Wirral Walks - Ness Gardens

Ness Botanic Gardens

Ness Botanic Gardens is an owned by Liverpool University, and is found close to Neston in Wirral, England. The gardens evolved from one man's love of plants and his desire to share his collection with others.

There is a spacious new visitor centre housing a cafe, exhibition space, lecture theatre, meeting room, conservatory and a gift shop. There is also a weather centre and a plant sales area, many of these plants and seeds having been raised on site.  People are welcome to make use of the picnic area and childrens' play area.

Generous coach and car parking space is also available.

Come prepared to do a lot of walking, though there is some wheelchair access too.

One of Ness Gardens most famous views.
One of Ness Gardens most famous views.
A beautiful waterfall and pond, surrounded by moisture-loving plants.
A beautiful waterfall and pond, surrounded by moisture-loving plants.
Another view of the many ponds within Ness Gardens, which are alive with tadpoles each spring.
Another view of the many ponds within Ness Gardens, which are alive with tadpoles each spring.
Yellow flag iris flowerign beside a pond, with a huge gunnera on the far banks.
Yellow flag iris flowerign beside a pond, with a huge gunnera on the far banks.

History of Ness Gardens

Arthur Kilpin Bulley earned his fortune as a cotton merchant in Liverpool. In 1897 he began building a house on the banks of the River Dee, near the small town of Neston. Then, the steep banks were open to the south-westerly winds blowing in from the Dee and the Irish Sea, though this area is protected from the worst weather by the proximity of the Welsh hills just over the Dee.

In 1904, he began running a nursery business from his garden, and employed people to collect seeds for the gardens from the Far East. By 1920, Bulley had added bowling greens, tennis courts and greenhouses which he allowed local people to use.

The gardens were neglected during World War II, but in 1948 Lois Bulley presented the gardens and an endowment to Liverpool University. The name 'Ness Gardens' was first used shortly after this, when the grounds were renovated. Since that time, Ness Botanical Gardens have become a popular international visitor attraction.

A winding path leads along steep terraced gardens and into the woodland area.
A winding path leads along steep terraced gardens and into the woodland area.
Ness Gardens is renowned for its colourful azaleas.
Ness Gardens is renowned for its colourful azaleas.
The woodland realm, where blue Himalayan poppies flower beside sturdy shrubbery.
The woodland realm, where blue Himalayan poppies flower beside sturdy shrubbery.

Discovering Ness Botanic Gardens

Ness Gardens offers a wide variety of gardens, from formal terraces to wild meadows, to tidy greenhouses for alpines and cacti to the rambling azalea and rhododendron borders, to herb gardens to shady woodland walks. There's even a maze mowed into long grass to keep the kids (of all ages!) happy.

Photographers and artists will be in their element here. This is an excellent site for landscape work.

If ponds are your thing, you'll be in for a treat. There are several ponds of various sizes scattered around the grounds. At one place, you can sit on a wooden boardwalk and dangle your tired feet in the water while adding your contribution to that days' wildlife spotting. There is a water garden, a waterfall, and also bigger ponds.

A herb garden is near to the famous laburnum and lilac walk. In spring, visitors can wander the length of this beautiful arched walk to admire the bright yellow and soft purple of the hanging blossoms.

There are also many species of tree such as Lombardy Poplars, Holm Oaks, Scots and Black Pines, which were planted by Arthur Bulley. Italian Alder and Common Holly were added later.

The gardens are seasonal, of course, but all year round there is something to enjoy.  When they're in bloom, the azaleas are an incredible blaze of colour, but there's plenty of colour throughout the whole year also, when summer plants come into their own, or when the trees have their autumnal shades.  Winter, too, has its own beauty.

 

Overlooking the lawns towards the greenhouses.
Overlooking the lawns towards the greenhouses.
Fabulous wisteria clings to an old cottage, now used as a workroom.
Fabulous wisteria clings to an old cottage, now used as a workroom.
Inside the cactus house at Ness Gardens, Wirral.
Inside the cactus house at Ness Gardens, Wirral.

Courses and Events at Ness Gardens

Ness Botanic Gardens offers a year-round events program.  There are also a number of courses to suit all levels of horticultural skill, plus guided walks by arrangement.  School groups and other groups are welcome.

Weddings within the gardens can also be arranged.

Contact Ness Gardens directly for details.

 

The laburnum and lilac walk is spectacular in spring.
The laburnum and lilac walk is spectacular in spring.

© 2010 Adele Cosgrove-Bray

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