Cambridge University Botanic Garden maintains a remarkable range of living plant diversity within a nexus of departments and institutions, hosting one of the largest concentrations of plant scientists anywhere in the world. Central to our success is the recognition that our Living Collections support world-class education, learning and research, and in doing so, help to solve some of society’s most pressing concerns.
Our Living Collections have their origin in 1762 when the first University Botanic Garden was established in the centre of Cambridge, on about five acres of land, at what is today known as the New Museums Site. The garden was conceived as a typical Renaissance physic garden and grew herbaceous plants used in the teaching of medical students at the University. As the discipline of botany grew at Cambridge under the watchful eye of John Stevens Henslow, the argument was made for a larger botanic garden on its current forty acre site.
The new collections were laid down in 1834 in an innovative and scientific manner. The garden and its landscapes subsequently went on to support seminal work in plant genetics, plant physiology and plant pathology through much of the 20th century. Now in the 21st century, Plant Science at Cambridge continues to grow in strength, through the combined work of the Department of Plant Sciences, the National Institute of Agricultural Botany, the Sainsbury Laboratory at Cambridge University, and the newly founded Cambridge Centre for Crop Science. Within this context, the collections, facilities and expertise at Cambridge University Botanic Garden continue to support a vast array of activities.
Our Living Collections are curated to the highest standards and used extensively by colleagues both at Cambridge University and external Higher Education institutions. Our reach is truly global, with projects currently undertaken with partners across the world from Central Asia to South Africa. Research based on our collections forms the basis of fundamental and applied science, supports publications with broad and substantial impact, and underpins international research networks funded by national and regional funding agencies. With over 300,000 visitors each year, we showcase our collections-based research, with our education programme, interpretation strategy and public events enriched by the inclusion of research material.