2023 is a special year for Ness Botanic Gardens as it is a double anniversary – 125 years since the gardens were founded by Arthur Bulley in 1898, and 75 years since ‘Bulley’s Garden’ became the University of Liverpool’s Botanic Garden in 1948.
Arthur Kilpin Bulley was one of the greatest sponsors of plant collectors in the twentieth century, and he not only laid the foundations of Ness Botanic Gardens but changed the face of British gardening.
Born in 1861, Bulley developed an ardent fascination with plants, particularly the hardier varieties and Alpine species. In 1898, Bulley bought farmland in Ness where he would go on to develop a family home, house, and gardens.
In 1948 his daughter Lois Agnes Bulley bequeathed the gardens to the University of Liverpool following her father’s death. 26 November marks the 75th anniversary of Ness as a University botanic garden.
As part of the celebrations and to bring the story alive the Ness Gardens team have created a timeline of key events through the history of the gardens.
There are various celebratory events to enjoy through the year, and visitors can look forward to free guided walks to discover more about the gardens, its history, and the many seasonal highlights. Tours take place on the second and third Saturday of every month, and booking is essential as places are limited to 16 people per tour.
As part of the celebrations, there will be a free lecture on Sunday 30 April from botanist and plantsman Dr Hugh McAllister, exploring the rich array of plants that have been introduced through Ness. Free tickets can be booked via the online store
Another highlight of the anniversary year will be the celebratory Summer Flower Show taking place on Sunday 20 August featuring six prize categories and lots of horticultural and creative fun.
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Ness Botanic Gardens was born of one man’s passionate interest in plants and his desire to share that interest with others. As we celebrate our double anniversary we look forward to welcoming visitors, new and old, to explore our wonderful botanic garden, with 64 acres of diverse landscapes and plants full of wildlife that call it home.
The gardens are only 30 minutes from Liverpool and 20 minutes from Chester. The gardens can be accessed by car, rail, cycle, or bus.
Admission costs just £1 for University of Liverpool students – but please remember to bring your student ID card. The gardens are open from 10am every day until dusk, with last entry at 4.30pm.
Click here to find out more about Ness Gardens and what’s on this year.