The gardens house over 8,000 species of plants and 2,000 trees, ponds and greenhousesLouis Ashworth/VARSITY

The Cambridge University Botanic Garden, a research garden for scientists and a public green space, is celebrating its 175th anniversary with tours and a photography competition for visitors.

The University has had a botanic garden since 1762, but moved to its current site in 1846 under the supervision of botany professor John Stevens Henslow, who was Charles Darwin’s mentor. His aim was to support the growing understanding of botanical science at Cambridge.

Today, the 40-acre gardens house 2,000 trees, ponds and Victorian glass houses recreating seven climate zones, as well as 8,000 species of plants. These plants include a rare Amazon moonflower, a type of cactus which attracted national attention when it bloomed in February.

The Botanic Garden also includes a chronological border, allowing visitors to walk along a growing timeline of plants introduced to Britain over the last 500 years, as well as a scented garden and a dry garden.


Mountain View

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During the November 2020 and January 2021 lockdowns, the Botanic Garden remained open for visitors, with the garden’s curator Dr Sam Brockington describing it as a “safe green space” which was “really affirming” for those able to visit.

Dr Brockington stated that the garden was a “living museum” that “showcases the rare diversity” of its species.

Commenting on the garden’s 175th anniversary, the Botanic Garden director Beverley Glover said, “Parts of it have changed over time and yet it still retains much of its heritage layout, unique design and charm. Our plant collection supports worldwide scientific research and teaching as well as being a source of inspiration for our visitors.”

She said of the garden’s photography competition, “The Garden is such a source of inspiration for so many and there is a lot to see and capture on camera, especially over the coming summer and autumn months. We really hope our visitors will relish exploring the Garden as the lockdown restrictions ease and enjoy seeing it with fresh eyes.”


Mountain View

Rare moonflower blooms in Botanic Garden