Growing up in Cambridge, the fondest memories I have of junior school were lunchtime trips to the University Botanical Gardens. Captivated by the scents and exoticism of the carefully nurtured natural wonders there, I watched nature programmes like BBC Planet Earth, Blue planet and promptly fell in love with David Attenborough. With the revival of Planet Earth II, I was reminded of the reason I became fascinated by botany in the first place.
(above: Cambridge desert, mountain and jungle greenhouse sections)
The combination of human and natural aesthetic is what really draws me toward the greenhouses especially. I love how the skeletal frame of the metal and glass contrast – and complement – the softer colours and shapes of the natural fronds and flowers that are cultivated inside.
(above: Oxford jungle, corridor and water greenhouse sections)
I visited Cambridge in April and Oxford in July, so although the external displays are seasonal, the greenhouse interiors stay pretty constant throughout the year. I even recognised some of the same plants and layouts in Cambridge as were there 10 years ago!
Overall, I prefer the Cambridge Botanical Gardens – although there is a certain degree of nostalgia for me when visiting, the gardens themselves outside of the greenhouses are bigger and more ordered with a greater variety of areas and diversity of plants than in Oxford, which is smaller and modelled more like an English Garden than a Botanical one.