Isle of Man could get globally important botanic garden if application approved

Private developer is seeking planning permission to create a botanic garden on a 28ha site at Stanton on the Isle of Man.

Island garden: developer’s plan - image: Richmond Square Design
Island garden: developer’s plan - image: Richmond Square Design

A high-end property developer has submitted a planning application for a new privately funded botanic garden of "global standing" on a 28ha site on the Isle of Man.

Richmond Square Design has submitted the plans to the Isle of Man Government on behalf of billionaire businessman and philanthropist Mark Shuttleworth, who was the first South African in space.

Shuttleworth, who now lives at Santon on the island, is planning "to create a botanical centre of excellence of global standing with a series of interlinked external spaces which reflect, protect and promote temperate broadleaf and mixed forest biomes".

Collaborators on the project, at Mallards Estate, Santon, include landscape architect Gross Max and Japanese garden designer Shunmyo Masuno. Shuttleworth is also in discussions with natural swimming pool expert Peter Petrich and plans to consult perennial landscape specialist Piet Oudolf.

Propagation facilities, to supply "a substantial and constant seasonal supply of plants and flowers" are proposed, as well as support facilities for six gardening staff.

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) horticulture director Dr David Rae has "agreed in principle a long-term partnership with the proposed gardens, providing access to the knowledge base of RBGE".

The design team is also hoping to establish a working relationship with Ness Botanic Gardens.

The design concept is influenced by the temperate broadleaf and mixed forest natural biome classification of the Isle of Man and intends to incorporate local materials and be "sympathetic to the existing topography".

A decision on the planning application is expected from the island's planning committee in September.

Garden features

Shuttleworth's head gardener Andrew Inglis, previously head gardener at Balmoral Castle, is working with the developers on the project. Features for the proposed garden include a Japanese garden, water cascade, boglands, wetlands, a lake, natural swimming pool, a sensory garden designed with local charities and an amphitheatre.

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