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Milestones and noteworthy events at Sheffield Botanical Gardens

A Real Magical Christmas, 15th & 16th December 2007

“ Crowds flock to gardens magic” (Sheffield Telegraph Friday 21st December 2007…)

A Real Magical Christmas at the Sheffield Botanical Gardens  - © Meg Jullien

Organisers estimated 20,000 to 25,000 people donned their woolly hats and thermal gloves, to brave sub-zero temperatures in the Christmas-lit Botanical Gardens. For the second year running, the Gardens played host to “A Real Magical Christmas”, helping to raise funds for the Sheffield Children’s Hospital Charity. From late afternoon to early evening there were carollers, fairground rides, provided free by local operator William Percival, and stallholders selling seasonal fare and crafts. There was even an appearance by Father Christmas and a couple of his reindeer in Santa’s Workshop.

Christmas lights and trees contribute to the magical atmosphere - © Meg Jullien
The event was organised by Sheffield City Council and Sheffield Botanical Gardens staff. Fundraising was co-ordinated by the Rotary Club of Sheffield. Other sponsors were Real Radio and The Star. David Vernon-Edwards, speaking on behalf of the Sheffield Children’s Hospital Charity said:

“It was definitely a special experience. Normally the Botanical Gardens are locked at night so we hope everyone enjoyed the chance to see the gardens lit up at night time.”

Around £15,000 was raised, which will go towards the current Sheffield Children’s Hospital target of £250,000 for medical research.


4th Annual Art in the Gardens 1st and 2nd September, 2007

Art in the Gardens 2007, Dave Berry with winning portrait - © Meg Jullien

Around 15,000 visitors flocked to the Gardens over a weekend of mixed weather, to see more than 4,000 works of art by 350 artists and craftsmen from all over the UK. This event has become the most prestigious outdoor art event in the country.

Celebrity pop singer Dave Berry officially opened the event on preview night and was the subject in the Celebrity Portrait competition. The first prize winner of the competition, after much deliberation, was Lynne Wilkinson from Summerley, Derbyshire.

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Yorkshire in Bloom awards 2007

The results for Yorkshire in Bloom 2007 were announced at the Award Ceremony in Hull on September 4th 2007. The Sheffield Botanical Gardens was awarded an individual silver. The judges particularly admired the displays in the Botanical Gardens. “Maurice Baren, chairman of Yorkshire in Bloom said that, in the city category, Sheffield was outstanding and gained the only gold.” (Sheffield Telegraph 7th September 2007)

Sheffield has been chosen to represent the county in next year’s Britain in Bloom.

Heartbreak Theatre Productions - Summer 2007

Heartbreak returned to the Gardens again this year in June and July with four of their innovative and entertaining productions. The productions were Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice and Twelfth Night, The Wizard of Oz and Cry Blue Murder, an Agatha Christie spoof set in the 1920’s.

In spite of the inclement weather at times, it was a most successful season and most performances were fully booked. As usual the lawns at the Thompson Road end of the Gardens were packed with people enjoying their picnics and watching the performers, who never let the public down however difficult the conditions!

Heartbreak will return to the Gardens again next summer with another varied programme – to be announced in due course.

© Meg Jullien Members of the cast perform the Merchant of Venice.

Green Flag award 2007

The Liveability Minister, Baroness Kay Andrews, announced on the 21st July 2007 that the Sheffield Botanical Gardens had received the Green Flag award for 2007. Congratulations and thanks to all concerned.

The Green Flag is the national benchmark for quality parks and green spaces and winners are judged to be welcoming, safe and well maintained with the strong involvement of the local community.

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Royal Horticultural Society Harlow Carr Medal awarded to Arroll Winning, President of FOBS

The prestigious RHS Harlow Carr Medal was awarded to Arroll Winning, President of FOBS, at the RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park on Wednesday 18th July 2007 by RHS President Peter Buckley.

The RHS Harlow Carr Medal is awarded for outstanding contributions to horticulture in the north of England.The RHS is the UK’s leading gardening charity and its annual awards recognise the dedication and commitment of some of the world’s greatest horticulturalists. Arroll Winning receives the award in recognition of outstanding and distinctive service to horticulture in the north of England, in particular for his work at Sheffield Parks and Sheffield Botanical Gardens

RHS President Peter Buckley said “the RHS annual awards aim to recognise those who help to develop the rich diversity and understanding of plants and gardens that make our world a better place.”
Arroll Winning receiving the RHS Harlow Carr Medal from the RHS President Peter Buckley - © Hellmuth Kohler Arroll Winning receiving the RHS Harlow Carr Medal from the RHS President Peter Buckley, along with Hugh McAllister from Ness Botanic Gardens, the other recipient of the medal on the 18th July at Tatton Park)
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Jazz in the Gardens 11th and 12th July and Classical in the Gardens 14th July 2007

The view from the orchestra at Classical in the Gardens, July 2007 - © Graham Wright Around 4,000 people enjoyed the three events at the Gardens held on three lovely summer evenings with only one shower. The organizers, the Rotary Club of Sheffield in association with the Sheffield City Council, were delighted with the turnout for the events, which raised around £12,000 in total for Macmillan Cancer Relief and other Rotary Charities including the Sheffield Botanical Gardens Trust.
“We must have had the best weather for a month” said David Pollard, spokesman for Rotary Club of Sheffield. There were several excellent refreshments stalls and bars and people enjoyed picnicking on the lawns and listening to the music.

The jazz evenings featured a range of musical styles from the New Orleans Strollers, Bad Boy Ludlum, Joel White’s 5 piece, Nicole Farnon and the Dizzy Club amongst many other artistes.
Crowds dance in the gathering dusk at Jazz in the Gardens, July 2007 - © Graham Wright

The Sterndale Singers performing at Classical in the gardens, July 2007 - © Meg Jullien

The Classical evening featured the Sheffield Philharmonic Orchestra with a varied programme of Dvorak, Rossini, Tchaikovsky, Borodin and Smetana and included several arias from Bizet’s Carmen. The Sterndale Singers gave a 45 minute programme of musicals, madrigals, Negro spirituals, English part songs and American traditional.

The events will be held in the Gardens again next year 2008.



People, Plants and Pavilions


“Potted history of city landmark – this book documents the 171 year history of Botanical Gardens” (Yorkshire Post, 4th June 2007).

The Botanical Gardens in Sheffield have been a treasured city landmark since the early 19th Century. Now a book has been written documenting the history of the Gardens on Clarkehouse Road “People, Plants and Pavilions” by R. Alison Hunter, a Friends of the Botanical Gardens, Sheffield (FOBS) Committee member. Published by FOBS, the book documents the high times and the low points for the Gardens, which first opened in 1836. Alison Hunter, said: “I fully enjoyed the research and spent many hours in the Sheffield Archives and Local Studies Library. It took me eight months to research and two months to write”.

Alison Hunter signing copies of her new book

The book was sponsored by the Sheffield Botanical Gardens Trust, FOBS and the Yorkshire Gardens Trust. To celebrate their 10th anniversary year, the Yorkshire Gardens Trust is giving £3,500 in grants to historic parks and gardens across Yorkshire. FOBS are the first recipient of a £500 grant, for their up-dated publication on the gardens and the first curator Robert Marnock. A spokesperson for Yorkshire Gardens Trust said: “We are very pleased to be assisting so many groups of other volunteers working as hard as we are for our parks and gardens heritage and we are especially proud to support the long-standing efforts of FOBS and the wonderful restoration work at these most significant botanical gardens."

The book launch, held on the 10th June 2007 was a great success, with many copies signed by the author being sold. The £4.95 book is available at the Gatehouse Gift Shop at the Gardens, many outlets in the Sheffield area, the Tourist Information Office and at all FOBS events.


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This page updated on 12 January 2010. This site updated on 19 November 2012.