Origins of the Winter Garden

In the past, Winter Garden was the name given to a conservatory or glasshouse range that housed tropical plants for the enjoyment of plants during the winter months.  Public Winter Gardens became popular in the 19th century with the construction of the Regent’s Park Winter Gardens.  The Crystal Palace and Park, designed by the renowned Chatsworth House head gardener Sir Joseph Paxton in 1851, was designed to house the Great Exhibition.  It was effectively a giant glasshouse set into an elaborate public park, complete with fountains, cascades and sculpted models of dinosaurs.

IMG_8394Today, Palm Houses and Winter Gardens are two different aspects of the Cambridge University Botanic Garden. The Tropical Palm Houses contain plants with dramatic rainforest foliage, typical of tropical rainforest regions.  They are welcoming places in winter as they are heated to keep the plants at optimum temperatures.  Modern Winter Gardens are outdoor landscapes, often consisting of native British flora, that create attractive displays during the cold winter months. The Botanic Garden offers the opportunity to experience both kinds of displays.