A haven in the middle of the city
The finish of the Tour de France British stages did not show Sheffield off at its best. The steel city was shown on television to be a disused industrial wasteland behind Meadowhall, when a lot of people thought the race should finish in the city itself. The winter garden is not so much a hidden gem as a polished one with its large glass roof, in fact it is one of the largest temperate glasshouses in the UK and the largest urban greenhouse anywhere in Europe!
The garden contains more than a whopping 2500 plants as well as sculptures and temporary exhibits. Despite its giant size, 70 metres long by 22 metres high, when you walk through the doors it instantly feels warm, peaceful and intimate. The clever layout with the plants down the centre provides you with a sense of seclusion as you walk around that feels far from the hustle and bustle outside.
As well as being green on the inside the building’s structure has been carefully considered. The wood used in the frame is larch, in time this will turn silvery grey, and it was sourced from sustainable forests. Due to its durability there was no need to add a preservative or coating to the wood, reducing the use of solvents and chemicals that might be harmful to the plants. The building also has an intelligent management system to control the fans and vents making sure the temperature is maintained appropriately.
Access is excellent with disabled entrances at either end. The interior is spacious to accommodate any user, although it does get a little more crowded when the Millennium Gallery has special events on. If it does get crowded you can always take a break at Zooby’s Sandwich Deli & Fairtrade Coffee Bar on the Surrey Street end of the garden – they do a very nice nonalcoholic mulled wine to keep your insides warm when the outside’s cold.
The best thing about the garden is that the plants are regularly updated, up to five times a year, to give you something different to enjoy on each visit. We’ll be heading back with a book to sit on one of the many interior park benches soon!
The garden is open from 8am until 8pm Monday to Saturday and 8am until 6pm on Sundays.