Funding boost for Liverpool’s hidden horticultural treasure

A permanent home for Liverpool’s famous historic botanical collection is to be created after a successful funding bid.

Almost 12 months ago, concerns were raised regarding the future of a collection of exotic plants at Croxteth Hall, fearing they could be moved by Liverpool Council. Now, almost a quarter of a million pounds is to be used to create a lasting home for some of the city’s hidden treasures.

The city council has confirmed it has been successful with a bid to The National Lottery Heritage Fund which will now enable the development of a plan to create a permanent location for Liverpool’s Botanical Collection.

Dating back more than 200 years, the collection was founded by William Roscoe and named in his honour. The £245,000 grant will now enable the authority to develop and nurture the collection, located at Croxteth Hall’s walled garden, with a view to creating a leading visitor attraction.

Initial works will get underway to restore The Peach House (pictured above), which will become the gateway to the collection and house some of the key botanical exhibits. Currently in a state of disrepair, new glazing is required in order for it to be a suitable home for the hundreds of varieties of plant species in Liverpool’s ownership.

It is hoped that this funding will act as a catalyst for other funding pots that could enable the restoration of greenhouses and buildings to grow the collection, as well as education and training courses.

Liverpool Council is to work alongside the botanist team at National Museums Liverpool, as well as the city’s universities, to redevelop its rare orchid collections – with Liverpool being the first city to successfully propagate orchids more than 200 years ago.

The Botanic Collection at Croxteth Park has National Plant Collections status which recognises it as a globally respected collection. It has held the title since 1985 and includes Fuchsia, Codiaeum, Dracaena, and Solenostemon.

The collection is made up of thousands of different plants, including orchids, ferns, begonia and tropical species, which are all maintained by a small, dedicated number of gardeners based at the hall.

Cllr Harry Doyle, Liverpool Council cabinet member for health, wellbeing and culture, said, “We are massively proud of Liverpool’s Botanical Collection and this Heritage Fund grant is an essential stepping-stone to us making positive changes which will future-proof the collection, allowing it to develop and flourish. The botanical importance of this collection can never be underestimated – it includes rare plants that are of medical, educational, scientific and horticultural significance and as one of the oldest of its kind in the world, we need plans in place do it justice.

“It’s not good enough that it’s a hidden gem. We want this vital asset to bloom in every sense and for it to become yet another reason why we attract visitors to the city.

“We’re at the early stages of the project but our heritage team is already having encouraging conversations which will hopefully result in more funding which means we can make these ambitious plans a reality.”

Image: The Peach House at Croxteth Park ©Liverpool City Council  

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