Mr Roscoe’s Garden at the Bluecoat

Photo: William Roscoe (played by actor Mark Smith) in his greenhouse

This beautiful little garden is only at the Bluecoat for a few days, I doubt that most of the tropical plants would survive much longer anyway.

Many years ago Liverpool was famous for its iconic ‘fab four’ but they were orchids not musicians and Liverpool’s botanic gardens were the envy of the rest of the UK but it was a constant battle to sustain and eventually closed in 1984.

The collection still exists and is well cared for so maybe this project will eventually lead to it being re-established, I hope so.

The exhibit which won Liverpool a silver medal at last month’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show is on public display in the Bluecoat garden until Sunday 22 June 2008

Liverpool’s appearance at the 2008 Chelsea Flower Show – the city’s first in nearly 40 years – was a key part of the Fragrant project, a major commission for European Capital of Culture 2008 led by artist Jyll Bradley. The Liverpool Culture Company commissioned Jyll to work as ‘artist in residence’ at the city’s Botanical Collection during 2007 and 2008 to uncover its 200-year-old history for the first time. Fragrant will culminate in September with the publication of a special book and accompanying photographic exhibition by Jyll Bradley at Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery.


Mr Roscoe’s Garden was inspired by William Roscoe, who founded Liverpool’s Botanical Collection in 1803. Acknowledged as one of the city’s greatest sons, Roscoe’s passion for plants ensured that Liverpool’s Botanical Collection acquired international significance.

Following the Bluecoat, Mr Roscoe’s Garden will continue its tour of the north west, visiting the RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park, Cheshire between July 23 and 27; and Southport Flower Show between August 21 – 24.

About Mr Roscoe’s Garden: Central to the garden is a small greenhouse, emulating Liverpool’s first botanic garden. Inside the structure is a selection of Roscoea plants – the Himalayan genus named after Roscoe by James E. Smith, founder of The Linnean Society. The planting used in the exhibit is naturalistic – a historic characteristic of Liverpool’s Botanical Collection – and includes the much-famed Orchids, Bromeliads and Ferns; plants from Liverpool’s current National Collections; and economic plants, which Roscoe cultivated in an effort to find new ways to feed the world and create prosperity for Liverpool and beyond.

The exhibit includes plants which have played a significant role in the Botanical Collection’s history, some of which have not actually been part of the collection for a number of years, so staff in Liverpool’s Parks and Environment Service have enlisted the support of their counterparts in other gardens to help re-introduce species.

Liverpool Botanical Collection has not been on display in its entirety since 1984. In August 2007, approximately one-third of the plants and flowers were put back on public view at Croxteth Hall & Country Park, including the once world-famous orchid collection. The rest of the collection will remain in nurseries for the time being, with the intention of reuniting it in a permanent home at some point in the future.

Jyll Bradley is a visual artist working with photography, text and installation. For more information visit