Ventnor Botanic Garden

Ventnor Botanic Garden is a botanic garden located in Ventnor, Isle of Wight. It was founded in 1970, by Sir Harold Hillier, and donated to the Isle of Wight Council.

Its collection comprises worldwide temperate and subtropical trees and shrubs organised by region. The garden's unusual climate is more akin to the Mediterranean and enables a wide variety of plants considered too tender for much of mainland Britain to be grown. These grow in the open air, and benefit from the moist and sheltered microclimate of the south-facing Undercliff landslip area on the Isle of Wight coast. When frost does occur it is usually of short duration and not of great severity.[1]

Ventnor Botanic Garden
Ventnor botan nz
The Australian section within The Gardens, February 2007.
LocationVentnor, Isle of Wight
Coordinates50°35′21″N 1°13′40″W / 50.5892°N 1.2278°W
Owned byFreehold owned by Isle of Wight Council, leased to Ventnor Botanic Garden CIC
Operated byVentnor Botanic Garden CIC


The garden is on the site of the Royal National Hospital for Diseases of the Chest, a sanatorium established there to exploit the same mild climate. Founded by Arthur Hill Hassall, designed by local architect Thomas Hellyer and opened in 1869 as the National Cottage Hospital for Consumption and Diseases of the Chest, it offered 130 separate south-facing bedrooms for its patients. The hospital closed in 1964, made obsolete by drug treatment of tuberculosis, and demolished in 1969.[2]

In 1970, the site was initially redeveloped as the Steephill Pleasure Gardens before Sir Harold Hillier's involvement in its more extensive development as a botanical garden. Despite the generally mild weather, plants had to be carefully selected to tolerate the shallow alkaline soil and salt winds, and the garden suffered serious damage in the unusually hard winter of 1986–7, the Great Storm of 1987, and another major storm in January 1990.

A large greenhouse was built in 1986 and opened in 1987, where tropical plants are grown, including a pool containing 22 tonnes of heated water showing Giant Waterlily in the summer months, with surrounding Egyptian Blue Lotus flowers.

The garden was managed by the Isle of Wight Council until 2012 when it transferred to Ventnor Botanic Garden CIC. Parking charges were replaced by an entry fee. The curator of the garden from 1986 until 2011 was Simon Goodenough, who was succeeded by Chris Kidd.[3]


The garden is located alongside the A3055 road, and buses on Southern Vectis' Route 6 stop there.[4] There are scenic walks from nearby Ventnor town.


  1. ^ Archived 20 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine Ventnor Botanic Garden website: introduction
  2. ^ Laidlaw, E. F. (1990). The Story of the Royal National Hospital Ventnor, Newport: E. F. Laidlaw, ISBN 978-1-872981-07-9.
  3. ^ Ventnor Botanic Garden website: history
  4. ^ Southern Vectis' Route 6

External links

Coordinates: 50°35′21″N 1°13′40″W / 50.5892°N 1.2278°W

Acer morrisonense

Acer morrisonense is an Asian species of maple found only in the mixed forests of eastern and southern Taiwan, at elevations of 1800 – 2200 m. The species is sometimes confused with another Taiwanese tree, Acer caudatifolium.

Arthur Hill Hassall

Arthur Hill Hassall (13 December 1817, Teddington – 9 April 1894, San Remo) was a British physician, chemist and microscopist who is primarily known for his work in public health and food safety.

Hassall was born in Middlesex as the youngest son of five children in a house of a surgeon. His father was Thomas Hassall (1771–1844) and his mother, née Ann Sherrock (c. 1778–1817). He spent his school years in Richmond.

He entered medicine through apprenticeship in 1834 to his uncle Sir James Murray (1788–1871), spending his early career in Dublin, where he also studied botany and the seashore. In 1846 he published a two-volume study, The Microscopic Anatomy of the Human Body in Health and Disease, the first English textbook on the subject.

After further studying botany at Kew and publishing on botanical topics, particularly freshwater algae, he came to public attention with his 1850 book A microscopical examination of the water supplied to the inhabitants of London and the suburban districts, which became an influential work in promoting the cause of water reform. In the early 1850s he also studied food adulteration; his reports were published in The Lancet by reformer Thomas Wakley and led directly to the 1860 Food Adulteration Act and subsequent further legislation against the practice.He also worked as physician at the Royal Free Hospital, but required long breaks through ill-health due to pulmonary tuberculosis, and in 1869 moved to the Isle of Wight. On the basis of his experience of the microclimate of the Undercliff, he established the National Cottage Hospital for Consumption and Diseases of the Chest (later Royal National Hospital for Diseases of the Chest), a sanatorium at Ventnor, Isle of Wight. The buildings were designed by local architect Thomas Hellyer.From 1878 onward, aiming to rest in warmer climates, he spent most of his time in Europe, gaining permission to practise both in San Remo, where he and his family lived, and Lucerne, where he worked in the summer. During this time he wrote extensively on climatic treatments for tuberculosis, works such as the 1879 San Remo and the Western Riviera Climatically and Medically Considered. His autobiography, The narrative of a busy life, was published in 1893.

Two medical terms are named after Hassall: Hassall's corpuscles, which are spherical bodies in the medulla of the thymus gland, and Hassall–Henle bodies, which are abnormal growths in the Descemet membrane of the eye.

His Ventnor hospital operated until 1964 when it closed, made obsolete by drug treatment of tuberculosis, to be demolished in 1969. Its grounds are now the site of Ventnor Botanic Garden.

Buddleja × wardii

Buddleja × wardii is a naturally occurring hybrid of Buddleja alternifolia and Buddleja crispa discovered and collected by Frank Kingdon-Ward in 1924 from the mountain riverbanks of south-eastern Xizang (formerly Tibet) at altitudes of 3000–3600 m; B. alternifolia and B. crispa are the only other Buddleja species found in the area. The shrub was named for Ward by Cecil Marquand in 1929. White-flowering plants under this name were collected in Tibet by Keith Rushforth and introduced to commerce in the UK in 2013.[1]


A garden is a planned space, usually outdoors, set aside for the display, cultivation, or enjoyment of plants and other forms of nature. The garden can incorporate both natural and man-made materials. The most common form today is a residential garden, but the term garden has traditionally been a more general one. Zoos, which display wild animals in simulated natural habitats, were formerly called zoological gardens. Western gardens are almost universally based on plants, with garden often signifying a shortened form of botanical garden. Some traditional types of eastern gardens, such as Zen gardens, use plants sparsely or not at all.

Gardens may exhibit structural enhancements including statuary, follies, pergolas, trellises, stumperies, dry creek beds and water features such as fountains, ponds (with or without fish), waterfalls or creeks. Some gardens are for ornamental purposes only, while some gardens also produce food crops, sometimes in separate areas, or sometimes intermixed with the ornamental plants. Food-producing gardens are distinguished from farms by their smaller scale, more labor-intensive methods, and their purpose (enjoyment of a hobby or self-sustenance rather than producing for sale). Flower gardens combine plants of different heights, colors, textures, and fragrances to create interest and delight the senses.

Gardening is the activity of growing and maintaining the garden. This work is done by an amateur or professional gardener. A gardener might also work in a non-garden setting, such as a park, a roadside embankment, or other public space.

Landscape architecture is a related professional activity with landscape architects tending to specialise in design for public and corporate clients.

Harold Hillier

Sir Harold George Hillier (2 January 1905 – 8 January 1985) was an English horticulturist.

In 1921 he joined the family firm, Hillier Nurseries, his early career spent in assisting his father in rebuilding stocks depleted by World War I. He became partner in 1930 and head of the firm on his father's death in 1944, leading the nursery's expansion to become the leading British stockist of northern temperate trees and shrubs.

From the 1950s onward he expanded his interest to gathering seeds and plants from the USA and worldwide, donating many endangered plants to collections such as Ventnor Botanic Garden, Wisley Gardens and Westonbirt Arboretum. His own collection, the Hillier arboretum, at Ampfield near Romsey, was presented as a gift to Hampshire County Council in 1977.

Despite his distinguished work, he documented little of it, and his main published work was Hillier's Manual of Trees and Shrubs (1972).

In 1972 he was made an honorary fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society, becoming vice-president in 1974. In 1954 he was elected a fellow of the Linnean Society of London and in 1957 was awarded the Victoria Medal of Honour from the Royal Horticultural Society.He received a CBE in 1971 and a knighthood in 1983 for services to horticulture.

List of botanical gardens in the United Kingdom

Botanical gardens in the United Kingdom is a link page for any botanical garden, arboretum or pinetum in the United Kingdom.

List of gardens in England

Gardens in England is a link page for any garden, botanical garden, arboretum or pinetum open to the public in England.

The National Gardens Scheme also opens many small, interesting, private gardens to the public on 1 or 2 days a year for charity.

Orchard Bay

Orchard Bay is a small bay with sand and shingle beach on the south-east coast of the Isle of Wight, England. It lies to the south-west of the Ventnor Botanic Garden and just along the coast west from Steephill Cove. It faces south towards the English Channel, its shoreline is 220 yards (200 m) in length - 65 yards (60 m) of which is beach.

The bay can be accessed by a small footpath at the western end of the bay. The beach is dominated by a large seawall and Orchard House just above the high water mark. Orchard bay House was originally built in 1828 as three coastguard cottages in order to prevent smuggling but was in 1840 acquired for use in smuggling. It is currently let as holiday accommodation.

Podarcis muralis

Podarcis muralis (common wall lizard) is a species of lizard with a large distribution in Europe and well-established introduced populations in North America, where it is also called the European wall lizard. It can grow to about 20 cm (7.9 in) in total length.


Steephill is a hamlet near Ventnor, Isle of Wight , previously the location of a Victorian country estate with a castle-style mansion, Steephill Castle, which was demolished to build bungalows in the 1960s. Steephill itself now forms part of the suburban development westward from Ventnor.

Steephill Cove, on the coast some 400 yards to the south, has several kiosks and self-catering cottages. Fish can be bought beneath a sign which states "Wheeler and Sons; Fishermen since the 1500s". The cove is accessible only on foot; it is about 200 yards from Undercliff Drive, and is on the Isle of Wight Coastal Path directly adjacent to Ventnor Botanic Garden.

Steephill was the location of a country estate since the time of Hans Stanley, governor of the Isle of Wight, who built there in landscaped surroundings a rustic-style house called The Cottage during his first term of office 1764-1768. After his death the estate was purchased by Wilbraham Tollemache. It was his favourite residence until his death in 1821, after which the estate was sold in 1828 to John Hambrough, who built Steephill Castle in 1835 on the site of The Cottage. In 1836 Hamborough paid for the construction of St Catherine's Church, Ventnor's parish church.Its next owner was John Morgan Richards, an American businessman who bought it in 1903. His daughter, the novelist Pearl Mary Teresa Craigie (pseudonym "John Oliver Hobbes") lived near the Castle from 1900–1906, writing a number of her works there.The Castle was auctioned after Richards' death after World War I. It then saw service as a hotel with the Holiday Friendship Association (with a period as a school during World War II) until 1959, when upkeep and fire safety issues made this use increasingly unviable. Ethel Garton my grandmother was the manager of Steep Hill Castle in that last year of 1959. Aged 5 I distinctly remember the austere and baronial grand architecture in that warm sunny summer of 59, it had a very church like character. Adder snakes were common in the undergrowth and the path through the woods to the cove was overgrown and wild in that year. Unused, its condition deteriorated thereafter, until a demolition order was obtained in 1963.

Thomas Hellyer (architect)

Thomas Hellyer (1811–18 March 1894) was an English architect of the mid-Victorian era. He was based on the Isle of Wight and was "the leading Island-based architect of the period", but his works can also be found on the mainland—principally in Hampshire—but also farther afield. Described by Pevsner as a "very individualistic" and "remarkable" architect, his output included churches, houses, schools, and hospitals across the island, during a period of rapid urban development. Many of his buildings have listed status, and he "made important contributions to the appearance of the city" of Portsmouth through his extensive work in the area.

Tilia caroliniana

Tilia caroliniana Mill. is a species of tree in the Malvaceae family native to the southern and south-eastern states of the U.S., and Mexico.

Tilia tuan

Tilia tuan is a species of lime found in forests at elevations of 1200–2400 m in the central Chinese provinces of Guangxi, Guizhou, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Sichuan, Yunnan, and Zhejiang. The species has long been regarded as the most variable lime within China, acquiring numerous synonyms; three varieties are currently recognized.

The tree was first described by Henry who discovered it in 1888.

Ulmus mexicana

Ulmus mexicana (Liebm.) Planch., the Mexican elm, is a large tree endemic to Mexico and Central America. It is most commonly found in cloud forest and the higher elevations (800–2200 m) of tropical rain forest with precipitation levels of 2–4 m per year, ranging from San Luis Potosi south to Chiapas in Mexico, and from Guatemala to Panama beyond. The tree was first described botanically in 1873.

Undercliff (Isle of Wight)

For other locations of the same name, see The Undercliff.

The Undercliff, Isle of Wight, England is a tract of semi-rural land, around 5 miles long by 0.25–0.5 miles wide, skirting the southern coast of the island from Niton to Bonchurch. Named after its position below the escarpment that backs this coastal section, its undulating terrain comprises a mix of rough pasture, secondary woodland, parkland, grounds of large isolated houses, and suburban development. Its sheltered south-facing location gives rise to a microclimate considerably warmer than elsewhere on the island. Although inhabited, the Undercliff is an area prone to landslips and subsidence, with accompanying loss of property over time. Settlements along the Undercliff, from west to east, are: lower Niton (also called Niton Undercliff), Puckaster, St Lawrence, Steephill, the town of Ventnor, and Bonchurch.


Ventnor () is a seaside resort and civil parish established in the Victorian era on the south-east coast of the Isle of Wight, England, eleven miles (18 km) from Newport. It is situated south of St Boniface Down, and built on steep slopes leading down to the sea. The higher part is referred to as Upper Ventnor (officially Lowtherville); the lower part, where most amenities are located, is known as Ventnor. Ventnor is sometimes taken to include the nearby and older settlements of St Lawrence and Bonchurch, which are covered by its town council. The population of the parish in 2016 was about 5,800.

Ventnor became extremely fashionable as both a health and holiday resort in the late 19th century, described as the 'English Mediterranean' and 'Mayfair by the Sea'. Medical advances during the early twentieth century reduced its role as a health resort and, like other British seaside resorts, its summer holiday trade suffered the changing nature of travel during the latter part of that century.

Its relatively sheltered location beneath the hilly chalk downland produces a microclimate with more sunny days and fewer frosts than the rest of the island. This allows many species of subtropical plant to flourish; Ventnor Botanic Garden is particularly notable. Ventnor retains a strongly Victorian character, has an active arts scene, and is regaining popularity as a place to visit.


Not to be confused with Wrightbus, the bus manufacturer

Wightbus was a bus operator on the Isle of Wight, owned by the Isle of Wight Council. It operated a network of 13 local bus services running across the island, mostly services which would not have been viable for the island's dominant commercial operator, Southern Vectis, to operate.

Wightbus also provided school buses, and transported disabled adults to various day care centres on behalf of the council's social services department. A dial-a-bus service was run over some parts of the island to residents who would be unable to leave their homes to catch a regular service bus.

The Wightbus fleet was made up of 27 vehicles with capacities ranging from 16 to 72. Around 40 trained drivers and passenger-escort staff were employed. Over 1 million passengers travelled on Wightbus services annually.Wightbus was axed by the Isle of Wight Council in February 2011, with the last services operating on 2 September 2011. Under a new "Community Bus Partnership", Southern Vectis agreed to take on a number of routes previously operated by Wightbus to rural areas of the island in co-ordination with the Isle of Wight Council and the town and parish councils which the services run in. The services are all run by volunteer drivers.


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