Everyone needs somewhere to go to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Here’s the network’s finest collections of rare fauna, just a train journey away.
Founded in 1840, Kew Gardens is London’s largest UNESCO World Heritage site, and contains the world’s biggest and most diverse collection of living plants. It’s also home to some exceptional architecture, including the Palm House and the recently refurbished Temperate House. This is a must-see attraction.
First opened in 2001, the Eden Project is best known for its iconic biomes –two bubble-like structures that hug the Cornish landscape. These futuristic buildings are dedicated to two distinct climates – rainforest and Mediterranean – and are home to an indoor jungle that has a canopy walkway and a waterfall.
The botanic garden at Bristol University is home to some 4,500 plant species from over 200 plant families, including exotic fauna from around the world. Visit the glasshouse and you will see species from the Amazon rainforest, South Africa and beyond. Best of all is the collection of giant Amazon water lilies.
Founded in 1621, Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum was the first of its kind in the UK. It has nearly 6,000 different types of plants, including a collection of carnivorous species, a water lily house and an arid house, where they keep an impressive collection of cacti.
Not technically a botanic garden, Barbican Conservatory is nonetheless a spectacular place to while away an afternoon, as tall creepers have climbed the building’s brilliant architecture, creating a strange tropical oasis. The conservatory is open on selected Sundays each month and Bank Holidays.