Belfast Botanic Gardens Tropical Ravine

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The restored Tropical Ravine is now open.
This complex project has been possible thanks to finance from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Belfast City Council and the Friends of Belfast Botanic Gardens. During the work, stakeholder groups have been permitted a 'hard-hat' visit to view progress. We were impressed by the high standard of the building work which is very sensitive to the historic nature of the building. For example the replaced key stones over the windows closely match the originals, the new doorway that has been cut in the south wall has the same ornamental brickwork as used elsewhere in the original. Even the new guttering is the correct style. Inside much of the original stone work was been re-instated, although path widths have been increased to allow access. The modern hi-tec heating and misting system is already having a beneficial effect on the planting.

The state of the ravine before restoration. The roof had become so precarious that it was necessary to close the ravine and to cover the roof with a net to prevent stray sheets of glass crashing on to the gardens outside. It was also becoming increasingly difficult to maintain adequate temperature control for the plants
ravine roof before restoration ravine roof before restoration
Ravine roof before restoration Bushes growing out of east gable wall brickwork
Damaged north wall of Ravine building window opening
Damaged north wall of Ravine Detail of old glass roof
The Restoration
The first stage of the restoration project was the removal of plants to the safety of the working greenhouses behind the Palm House. Some of the larger plants were moved into the Palmhouse and a few had to remain in the Ravine where they were protected from the weather and from the building work by individual plastic covers and heaters.
Structural details of the stone work were revealed as work progressed.

Inside after removal of some plants Inside of ravine
Removal of some of the plants revealed original stonework The cascade was operated for the last time
Inside after removal of some plants Inside of ravine
A cycad remained in situ during the building work The tropical zone partially stripped back
Rebuilding begins
Clearing rubble and plants was a long and painstaking process. Most of the original peat blocks were retained as a possible 'spore bank' of moss and fern spores. Serious deterioration of foundations and wall were carefully repaired.
The Friends Group, and other stakeholder groups had the privilege of visiting the site on a few occasions to see progress

hardhat visit 16 March 2017 hardhat visit 16 March 2017
Hard hat visit to Tropical Ravine March 2017 16 March 2017
new door in south wall window opening
New doorway in south wall Detail of window head
new glass gable wall
Installation of glass almost completed Gable wall awaits its glazing
inside stonework
Stonework and new paths Replaced stone work inside and new planting beds

For information on the earlier history of the Tropical Ravine see our Ravine History page

For pictures of the opening ceremony see our Ravine Opening page

For information on the plants in the Ravine see our Ravine Plants page