The Botanic Gardens in Sheffield

Yesterday was spent with Lyra, our youngest grand-daughter.  As her parents live and work about fifty miles away from York, we don't get to see her nearly as much as we'd like to, so days when we do are always special. The purpose of this visit though was that they were moving house, which I seem to remember is one of the top three major stressors along with bereavement and divorce.  So Philip and I went along to help out and I got the best job of spending both Saturday and yesterday with Lyra, who's very good company.

We headed straight off to the Botanical Gardens and once the rain had stopped had a lovely time consorting with the squirrels and friendly dogs on leads, plus the most adorable cat who looked like one of Arlo's cousins.  

The Victorian Paxton Pavillions are the fabulous focal point of the gardens, which were a part of the original design by Robert Marnock(1800-1889). His plan had a strong T-shaped junction on a south-facing slope, ideal for a glasshouse so, as in many other grand gardens of the period such as Kenwood, the idea took root.
The restored pavillions in summer glory
The pavillions yesterday in the February sunshine
Robert Marnock was an illustrious garden designer who had worked previously at Bretton Hall, now home to the wonderful Yorkshire Sculpture Park,  He won a competition to design the Botanics, and in 1834 was asked to implement his design, and afterwards curated the garden until 1839.  He left to lay out the gardens of the Royal Botanic Society in London's Regent's Park, where he also became curator.
Herald of the spring, beautiful crocuses
His design for the Sheffield Botanics' nineteen-acre garden was revolutionary, displaying each plant either individually for its best attributes or grouped within organically-shaped geometric beds.  This new style was known as gardenesque, pioneered by  John Claudius Loudon. A major restoration of the gardens was completed in 2008, reinstating elements of Marnock's original design and the pavillions now house a fine collection of exotics.
Cacti and succulents
We had a lovely time in the pavillions, where there are plenty of seats to sit and peruse the plants - we didn't do much of that as little girls like to keep on the move - but we were both very appreciative of the warmth and colour of the glasshouses and loved playing peekaboo round the massive cacti and succulents and getting touchy-feely with the more user-friendly non-spiky ones.

On leaving, the teashop beckoned a few yards away and we settled in for a late lunch with a welcome bowl of broccoli and stilton soup, which Lyra declined in favour of a couple of sachets of her favourite Ella's Kitchen.
These look like pulmonarias but not sure, love the blue
Lovely camellias in full bloom, with no sign of frosting
Bare-wood blooms and spicy scent of Viburnum bodnantense
Bedazzling witch hazel
Sleepy cuddles with Lyra's fave Dogdog
Lyra fell asleep walking back through the gardens, so I took the opportunity to snap a few of the highlights. Unfortunately she missed the pungent scent of the ubiquitous sweet box, hanging heavily in the dampness - I later discovered that the garden holds the national collection of sarcococcas.  Looking forward to visiting in the summer, when it must be glorious with everything in full bloom.  Sheffield's Botanic Garden is a well-kept secret that's definitely worth knowing about.  


  1. Spring and flowers seem very far away here; thank you for the lovely photos and commentary. Lyra is the prettiest bloom of all, natuallly.

    1. Thanks Sandi, of course I think so too - grandchildren are such a delight :D

  2. Thank you for giving me new knowledge about Sheffield! I didn't know about this beatiful botanical garden - I first thought the pictures were from Kew Gardens. And litte Lyra is adorable with her smile and dark eyes! Best wishes from Hilde in Norway (where there is still winter and not a flower in sight, yet...)

  3. What an interesting blog, introduced by a thought-provoking photo. The unusual wall painting of the dwellings is also a strangely modern interpretation. Something like this hieroglyphic view of a park by Swiss painter Paul Klee,
    The image can be seen at who can supply you with a canvas print of it.


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