Isle of Man gardens to break new ground

Work due to start in spring on 32ha botanic gardens funded by billionaire South African philanthropist Mark Shuttleworth.

The Mallards: architects and designers of international importance
The Mallards: architects and designers of international importance

A multi-million pound botanic gardens landscape development funded by an astronaut has been granted planning consent.

The Mallards landscape development works on the Isle of Man will start this spring. The scheme will feature landscape architects and designers of international importance.

Billionaire businessman and philanthropist Mark Shuttleworth, who was the first South African to go into space, is privately funding the 32ha botanic garden.

Richmond Square Design submitted the initial plans to the Isle of Man Government (HW, 16 August 2013), but Gross Max has come up with a final-version masterplan, which has now secured consent from planners on the Isle of Man. Garden designers Sarah Price and Shunmyo Masuno are also involved in the project.

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, a Manx glen and an orchard with involvement from Price.

Inglis and David Mitchell from Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh hope to "change the face of botanic gardens in the 21st century regarding new techniques".

Inglis explained that the Mallards is a garden with botanical content rather than a botanical garden.

He added: "One aim of the project is to look at aspects of botanical gardens to see if they can be developed like interpretation and the delivery of information, wider access to data and how plant groupings are provided for education and enjoyment."

Plants will be sourced through other botanic gardens and from specialist nurseries. He said heavy works will take five years and "establishment 50 years".

Inglis said: "This will highlight the importance private funding plays. When funding is available it makes things a lot more streamlined and direct as opposed to having to raise funds in the first place.

He added: "While the funding is private and the overall cost is considerable, I still need to acknowledge the capital and management expenditures.

"Conservation education has driven a lot of this and that's why access is being considered in the design."

Background work has started, with civil engineering beginning in May. The garden will be open to the public by invitation, for interested parties and on set occasions each year.

Record Breaker

Saudi Arabia is set to lay the foundation stone for the King Abdullah International Gardens in Riyadh this week, with plans for the facility set to include the world's largest botanical gardens. At 2.5 million square metres, it will be five times the size of Cornwall's Eden Project.


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