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Garden Visit | An exclusive garden and botanical history day in Cambridge

This exclusive day at Cambridge Botanic University Garden, arranged especially for the Garden Museum, is a chance to see behind the scenes and have rarely granted access to view the extensive collections in the Herbarium and the Cory Library.

After coffee in the Garden Café, we will divide into two smaller groups for our tours, allowing plenty of opportunity for questions. Our group will be met by a member of the Curatorial team who will introduce us to the University Herbarium, which has recently been officially awarded Designated status by the Arts Council England. Established in 1761, the Herbarium holds one of the largest collections of pressed and dried plant specimens in the UK and it is critical to the functioning of the Cambridge Botanic Garden because it serves as a record of plants that have passed through the Garden’s living collection as well as the many expeditions that have been undertaken. Its outstanding collection, amassed over the last 300 years, comprises 1.1 million plant specimens from all over the world.

Amongst the Herbarium’s many treasures are 1,000 specimens collected by Charles Darwin on his famous 1830s voyage on HMS Beagle – perhaps the most famous scientific expedition in history. Darwin was a passionate botanist and on this private visit we will be able to view some of his specimens, as well as material collected by other renowned plant hunters, such as Alfred Russel Wallace, Joseph Banks and Hans Sloane. There will be insight into Darwin’s epic voyage: how he was offered the chance to travel on the HMS Beagle and who his travelling companions were.

We will also have a chance to view items from the Cory Library, a major collection of global relevance of garden and landscape history documents and periodicals dating back to the 16th century.

Meanwhile, our second group will be given a very special guided tour of the Cambridge Botanic Garden, where we will enjoy seasonal highlights including the bee borders which will be at their peak, ecological planting and the glasshouses with their important collection of alpines. As well as being a beautiful place to be, the garden holds a collection of over 8,000 plant species from all over the world, to facilitate teaching and research into topics including food security, conservation and biodiversity.

In the afternoon, the two groups will swap over. In between the two tours we will all enjoy a two-course seasonal lunch with wine in the Garden Café and there will be tea and cake before we leave. During the day there will be ample time to explore at your leisure and to ask questions of the knowledgeable staff.

This event has been organised by the Garden Museum’s Garden Visits committee. We recommend you read our Garden Visits Attendee Charter and Refund/exchange policy before booking your place on any of our Garden Visits.

Image: © Cambridge University Botanic Garden