More green space is vital for residents of the city’s new apartment blocks, says Birmingham Botanical Gardens boss, James Wheeler
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
I’m James Wheeler, chief executive and curator of Birmingham Botanical Gardens. I run an independent educational charity which first opened its doors in 1832. We have been welcoming the citizens of Birmingham and visitors from across the world to see our amazing collection of plants ever since.
HOW DO YOU GET INTO TOWN?
I’m already here – I live in a lovely house on the Calthorpe Estate in leafy Edgbaston, just a 10-minute walk from the Gardens. I have the greenest commute possible!
HOW’S THE COMMUTE?
Healthy, walking keeps me fit and chases away any winter blues. I love being outdoors.
IS BRUM A GOOD PLACE TO WORK IN?
Brum is brilliant, especially if you run the Botanical Gardens as I do. You get the best of both worlds – the stunning greenery of our garden and all the excitement of the city on the doorstep. Having one of the best-loved green spaces in Birmingham with an audience of more than a million residents living right next door means we are never short of visitors.
We have a great cafe on site here at the Gardens with the best view and some of the best coffee and cakes in town – I just take a wander through our beautiful Tropical Glasshouses and invite our guests to take a seat in our ‘room with a view’.
I’m a big fan of Loki in Edgbaston – it’s a really original and innovative business where you get to taste the best wines for a fraction of the price it would cost to buy a whole bottle. I get to go home for lunch but if I want to push the boat out, then Simpsons round the corner makes a wonderful staff canteen!
Round our 15 acres of beautiful gardens, of course! Where else?
WHERE’S YOUR FAVOURITE PART OF THE CITY?
I love the old industrial buildings now coming back to life across Birmingham – they make the Jewellery Quarter one of the most atmospheric places I’ve ever been to, especially at night. You can feel history there.
The Physician in Edgbaston, botanical gin and tonic for choice.
HOW CAN THE CITY BE MADE BETTER?
More green space to give the residents of all the new apartment blocks springing up across town somewhere to chill and play, especially the children, who love coming to the Botanical Gardens. There are so many post-industrial unused spaces in Birmingham just crying out to be brought back to life – a greener life!