They are a living timeline celebrating the influences of British trade and commerce on the nation's rich gardening heritage adding a contemporary appreciation of the form and structure of diverse plant habitats from across the globe.
Featuring 70,000 plants from 250 different species across the world, the Gardens are divided into four climatic zones, each draws upon the ecological character of habitats found in the wild:
This Garden is based on a traditional hay meadow, but includes more robust species that flower for longer. From the 14th century onwards, the influx of plants from Europe that were already a key source for most garden plants from the classical civilisation increased with the growth of trade and exploration.
Flowers in this Garden are found in North American prairies. Plant collecting from North America was at its height in the 1800s, and it is still a key source for summer flower colour in British gardens today.
This Garden was inspired by the exotic species found in South Africa's Drakensberg range. Flora from South Africa are quite dramatic in colour and form, and the Drakensberg range is a prime example of this. With the warming of the climate, many South African plants are increasingly suitable for British gardens. Plants from South Africa were all the rage in the 19th century.
This Garden focuses on structure and foliage from the edges of Asian woodlands. Most of Asia was closed to trade and exploration until the 19th century, and when their ports opened for commerce, botanists found a long-established tradition of horticulture in many Asian cultures that outpaced much of what was being practiced in Europe.