th February, 1- 4pm in Echium Room. £1 per child
Get resourceful and make a bird feeder from recycled materials!
VBG Product & Botanic Ale Tastings - Saturday 18th - Sunday 26th February. Free!
Take the chance to try the various exotic flavours from here in the Garden!
- open daily throughout the year
- generally opens at 10:00 - please check the calendar on the left for specific days and times
- 1 hour before closing time
- large car park which is free of charge if visiting Ventnor Botanic gardens and using their facilities
- £5 per car charge applies if leaving the site
- some of the pathways are too steep for wheelchairs but there is a route through the majority of the garden that is accessible for wheelchair users
- 2 lifts within the Visitor Centre
- disabled toilet facilities
- assistance dogs are welcome
- children aged 5 and under are free of charge
- children under 12 will not be admitted without an adult
- baby changing facilities
- outdoor playground
- The Plantation Room Cafe is situated at the top level of the Garden and serves hot and cold drinks and light snacks
- Edulis Restaurant is overlooking the Gardens serving super fresh cuisine sourced locally and picked fresh from the Garden daily
- stocked with a good range of garden themed souvenirs and gifts including locally produced delicious Island fare
- purchase a plant, grown exclusively in the Garden nurseries from Plant Sales in the courtyard outside the Visitor Centre
We hope you enjoy your visit and don't forget to tweet a pic
Tended by a host of volunteers along with the team of gardeners under Head Gardener Chris Kidd, and supported by an army of over 800 'friends', Ventnor Botanic Garden is a verdant riot of plants from all over the globe.
In summer the Pula plants put on an especially good show with their enormous flower spikes – mostly to be seen in the Westgate Arid Garden that was opened by HRH Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall in 2009.
Some of these flower spikes grow over ten feet tall and have emerald green and paler green flowers in between the spikey bracts. Head Gardener Chris Kidd said "It's a bromeliad in the pineapple family and it will flower well into August."
Also in the arid garden are Aloe Polyphylla, a rare and endangered red databook plant, and these too are in flower in summer. Look for their geometric leaf structures and orange flower spikes.
But it is the Echiums, for which Ventnor Botanic Garden is particularly famous. The Mediterranean Garden is absolutely full of their enormous purple, and sometimes pink and blue flower spears that thrust up to forty feet in the air. "These were introduced to the garden in 1988 from Tenerife and have naturalised ever since," said Chris.
You can see smaller versions of the plants in the gardens at the small nursery around the Temperate House or at the shop. Make sure you also pay a visit to the Temperate glass house as it has a unique deserted mine shaft installation and is full of plants that love its humid, hot environment.
Just below here is the olive grove that has been planted over recent years in a program with a Sicilian nursery - one of the trees is thought to be at least 750 years old.
Stairs from the visitor centre descend to the pretty pond terrace, although there is also a lift within the building. On the ground floor of the building is the lovely Edulis Restaurant, while at the top of the visitor centre is The Plantation Cafe is the perfect place for a barista coffee or loose leaf tea and slice of cake.
To the east of the pond terrace is the Palm Court: a survivor from the hospital gardens that has at its centre a palm planted by Queen Victoria. Next as you walk eastwards is the New Zealand Garden, which is frequently used for outdoor theatre and functions in the summer months.
The Hydrangea Dell leads east from here and is a sight to behold in late summer. Tree ferns and the scent of eucalyptus now herald the Australian woodland and scrub bush area that was the brainchild of Chris Kidd and a stunning example of what can be created with a creative imagination. An old coach was buried to produce the high bank that is now planted with 17 different varieties of eucalyptus and below sunken pathways, wooden bridges and ropes give the illusion of a deserted mine.
There is far more to explore than the areas described here: the Japanese gardens, the beautiful borders and semi walled gardens, the vast collection of trees around the grassed park and even the hop garden that is picked to produce Tropic Ale by Yates Brewery. Make sure you don't miss it.
Ventnor Botanic Gardens Address: Undercliff Drive, Ventnor, Isle of Wight, PO38 1UL