Glasgow Botanic Gardens is located in the heart of the city’s West End by the River Kelvin and contains a variety of plant collections, woodland copses and riverside walks as well as the famous Kibble Palace.
The gardens were founded in 1817 by Thomas Hopkirk and run by the Royal Botanic Institution of Glasgow in conjunction with the University of Glasgow. The original garden was on an eight acre site at the western end of Sauchiehall Street, but the expansion of its plant collections meant a new site was purchased in the west end by the River Kelvin in 1839. In 1981 the gardens were incorporated into the Parks and Gardens of the City of Glasgow. The gardens are now internationally renowned for their architecturally impressive glasshouses and extensive plant collections.
One of the highlights is Kibble Palace, a nineteenth century wrought iron framed glasshouse. The glasshouse was originally a conservatory at inventor John Kibble's home until the early 1870s, before being moved by barge up the Clyde to its new home. At first it was used as a exhibition and concert venue, but has contained growing plants since the 1880s. It now houses the National Collection of Tree Ferns, some of which have been there for 120 years. The Kibble Palace also contains various marble statues, the most famous of which is by Scottish sculptor George Henry Paulin.
The gardens also contain several other glasshouses and plant collections such as the National Collection of Begonias and Dendrobium, as well as an extensive array of medicinal and other plants. Plants from tropical rainforests are grown in the Palm House. There is also a Children's Garden and play area within the gardens, as well as various woodland and riverside walks. The gardens were once served by a railway and the derelicts remains of the Botanics Gardens Railway Station can still be seen. The Botanic Gardens Tearoom is situated in the former curator's house near Kibble Palace. Various art exhibitions are held in the Tearoom throughout the year and a variety of events take place in the gardens throughout the year.