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The Botanic Garden is born

For over 35 years, the Nottingham Group have tended the small walled botanic garden at Wollaton Hall and Deer Park in Wollaton, Nottingham. 

By 1980 the garden, 100 feet by 50 feet and surrounded by a 10 foot high brick wall, had lain idle and unloved for over 35 years. The then Museum Curator, Mr Brian Payle, wanted it to have a useful purpose and staff suggested that it could become an exhibition area for living plant life. The resident taxidermist was married to a keen member of the Hardy Plant Society. As a result of this connection Nottingham City Council Museum Service formally invited the Group committee to create a Botanic Garden devoted to hardy garden plants in September 1980.

In accepting this challenge the Group realised that developing the garden would be a huge undertaking. They were well supported by the City Council who arranged clearing the site, restoring paths and providing new topsoil for the beds. 

Fortuitously, John Widdison, husband of the Group secretary had just retired and he became the Garden’s first curator. By the autumn of 1981 the nine beds had been created and decisions made about the plant families/genera that would be included. 

Five years later, in July 1986, John Widdison reported that the garden contained a total of 471 plants and it continues to increase and evolve to this day.

Aerial view of Wollaton Hall

Aerial photograph of Wollaton Hall 
showing the location of our Botanic Garden,
taken by Ernest Kochmann of