Durham Botanic Gardens is part of Durham University and is used for learning within the university. It’s also open to the public for a small entrance fee. There’s a free car park but it is quite small and I imagine on a hot day you’d really struggle to get parked. There’s a Park and Ride car park nearby which you could pay to park in and walk along to the gardens.
The gardens themselves are about 5 minutes in the car out of Durham city centre.
It costs £4 for adult entry with concessions at £3, and children and students at £1.50. We paid £5.50 for the three of us to get in as under 5’s get in free and my student card is still valid until December.
The gardens are open for the majority of the year, other than at Christmas and once you’ve paid to get in you can stay for the full day if you want too.
You can buy some of the seeds from the garden in entrance foyer with a suggested donation of £1 a packet. We picked up a packet of ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ and ‘Malva Moschata – Alba’ which we may get round to planting … one day .. . when our garden finally looks like a garden.
The gardens are a massive 10 hectares in size with an abundance of wild flowers, trees and wildlife. It had been years since I’d been prior to our recent visit and I’d forgotten how beautiful it was.
There are sculptures dotted through out the gardens too, some hidden amongst the trees.
There are plants and trees from around the world, including Japan, China, North America, South Africa, and New Zealand with the majority clearly marked with informative signs and information plaques.
There’s also a woodland garden, alpine garden and a bamboo grove. There’s a small Japanese Friendship Garden filled with beautiful cherry blossom trees.
There’s a large hot house which is divided into three sections near the visitors centre. It contains an variety of tropical rainforest plants, desert plants and and absolutely huge Amazonian water lily. Sadly my camera kept steaming so I couldn’t get any decent pictures of inside the hot house but it was an unexpected treat and there’s even a button to stimulate rainforest rain which the little man loved.
There’s a small selection of tropical creepy crawlies in one section of the hot house and some stick insects which the little man enjoyed watching climb all over his Dad.
There’s a small pond with water features at the front of the visitors centre with a section of seating around it. It quietened down while we were there but it was full of screaming children who were running through the water when we first arrived.
There’s a large seating area above the pond where you can sit and enjoy something from the cafe. There’s ample space inside to sit as well, though we didn’t sample the cafe because it was almost closing time as we left.
We had intended on visiting the gardens for an hour or so to pass the time while it was reasonably sunny but we ended up spending about 4 hours there. It was such a calming and pleasant place where you can easily wander off through the trees and greenery without seeing any other visitors.
We thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon and will definitely visitor more regularly especially when the little man is able to run around.