Visiting British gardens in the winter months can be cold or even wet, but some of our best and most beautiful gardens feature spectacular glasshouses. Escape the cold weather and take yourself into a warmer climate under the roof of one of these plant-packed, architecturally intriguing glass domes.
The Eden Project
These spectacular glasshouses were constructed on the site of an old disused clay mine and consist of adjoining domes created out of steel frames supporting hundreds of pentagonal and hexagonal inflatable plastic cells. The Mediterranean biome houses arid plants such as grapevines and olives, while the Tropical biome is much steamier and is home to plants such as coffee, banana trees, bamboo and rubber. A third biome surrounds the other biomes and represents the world’s temperate regions, with plants such as sunflowers, lavender, tea, hemp and hops.
Located at Bodelva, Cornwall PL24 2SG
Tel: 01726 811911
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Home to a staggering eight glasshouses, Kew Gardens is the ultimate destination for plant and garden lovers. Explore the curvaceous Palm House with its steamy interior and exotic palms. Wander through the Princess of Wales Conservatory, built partially underground and designed to be energy-efficient. This glasshouse recreates ten climatic zones featuring baobab trees from Madagascar, Asian carnivorous plants and Central American orchids. The Temperate House is a huge structure surviving from the Victorian period and consisting of separate wings for plants to thrive in from the Pacific, Asia, New Zealand, Australia and Africa. The Bonsai House is home to a growing number of ornamental shrubs and trees. For a really hot experience, visit the Waterlily House with its large pond and numerous varieties of waterlily. The most recent and modern of all the glasshouses is the Davies Alpine House, which has a stunning selection of primulas, tulips, campanulas, verbascums, dianthus and many other species.
Located in Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 3AB.
Tel: 020 8332 5655
The Winter Garden, Sheffield
This attractively designed indoor garden features kiosks, park benches, winding paths and a central atrium for entertainment and relaxation. As one of the largest city glasshouses in UK, this remarkable construction could easily accommodate 5,000 garden greenhouses. Home to over 2,000 plants from countries all around the world, each one is carefully chosen for its sustainability and attractiveness, making this a premier indoor destination.
Located at 90 Surrey Street, South Yorkshire, Sheffield, S1 2LH.
Tel: 01142 211900
Charles Darwin and family lived at Down House for over 40 years. This tranquil estate was a sanctuary for him to concentrate on his writing and experiments. His theories about evolution were tested in the outdoor space which was his laboratory. He constructed a hothouse early in the 1860s which ran alongside the already existing kitchen garden greenhouse. This would become his ultimate experimental environment. Today the glasshouse is home to the same plant varieties that Darwin grew for his many projects, including climbing plants, orchids and insectivorous plants.
Located on Luxted Road, Downe, Kent, BR6 7JT.
Tel: 01689 859119