Garden and Arboretum
At the University of Leicester Botanic Garden & Attenborough Arboretum, we focus on global biodiversity. You can see and learn about a wide range of plants that grow in our extensive collections from around the world.
We are fundamentally an academic institution engaged in teaching and research. Our mission is to:
- Maintain the most diverse garden in the region, in terms of plants, conservation collections, landscape features, and historically and architecturally important buildings;
- Underpin scientific research and teaching at the University;
- Devise and provide education programmes aimed at all age groups, reaching out into the wider community to demonstrate the contemporary significance of plants in a rapidly changing world.
Founded in 1921 with the assistance of the Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society, the University of Leicester Botanic Garden was established on its present site in Oadby in 1947. It comprises the grounds of four houses: Beaumont, Southmeade, The Knoll and Hastings, which were built early this century and are now used as student residences.
The four once-separate gardens have been merged into a single entity, whose 16 acres of lovingly cultivated grounds and greenhouses, display a wide variety of features and environments. The formal planting centres around a restored Edwardian garden.
Other planting includes an arboretum, a herb garden, woodland and herbaceous borders, rock gardens, a water garden, special collections of Skimmia, Aubrieta, and hardy Fuchsia, and a series of glasshouses displaying temperate and tropical plants, alpines and succulents.
The plant collections and landscape features make this garden one of the most diverse in the region. The water features and sculptures are particularly pleasing and add character to the setting. It is the perfect place for a pleasant walk and there are benches for those who simply wish to relax and admire the surroundings. Variety is the key to this garden's strength.
The Attenborough Arboretum is a satellite facility of the Botanic Garden. Opened on 23 April 1997 by Sir David Attenborough, it occupies about five acres in the old village of Knighton, and forms part of the land that used to belong to Home Farm.
Now swallowed up by Leicester, the Arboretum site features one of the few surviving examples in the city of a medieval ridge-and-furrow field, and also contains two large ponds, complete with a board-walk. The planting scheme is designed to display our native trees in the sequence in which they arrived in this country following the ending of the last ice-age, approximately 10,000 years ago. Managed as a 'wild' site, we encourage you to record any interesting wildlife in the Arboretum on the Nature Spot website (http://www.naturespot.org.uk/wild-place/attenborough-arboretum), where you can see a list of species that have been identified.
Importantly for schools and other visiting groups, the Arboretum includes a fully-equipped, purpose-built classroom, with access for disabled people.