- Ventnor Botanic Garden
Ventnor Botanic Garden is a
botanic gardenlocated in Ventnor, Isle of Wight. It was founded in 1970, by Sir Harold Hillier, and donated to the Isle of Wight Council. The garden is free to visit, except for parking charges.
Its collection comprises worldwide
temperateand subtropical trees and shrubs organised by region. These grow in the open air, the location favoured by the moist and sheltered microclimateof the south-facing Undercliff landslip area on the Isle of Wight coast.
The garden is on the site of the Royal National Hospital for Diseases of the Chest, a
sanatoriumthat was established there to exploit the same mild climate. Founded by Arthur Hill Hassalland opened in 1869 as the National Cottage Hospital for Consumption and Diseases of the Chest, it offered 130 separate south-facing bedrooms for its patients. The hospital was closed in 1964, made obsolete by drug treatment of tuberculosis, and demolished in 1969. [Laidlaw, E. F. (1990). "The Story of the Royal National Hospital Ventnor", Newport: E. F. Laidlaw, ISBN 9781872981079.]
In 1970, the site was initially redeveloped as the Steephill Pleasure Gardens before Sir Harold Hillier's involvement in its more extensive development as a botanical garden. Despite the generally mild weather, plants had to be carefully selected to tolerate the shallow alkaline soil and salt winds, and the garden suffered serious damage in the unusually hard winter of 1986/7 and the
Great Storm of 1987and the major storm of January 1990. The garden is still owned and managed by the Isle of Wight Council, and continues to develop with numerous new features. The current curator of the garden is Simon Goodenough.
The garden is located on the
A3055 road, has a large car park, and public transport is provided by buses on Southern Vectis' route 6 and Wightbus' route 16.
In September 2008, a 40 year old woman died after eating "
Amanita phalloides" that a friend had picked in the gardens. [cite news |first= Aislinn|last= Simpson|title= One woman dead and another seriously ill after eating Death Cap mushrooms|url= http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2978434/One-woman-dead-and-another-seriously-ill-after-eating-Death-Cap-mushrooms.html|publisher= " The Telegraph"|date= 2008- 09-18|accessdate=2008-09-18 ] During the police investigation, the gardens were closed as a precaution, but the police did not believe that the death was suspicious. In a statement, a spokesman for the Isle of Wight council said "While the circumstances are currently being investigated, it appears a large quantity of wild mushrooms, including the toxic death cap mushroom, were collected from the vicinity of Ventnor Botanic Garden earlier this week and subsequently eaten. The death cap mushroom is not cultivated by Ventnor Botanic Garden — no mushrooms or fungi form part of the displays — but is believed to have been growing wild in the 22-acre site. Death cap mushrooms are a common species found all over the island and the UK." [cite news |first= Lucy|last= Bannerman|title= Woman dies after eating mushrooms picked at Ventnor Botanical Gardens|url= http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/food_and_drink/article4776387.ece|publisher= " The Times"|date= 2008- 09-18|accessdate=2008-09-18 ]
* [http://www.botanic.co.uk/ Official website]
* [http://wightundercliff.mine.nu Website with old pictures of the Undercliff of the Isle of Wight]
* [http://www.ventnor.shalfleet.net/ventnor_approaches.htm Ventnor approaches] "Isle of Wight Historic Postcards" page with images of the Royal National Hospital.
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