Spotlight on… our grounds and gardens

June 5th, 2018

The University grounds team has taken steps to boost and futureproof our collection of cannas — a vibrant flowering plant that is a regular feature of UoN’s summer planting schemes.

From 1994-2004, the University of Nottingham held a National Collection of Canna, which was located in the Highfields walled garden. However, the collection was largely destroyed after suffering from canna virus. Following this, canna propagation continued in the grounds greenhouse with the surviving canna cultivars, and cannas have remained a regular feature of UoN’s summer planting schemes.

More recently the University has been working to increase its canna collection and has also helped increase a National Collection and donated cannas to a local National Trust garden of historic significance.

This progress started early in 2018 when members of the University’s grounds team met staff from Hart Canna — the holder of the Plant Heritage National Collection of cannas — at the Malvern Spring Festival Garden Show.

Discussions ensued and it was found that both the University of Nottingham grounds greenhouse and Hart’s nursery had canna cultivars that the other was missing. With this knowledge in mind, a swap of canna rhizomes was arranged with the aim of increasing both collections.

UoN gardener Matthew Gyles, who organised the swap, explains that as a result, “We now have three new canna cultivars for the University grounds. One of the new cannas, ‘Russian Red’ can grow up to three metres tall and will be a striking new addition to the University’s grounds.”

In addition a link has been forged between the University of Nottingham grounds and the National Trust at Belton House near Grantham. The Italian garden at Belton is currently being gradually returned to its prime, with a Victorian layout and appearance. Following dialogue between the University and Belton House’s Head Gardener, Jon Lawrance, the University of Nottingham grounds greenhouse has donated heritage canna cultivars (hybridised between 1890s and early 1900s) to Belton to help in the restoration of its internationally historic garden.

The heritage cannas are a very welcome and period correct addition to the Italian garden. Meanwhile, the University’s grounds greenhouse has increased its own collection further by receiving cuttings from four cultivars of abutilon growing in the Belton House orangery.

In addition to helping a historic garden, donating cannas will also help preserve cultivars. As a result of donating the University of Nottingham has secured a source of canna rhizomes should we be unlucky enough to see a widespread return of canna virus or another collection threatening occurrence.

For more information about the University’s grounds and gardens, visit

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June 6th, 2018 at 9:55 am

Justine Schneider

I look forward to the arrival of the summer bedding plants each year. This morning as I cycled past I was excited to see that the plants were being unpacked and prepared for placement in the bed near the north entrance. The canna lilies are a highlight of the display, adding their height and a touch of the exotic. But the whole is greater than the sum of its parts; the combination of shapes, textures and colours, which somehow remains perfect throughout the season, always makes me smile on my way past. The end of the summer is marked for me by the lifting of the wonderful display, this always seems too soon.

June 7th, 2018 at 1:38 pm

Tracy Leavesley

How lovely that our grounds team are building a reputation outside the University and engaging with the National Trust to work collaboratively to maintain plant stocks. The grounds are something which always bring positive comments on Open Days from parents and potential students and always cheer me up on my morning drive through the campus. Keep up the good work!

June 12th, 2018 at 1:58 pm

Shelly Rigby

The groundsmen do an amazing job – the flower, plant and tree displays on main campus are just wonderful, and we are very lucky people to work in such an environment.

June 13th, 2018 at 11:57 am


The grounds team at Jubilee work tirelessly, in all weathers to ensure that we have a beautiful campus to enjoy.
Everywhere is clean,tidy and well tended. A brilliant job being done by all. Thank You

June 14th, 2018 at 10:08 am

Roderick Cable

The Gardens and Grounds are the best bit of the whole University. Can QMC part of the University please have a fraction of this on ‘our side’ of the A52? as we really miss out.
thank you

June 18th, 2018 at 2:18 pm

Donna Jones

Do you have a blog or a web page for us novice gardeners, giving us tips and hints on what we should be doing and when. From the results on show you guys are clearly experts in your field so guidance would be much appreaciated

February 5th, 2023 at 10:00 am

Michael Hall

As a new beekeeper of 2020 I noticed the bees are bringing in quite a bit of pollen for this time of the year ,5 5th February 2023….. Of course I think this is fantastic but I am very interested to know where on earth are they getting it from? Are they getting it from the university flora ?
I have always been in awe of bees and feel our bees are in a very favourable position here within 350 metres of Wollaton Park and not much further to the university where they have access to chemical free

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