High Sheriff & Keith Brewer


High SheriffIsle of Wight High Sheriff, Kay Marriott, was joined by friends, volunteers and staff from Ventnor Botanic Garden to plant a tree in commemoration of the Garden’s 50th anniversary earlier this week.

The Garden, then named Steephill Pleasure Gardens, opened on 21st June 1972 with a ceremonial tree planting by Lord Louis Mountbatten, and since then has become a much-loved public Garden celebrating the unique microclimate of the Undercliff.

Much has changed during the last 50 years, not only within the garden but more widely with climate change governing what’s possible to grow outdoors.

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At the inaugural opening, a fastigiate oak was planted and 50 years later, largely due to the warmer microclimate, a palm tree marks the occasion just a stone’s throw from the original tree’s location. The new addition enhances the already large National Collection of palms at Ventnor Botanic Garden.

Garden Curator, Chris Kidd said:

“With a history and ethos of planting at the very edge of hardiness, reflecting a changing climate, it made sense to push ahead with the riskiest palms available as we enter the second decade of the second millennium.”

Friends & Supporters

Gardener Keith Brewer, who was present at the original opening of the Garden, joined the celebrations on Tuesday and spoke of the changes he himself has seen over the last 50 years:

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“Much of the Garden was very low-level planting in my day. It’s certainly grown to some height over the years and much has changed, largely due to the changing weather.”

Keith mentioned the 2 great hurricanes, the coming and going frosts and the increasing temperatures the garden has seen, all contributing to the everchanging appearance.

High Sheriff, Kay Marriott thanked the Friends and volunteers for all their hard work. The Ventnor Botanic Garden Friends Society has tirelessly supported the Garden and is responsible for funding many of the projects, including this newest palm collection.

Samphire dancers share their latest dance works at Ventnor Botanic Gardens.

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A couple of months ago, Samphire dance groups from Newport and Ventnor, were asked to take part in the 50th anniversary celebrations.

Using the gardens as a stimulus, Samphire created 4 dances for this week’s event. 1 inspired by the sights and sounds of the gardens simply entitled ‘In the Garden’, another ‘Breath’ takes its inspiration from the fact that Ventnor Botanic Gardens is on the site of former National Cottage Hospital for Consumption and Diseases of the Chest, and 2 other rather silly pieces, ‘On the Bench’ showing caricatures of people that you might sit next to on a park bench.

Michelle Hainsworth, director of the groups, says:

“It has been such a pleasure dancing and performing in the gardens.  They are a beautiful backdrop.  On Monday we even had a red squirrel dance with us!”

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Rupert Marks
Rupert Marks
9 days ago

My brother lives near the Botanical Gardens, so the first place we visited when we first came to visit was that amazing place. Congratulations on 50 glorious years, only 20 less than the Queen!


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