Cory Lodge in the centre of the Botanic Garden is home to the curatorial and horticultural teams, and also houses the Cory Library collection of horticultural and taxonomic works.
Cory Lodge was built in 1924-5 with money given to the University by Reginald Cory, an alumnus of Trinity College, and was originally used as the residence of the Director of the Botanic Garden.
The Grade II-listed, neo-Georgian building with an arts and crafts edge was designed by the influential Cambridge architect M H Baillie-Scott (1865-1945). It plays a pivotal role in marking the conjunction between the original 1846 landscape and the ‘new area’, created from the 1950s on using the magnificent bequest from Reginald Cory to support its development. Pevsner (1970) describes Cory Lodge as ‘a rare example of what perfection the neo-Georgian or neo-Colonial style could attain in the hands of an exceptionally sensitive architect’.
Adjacent to the building is a superb specimen of Catalpa speciosa, an Indian bean tree from North America, with white flowers followed by long slender fruits. On the north wall of the house is a specimen of Ginkgo biloba, the Chinese maidenhair tree, trained as an espalier since 1987.
As part of the Sainsbury Laboratory project, Bradley-Hole Schoenaich Landscape Architects were commissioned to create a new landscape for Cory Lawn that, through structure and planting, creates a unifying, harmonising principle between the heritage and the contemporary.
A large central grass lawn is retained to set off Cory Lodge, but the sloped lawn flanking edges have been re-graded and segmented by rectangular bluffs of yew, clipped at differing heights into interlocking geometric shapes. This strong design reflects the structural formalism of the Sainsbury Laboratory and yet frames Cory Lodge.
The formal architectural yew bluffs contrast to the informal exuberance of the herbaceous plantings. The plantings are designed as a basal matrix of grasses, ferns and ground-covering perennials punctuated by flowering emergents to provide an ever-changing palette of colour and form through the year. Snowdrops precede tulips that are followed by irises, salvias, asters and late-flowering red hot pokers, all against a foil of flowing foliage and flowers from the grasses. Even in winter the architectural stems and spent flowerheads of the summer perennials extend the season, rimed with frost.
To reflect the different conditions around the rectangle of Cory Lawn, two mixes are used - one for shade, the other for sun. The planting list is available to download from the link left.