Belfast Botanic Gardens
Global Medicine Garden - the development in 2019/2020
The Global Medicine Garden is a joint project between the Botanic Gardens Management (Belfast City Council) and the Friends of Belfast Botanic Gardens. In 2019, Friends of Belfast Botanic Gardens were given the go-ahead by our Garden Focus Group for the creation of a Global Medicine Garden in an enclosed site next to the newly restored Tropical Ravine. A pioneering project, this initiative is the first of its kind in the Gardens. The site chosen is an enclosed area at the South-West end of the Tropical Ravine. It had been cleared as a materials store during the building work and had a temporary planting of heathers.
Our enterprise references the collection of medicinal herbs that was a feature of the Victorian Botanic Gardens and described by the then Curator Daniel Ferguson and marked on the plan in his guide to the Gardens of 1851.
The Global Medicine Garden will provide a focal point for tours of the Gardens together with generating materials for workshop sessions for school parties and groups, as well as bringing in a fresh range of plant species, much of it donated by members and friends.
Our volunteer gardening team have enjoyed sociable and productive days as the hard physical work on site has proceeded over two years' late autumn and winter.
So far, around 80 species (some 200 plants), all with herbal associations, from around the globe have been planted and are being accessioned. Throughout the project we have benefitted from co-operation and support from council and gardening staff. We look forward to further ground work and planting in spring.
A recent view of the garden from the roof of the Ulster Museum.
Following construction work during the restoration of the Tropical Ravine, the ground was compacted and in combination with the clay soil this lead to serious waterlogging. The first task therefore was drainage and soil improvement.
Site and soil improvement was carried out during the winter of 2019/2020.
Waterlogging before drainage
Taking a break, 19 October 2019
Materials barrowed on to the site for soil improvement 16 November 2019
Planting began in February and March 2020, but this was brought to a halt by the covid-19 restrictions. The garden was more or less untouched for 8 months until October 2020 when a small team of three, observing the appropriate precautions, were able to start clearing months of weed growth which had covered the area in a solid green blanket.
Carpet of weeds developed during the covid lockdown
Docks, thistles and more...
The weeds have now been cleared allowing plants to thrive. Here are some of the area beds now ready for further planting as soon as we are able to access the area.
Yarrow (Achillea) in early November, 2020
Cardoon and lovage in the Europe bed, November 2020
More plants for the garden continue to be sourced and propagated off site; further planting is again on hold as we enter another period of lock-down at the start of 2021.
Updates, information on herbs, plant lists and more will follow as the project gets under way in 2021.