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History

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.

Some notable members

We are rather proud of our early members. If you are interested in our history or just enjoy reading articles by knowledgeable plantspeople, click on the links below to learn more.


Robin and Joan Grout were exceptional hardy planters with a particular interest in variegated plants.

Robert and Jenny Young. Jenny Young was the first to record the plants in the Botanic Garden, an exercise we continue to this day.

Con and Neville Cooper dedicated much time to the Botanic Garden adding some glamour to the proceedings by arriving in a lovingly restored red sports car!

The success of the Nottingham Group and of the Botanic Garden owe much to John and Audrey Widdison. John effectively became the Garden’s first curator.

Hazel Kaye is a retired nurserywoman who gave well-received talks and wrote beautifully about plants and gardening.



Aerial view of Wollaton Hall

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