The Isle of Wight, just of the cost of mainland England, is such a popular holiday destinations for Brits and I can see absolutely why.
The island is so scenic, the views are just breathtaking and there is plenty to do. One of the popular tourist attractions on the Ilse of Wight is Ventnor Botanic Garden in Ventnor.
WHY IS IT KNOW AS BRITAIN’S HOTTEST GARDEN?
Ventnor Botanic Garden, also known as Britain’s Hottest Garden, is nested in a microclimate. This means that the garden’s temperature is normally a few degrees warmer compared to the mainland – it is closer to a Mediterranean climate than the British one we are used to here in the UK.
The botanic garden holds the warm temperature very well as it is protected from cold winds coming from the north by chalk downs. As a result, frost is very rare and many plants that normally do not survive outside on the mainland, including subtropical ones, can thrive and flourish here.
This is what makes this garden so unique. Its microclimate that allows the growth of diverse subtropical plants from different regions all over the world outdoors.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF VENTNOR BOTANIC GARDEN
Today, Ventnor Botanic Garden can be found on the former site of the Royal National Hospital for Diseases of the Chest, which was established there due to the mild climate. The microclimate contributed to a better and faster recovery of patients.
The hospital was demolished in 1969 when better drug treatments were developed and it was decided to redevelop the site in 1970 into Steephill Pleasure Gardens. Though, with the involvement of Harold Hillier, a famous English horticulturist, it was decided to extend the development of the pleasure gardens into a botanical garden that can be enjoyed by everyone.
The Botanic Garden used to be managed by the Isle of Wight Council until 2012 when the lease was transferred to Ventnor Botanic Garden CIC. Today, visitors have to pay an entrance fee, but in my opinion this is reasonable and of course contributes to the maintenance of the botanic garden.
THE BOTANIC GARDEN
The garden is divided into several areas that have different themes and plant collections. Some areas are divided into regional zones that host a collection of plants from that particular region such as South African Terrace, Australian Garden, New Zealand Events Garden, Japanese Garden and Mediterranean Garden.
Other areas of the botanical garden are dedicated to particular plants such as palm trees, Hydrangeas and Succulents. There is the Hydrangea Dell, Subtropical Palm Garden, Herb & Medicinal Garden and Arid Garden.
The Hydrangea Dell was one of my favourite areas of the botanic garden, it was just so pretty. The bushes were in full bloom in August and there were so many different types of hydrangeas present with small and big pebbles and in so many different colours including purple, pink and white.
Visitors can also see an Olive Grove, Walled Garden & Long Border as well as an Aboretum. The botanic garden is big and one can spend a few hours walking around and admiring all the different plants from across the world easily.
Close to the Arid Garden is the Tropical House, a greenhouse build in 1986 and home to the Amazonian Giant Waterlily in the summer. The greenhouse itself was not too impressive in my opinion and it looked a bit wild inside.
However, seeing the Amazonian Giant Waterlily in the middle of the greenhouse was a surprise and the highlight of my visit. They were just enormous. It looked like three kids could sit easily on one.
The Tropical House is build to reflect the style of Victorian greenhouses. It is very humid inside due to the running water, which also encourages plant growth and along the side of the greenhouse is a small canal with fish.
If you get hungry, there is a small restaurant onside with inside and outside seating (see picture). If you need the loo, I would recommend using the toilet in the restaurant as I personally have not seen other toilets around the garden. You can also purchase your entrance ticket from the restaurant, if you enter the botanic garden from the coastal path and do not have a ticket.
An alternative to eating in the restaurant for lunch is to prepare a picnic at home and eat on one of the many benches provided in the garden or on the lawn. There are plenty of wide open green grass spaces across the garden to sit, relax and take a break. Your feet will thank you.
There is also a small cafe by the entrance where you can buy cakes and a shop for souvenir, plant and gardening purchases. I bought some freshly harvested spring onions from the shop that were just amazing. They had that nice and strong smell, were so green and big and tasted so nice. Nothing compares to fresh produce.
VENTONOR BOTANIC GARDEN REVIEW
I had such a fantastic day out at Ventnor Botanic Garden. It was great to be surrounded by so many plants and I felt relaxed and rejuvenated after my visit. I would definitely recommend the botanic garden to anyone who wants to visit the Isle of Wight.
There were so many interesting and different plants that I have not seen before. I have been to a few botanic gardens and am always amazed that I see something new and interesting every single time. This time it was the Amazonian Giant Waterlily.
The garden is bigger than expected, which of course is a plus. You can spend a full day there and take your time if you wanted to, have lunch in the restaurant and just sit back and relax a little while looking at the pretty flowers.
My partner and I spend a good four hours there I would say. Initially we thought two hours would be enough as it did not look that big on the map, but once you start walking around you notice that there are so many different plant sections that you really want to see everything.
Overall the botanic garden is well maintained, but a few sections felt a bit neglected in terms of there were too many dead leaves on the pavement from trees, some plants were growing a big wild and so on. Ventnor Botanic Garden only started to introduce entrance fees back in 2012. Before, visitors could enter for free and only had to pay for car parking. However, I think it is justified to charge an admission fee to support the maintenance of the garden so it can be looked after and kept in shape for many more generations to enjoy. And hopefully me again in the future 🙂
- Opening times: Open daily from 10 am; last admission is 5 pm; open on Friday and Saturday until 8 pm
- Admission: Adults aged 17 and above – £9,50; Children aged between 6 and 16 years – £6; Children aged 5 and under – Free; Students – £7,50; Family ticket for 2 adults and 3 children – £25; Sundowners ticket for entry on Friday and Saturday after 5 pm – £3,50
- For more information please visit: https://www.botanic.co.uk
- How to get there: By car – Ventnor Botanic Garden, Undercliff Drive, Ventnor, Isle of Wight, PO38 1UL. When you are around the Ventnor area, follow the signs to St Lawrence. The garden is just on the A3055. By Bus – check with the local bus company Southern Vectis for up to date timetables and information