Using Google Earth, I happened to be investigating a route to somewhere in Edgbaston when I spotted the words Winterbourne Botanic Garden. Being an enthusiast of the Birmingham Botanical Gardens as a place to escape the city bustle on a fine day I Googled “Winterbourne Botanic Garden” and at the top of the search results was “Winterbourne House & Garden”.
From this website I discovered that the 7 acre area just to the east side of Edgbaston Park Road and almost opposite Birmingham University was not private land. It is a well maintained small estate of extensive gardens open to the public.
The house was built in 1903 for John and Margaret Nettlefold, of GKN (Guest, Keen & Nettlefold). GKN, a major world manufacturing company originating in 1759, had a large manufacturing plant in Heath Street, Smethwick producing screws and similar and was a major employer in Birmingham in the second half of the 20th century.
The estate was designed like a country estate with a large house and extensive rustic outbuildings and gardens. Nicolson died in 1944 and left the house and garden to Birmingham University. The garden became the University’s Botanic Garden and is still used by students. Luckily for us it is open to the public to visit at very attractive prices.
I visited the gardens on 16 May this year and took a number of photos which you can see in the Gallery below.
There are a number of lawns, many flower beds and garden features such as a pergola and ornate wooden bridges.
The collection of cacti, both in open spaces and a greenhouse is outstanding as can be seen from the gallery below.
It is also possible to gain access to a wood owned by Edgbaston Golf Club which provides panoramic views over Edgbaston Pool.
The expected full summer bloom is at the beginning of June and so a return visit then is a must.
The House is furnished with antiques and a tea room provides light lunches, sandwiches and cakes which can be consumed both indoors and on a large outside balcony overlooking a lawn.
Article and photos by Geoff Caine
To best view photos:
1. View a larger version of a single image in a separate page – Right Click on the image then Left Click on “Open link in new tab” or “Open link in new window”.
2. Display an enlarged gallery – Left Click on an image – use the large side arrows to move between images – Left Click outside an image or press ESC to close the enlarged gallery.