Wayne Williams

There’s nothing the senior horticulturalist at Birmingham Botanical Gardens Wayne Williams enjoys more than the great outdoors…and watching children as butterflies land on their noses!


I started my horticultural career here in Birmingham at the old Bournville College in 1992, straight after leaving school. I did a two-year Youth Training Scheme apprenticeship which involved a day at college and four days working alongside the staff at Birmingham Botanical Gardens. I will have been at the Gardens for 20 years next year and have seen some amazing changes during that time.


There’s a great team here and with help from my colleagues, I am responsible for looking after the four display glasshouses (tropical, subtropical, Mediterranean and arid houses). I also look after the plant nursery where we grow plants behind the scenes from seeds, cuttings and other propagules. From late May to early September, we also open our popular butterfly house. With more than 6,000 accessions including plants such as tea, cotton and vanilla orchid, we believe we have one of the best plant collections in the Midlands.


I want to help keep Birmingham as one of the greenest cities in the UK. With the number of visitors to Birmingham increasing year-on-year (34million in 2016), it is becoming even more important to retain and improve our green spaces for families and for wildlife. I want to encourage everyone to enjoy nature and to get outside in the fresh air.


In 2012, I installed our first butterfly house at Birmingham Botanical Gardens. This was so successful that we have repeated it every summer since then and it was featured on BBC Radio 4 Gardeners’ Question Time last year. It is great to see our visitors’ reactions when they enter it, especially when children have the butterflies land on their nose!


Horticulture is a fantastic career as you never stop learning, no matter how long you have been doing it. It’s almost an obsession for me and I really believe you have to have a passion for what you do in life. I know that many career changers to horticulture only wished that they had done it sooner.


Birmingham is my hometown and I have lived here almost all my life. There is so much going on in the city right now. I love the way New Street Station has been transformed with Grand Central and the Metro nearby. I am looking forward to seeing how Paradise, HS2 and Smithfield develop in the future as part of the Big City Plan.


I love to relax in my own garden at home and visit other gardens around the country. I also love going on Mediterranean holidays to Greece. But I’m always obsessing about nature somewhere!


There are many brilliant aspects to Birmingham that we should be encouraging people to experience and the Botanical Gardens is a perfect example. First time visitors are always surprised at just how big and lovely they are and that it’s not just about plants – the whole spectrum of nature is on show here. Birds, butterflies the lot. And the tearoom’s pretty good too!