The Glasshouses at Cambridge Botanic Gardens

In my last post I showed you the winter garden at Cambridge Botanic Gardens but the glasshouses are well worth a visit too.  They were built in the 1930s  to replace the original Victorian  teak  glass houses. They cover an acre of ground. There is an 80 metre long corridor with rooms off it for different conditions. The plants in this  long corridor are wonderfully exotic.


Hibiscus insularis doesn’t look much like a Hibiscus, the leaves are much smaller than usual.  It comes from the Phillip Island in the Norfolk Islands where it became very close to extinction. It is good to see the Botanic Garden helping with important conservation work.


Calliandra haematocephala, the Powder Puff bush from Malaysia. I have seen it growing in Martinique where it is called ‘Pompon de Marin’ – Sailor’s Pompom.


Canarina canariensis is a lovely climber, I love those yellow and orange stripey flowers. No prizes for guessing where it comes from.


Solandra maxima is another twining plant with massive flowers which are fragrant at night because it is pollinated by bats. But not in Cambridge of course.


Laelia anceps is a gorgeous orchid from Mexico. I don’t know whether it would grow on your window sill.


Pachypodium lamerei is weird rather than beautiful. It comes from Madagascar and it is a succulent shrub.  The stems have really nasty looking thorns so even though it does have flowers it is not something  I would want to grow. It has to be kept totally frost free.


I’m not sure what this is I couldn’t find the label. Maybe it is another Pachypodium, it has a similar spiny trunk. Again curious rather than beautiful.

There were some familiar beauties growing in the corridor.


Strelizia reginae , the beautiful  Bird of Paradise is pollinated by sun birds who come to drink the nectar.


I have grown the lovely Tibouchina urvilleana, but not very successfully, it always gets very leggy  and however lovely the flowers, the plant looks a mess. The flowers are exquisite though.

The glory of the glasshouse that people come from miles around to see was not out yet. I think it was March or April when I saw it.  if you get the chance in Spring do go and look at the magnificent Jade Vine in flower. Strongylodon macrobotrys is  a huge climbing plant with the most amazing jade green flowers.


Cacti aren’t really my thing but there is a whole room devoted to these  desert plants.


There are of course lots of big leaved rain forest plants in this steamy glass house.


My favourite room is the  one with lovely alpines displayed like little jewels.


A lovely pure white Saxifrage in a pot. I would loved to have taken this home.


I  have grown Lachenalia but never this showy, bright red one: Lachenalia bulbifera.


I grow Sternbergia lutea outside in the garden but to be honest it never flowers very well. But I love this large white flower of Sternbergia candida. It is fragrant too.


I have never come across this curious little plant before. Leontice leonopetalum. This means lion petals. They don’t look very lion-like to me.


Sorry, a bit out of focus. Little buttercup flowers of the Gymnospermum altaicum. No, I’d never heard of it either. But it is rather cute.


I really want the white Narcissus cantabricus tanaicus. it is the most adorable hoop-petticoat Narcissus I have ever seen.

As it is January I have to finish with some snowdrops that were displayed in the alpine house.


Galanthus ‘Melanie Broughton’  has a nice chubby flower. Itwas discovered at Anglesey Abbey.


Galanthus ‘Anglesey Abbey’ has nice shiny green leaves with no grey in them.


Galanthus elwesii  ‘Paradise Giant’has huge, very long flowers.

If you go to Cambridge Botanic garden there are a few snowdrops for sale. ‘Galanthus ‘Wendy’s Gold’ costs  £20. I keep meaning to add it to my collection but it seems quite a lot to pay for a little bit of yellow.

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17 Responses to The Glasshouses at Cambridge Botanic Gardens

  1. Annette says:

    Glasshouses have a special appeal at this time of year when one can indulge in their warm and comforting atmosphere. You show some very pretty plants, Chloris. Do you have a conservatory? We’re about to make one and I look forward to sit there among my plants. 🙂

    • Chloris says:

      I used to have a conservatory at my old house. I would love one but it is difficult to see how to put one on a sixteenth century house without it appearing incongruous.I fill every room in the house with plants though. The Pianist complains that it is like living in the rain forest I have so many plants.

  2. Kris P says:

    Thank you for another nice garden tour. I particularly like the alpine plants. I agree with you on that Tibouchina – at my old house they grew to the height of small trees and, despite the beautiful flowers, they were a mess so I eventually took them out. I inherited 2 with our current house but they may be headed for removal too.

  3. Beautiful, especially the Bird of Paradise and the Tibouchina. I need to visit some of the glass houses around here in order to get reinvigorated after all this cold and snow.

  4. Chloris says:

    It is good to look at tropical plants when one is cold but my favourites are the alpines. They are not so flamboyant but I love their delicate beauty.

  5. Julie says:

    The Narcissus is absolutely beautiful. Lovely photo too.

  6. bittster says:

    What a nice visit to the glasshouses on what is a cold, cold night here in Pennsylvania. Funny how you dislike the Pachypodium, it’s not that hard to find around here as a houseplant with the trendier name of ‘Madagascar palm’.
    I love your pictures of the alpine house, and the snowdrops are beautiful.

  7. Flighty says:

    It’s always good to look at such exotic plants and flowers. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to look in the glasshouses when I visited there. xx

  8. Pauline says:

    What a fantastic selection of flowers, I tried unsuccessfully to grow a Tibouchina in my conservatory, maybe I ought to try again.

  9. Cathy says:

    Thanks for taking us on another day out from the comfort of our warm homes, Chloris – it’s good to extend our horizons!

  10. Chloris says:

    Yes, it’s good to look at exotic plants, even the ones we can’t grow at home. I always enjoy looking in the glasshouses in botanic gardens. My favourite is the alpine house at Wisley.

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