A Plant-Lover's Guide to the 5 Best Public Greenhouses in the UK

February 27, 2017

About a year ago, my partner Magnus and I started a visual journal of our travels and found that we have a soft spot for greenhouses. With its unpredictable weather, the UK gives us the perfect excuse to hide from the rain clouds under a glass roof and pretend we’re somewhere tropical.

Below, we’ve put together a list of our five favorite public greenhouses that can entertain you no matter what the world outside looks like.

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Seven days a week, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Arboretum Place, Edinburgh EH3 5NZ, United Kingdom

Photo by India Hobson

The 10 glasshouses at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh are always our first stop when we visit the city. We like that there’s an architectural journey as we move through the different climates, as each structure built at a different time and represents a further addition to the collections there.

We enjoy the fernery most of all, with its earthy smell, incredible wealth of textures, and tall tree ferns that stretch to the glass ceiling.

Photo by India Hobson

University of Oxford Botanic Garden

Seven days a week, 9:00am to 4:00 pm
Rose Lane, Oxford OX1 4AZ, United Kingdom

Photo by India Hobson

The University of Oxford Botanic Gardens are particularly special to us, because they’re the ones that started us off on our greenhouse journey.

Photo by India Hobson

We wandered in by chance while in the area and have been back many times since; although small in stature, the glasshouses provide multiple zones and offer snapshots of a faraway land.

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So to us, they seem much bigger than they actually are.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Seven days a week, 10:00am to 5:30 pm
Richmond TW9 3AB, United Kingdom

Kew's Royal Botanic Gardens are a must-see if you’re in London. Their famous Palm House is the longest-standing Victorian glasshouse in the world.

Photo by India Hobson

It’s a fancy ornate building with over 16,000 panes of glass to make it the light, bright, and beautifully exotic sanctuary that it is. We love to get lost in here and hide amongst the long green leaves of its tropical inhabitants.

Photo by India Hobson

Sheffield Botanical Gardens

Seven days a week, 8:00am to 4:00 pm
Clarkehouse Rd, Sheffield S10 2LN, United Kingdom

Photo by India Hobson

This is where we become a little biased; we live a 20-minute walk from the Botanical Gardens in Sheffield and so visit it on an almost-daily basis.

It’s where we can see the most change throughout the seasons, and is our go-to space to gather our thoughts when we need a bit of a breather.

Photo by India Hobson

Eden Project

Opening and closing times detailed here
Bodelva, Par PL24 2SG, United Kingdom

Photo by India Hobson

Eden Project is on a different scale than anywhere else we’ve visited in the UK. Its two biomes stand on the site of a former quarry, developed to bring new life to the peninsula of Cornwall.

Photo by India Hobson

We fell for the Rainforest Biome on our first trip a few years ago and still can’t quite get over the fact that it’s a man-made environment; you really do feel as though you’ve been transported to another part of the world, with a huge jump in temperature to match and the great addition of a treetop walkway so you can see over the forest canopy below.

Photo by India Hobson

Sheffield, England-based India and Magnus chronicle their greenhouse adventures (and all sorts of other travels) on their blog Haarkon; follow along at @haarkon on Instagram.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • creamtea
  • Leah Hammond
    Leah Hammond
Photographer, colour organiser, and half of Haarkon


creamtea February 28, 2017
lovely article!
Leah H. February 27, 2017
Yes, this is beautiful!! More travel pieces please Food52! I volunteer to get started on Paris!