Park Life: A Spring Walk Around Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens

It’s always calming to find an oasis of relative peace in the bustle of any city. Glasgow, Scotland, is no exception. There are many parks scattered around its sprawling interior. After all, Scotland’s largest city isn’t known as the “Green Hollow” or “Dear Green Place” for nothing. You don’t need to look too far to find a good few miles of parkland to while away an afternoon and experience the beauty of nature. One such is the award-winning 50-acre Botanic Gardens in the West End of Glasgow.

The gardens follow a vast stretch of the River Kelvin, which magnifies the beauty of the experience. Woodland copses, plants in their thousands, and its centrepiece, The Kibble Palace, combine to make this a haven for families, joggers, dog walkers, and those who just want to get away from it all. And, like most parks, the time of year doesn’t matter either.

Please note: The Glasgow Botanic Gardens are usually open year-round. However, hours may have changed due to COVID-19. Please call the gardens or review the Botanic Gardens website for updated info.

Glasgow Botanic Gardens, pink blossoming trees

The gorgeous trees at the Glasgow Botanic Gardens. Photo: Nigel Boney

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Sights At Glasgow Botanic Gardens

Often described as a mix between a botanic garden and a park, the Botanic Garden’s origins were to provide resources to Glasgow University. It’s now renowned globally for its architecture and its tropical and temperate plants.

The centrepiece of the Botanic Gardens, The Kibble Palace started life as a private conservatory at Coulport, before moving to its present home in 1873. With several sizeable extensions added, and subsequently used for concert performances, its musical past is not too hard to imagine as you wander through its forests of Australasian tree ferns – themselves a national collection.

Tours

All areas of the Gardens, including the glasshouses, have free admission. For those keen on guided tours, these usually begin in May. For example, each Thursday afternoon, free guided health walks start outside of Kibble’s Palace and last about an hour. Explore the grounds, then finish with tea and biscuits in the Botanic Gardens Library.

If you’re looking to explore the Gardens from home, take a virtual tour of Kibble’s Palace and see the beauty from the comfort of your living area.

Kibble Palace, Glasgow Botanical Gardens

The beautiful centrepiece of the botanical gardens, Kibble’s Palace. Photo: Shutterstock / matthi

Trails

While at the Botanic Gardens, the Gardens’ Heritage Trail is well worth taking up. The trail combines 30 different points of historical and horticultural interest and takes you past the main glasshouses with stunning orchid displays, alongside the Kelvin river and the Arboretum. Allow around 90 minutes to complete it end to end. Details are available from the Kibble Palace.

For families, you may consider taking the Minibeasts, Birds, and Trees of the Botanic trail. The trail is marked and aimed for those with younger children.

Tearoom

No doubt, after all the walking, a chance to sit back and relax could be high on the list. The Tearoom in the former Curator’s house is an ideal spot. Often featuring art exhibitions, it opens from 10 am – 6 pm April to September, and 10 am – 4 pm in winter. During the warmer months, there’s an outdoor seating area available for breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea.

Kirklee Bridge

For any local history enthusiasts, the Kirklee Bridge is well worth seeing. Its memorial stone dates from 1900, and it’s a very imposing span. The bridge, built from a combination of red sandstone and polished pink granite, is considered one of Glasgow’s finest. The Kelvin walkway passes beneath it.

Glasgow Botanic Gardens, Kirklee Bridge Memorial

The Kirklee Bridge Stone Memorial. Photo: Nigel Boney

Summer Activities At Glasgow Botanic Gardens

During the summer months, the Botanic Gardens is host to ‘Bard in the Botanics,’ which is Glasgow’s largest and best supported outdoor Shakespeare Festival. Unfortunately, the summer season is cancelled in 2020 because of COVID-19. In past years, however, productions have included ‘Taming of the Shrew,’ ‘These Headstrong Women’, and with a slightly different slant, ‘Queen Lear.’

The Gardens also host an annual Orchid Fair in the Kibble Palace, if you’re looking for a stunning splash of colour. Specialist nurseries display and advise on these exotic plants, as well as offering them for sale.

A list of all summer events, including the Orchid Fair, is available at the Glasgow Botanic Gardens website.

Read More: Park Life In Kelvingrove: Glasgow’s Historical Urban Haven

Kelvin River in Glasgow

The Botanic Garden stretches alongside the River Kelvin, a beautiful scene. Photo: Nigel Boney

Accommodations near Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens

If you’re stuck for somewhere to stay, there is an excellent selection of hotels in Glasgow’s West End. One of the largest overlooks the Gardens on Great Western Road – the 4-star Hilton Glasgow Grosvenor. It combines a historic exterior with a modern interior, and its rooms are all designed for comfort and space. This pet-friendly hotel offers a choice of accommodation to suit, and its Bovine Steak Restaurant is well worth a visit.

For the more budget-conscious, The Kelvin Hotel on Buckingham Terrace is an ideal choice. A Victorian A-listed building and it’s walking distance from the Botanic Gardens. The Kelvin is a bed and breakfast that offers guest rooms with free WIFI, flat-screen TVs, and coffee/tea making facilities. When booking direct, the hotel offers a full complimentary breakfast. So, for more information call 0141 339 7143.

See The Beauty of Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens

So, with spring well under-way and summer not far off, Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens offers a wide choice. Its central west end position makes it easy to get to, and there are several bus links and hotels close to the Gardens. There is also a taxi rank in Queen Margaret Drive, where there are also parking facilities.

Whether it’s history, horticulture, or just gentle exercise, this sprawling park has something for everyone. For further details, call 0141 276 1614 or visit glasgowbotanicgardens.com.

Have you been to Glasgow Botanic Gardens? What recommendations do you have for future visitors? Let us know in the comments below!

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winter in Glasgow Botanic Gardens, woman and child near snowman

Even in winter, you can enjoy the beauty of Glasgow Botanic Gardens. Photo: Shutterstock / Jim Byrne Scotland

About the author

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Nigel Boney

I started writing for Northwest.com in 2010, with 37 articles published. I have strong links with the Pacific Northwest. UK based, I also wrote for Mobbly News Written by You - 73 articles mainly under showbiz & entertainment. Recently I published on MusicVita. I have a Diploma in freelance journalism and I'm currently writing on Blasting News US.

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