Secret to estate’s flower power revealed as historic hothouse bursts into life: IMG 6895

23 Jun 2023

Secret to estate’s flower power revealed as historic hothouse bursts into life

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It’s a hidden horticultural gem where generations of gardeners have cultivated exotic fruits and blooms for more than 230 years.

Centuries ago the hothouse, tucked away at the top of Temple Newsam’s Walled Garden, was used to ripen pineapples and grow colourful flowers for the aristocrats who lived at Temple Newsam House.

Now a new generation of gardeners are continuing their esteemed predecessors’ green-fingered legacy, tending to and conserving a nationally important array of rare plants for the people of Leeds.

Originally built in the 18th Century, the lengthy greenhouse still features remnants of the original flues which were used to channel hot air around the structure and ripen fruit.

These are believed to have included pineapples, which were nurtured in nearby glasshouses and once seen as a huge status symbol in aristocratic circles, where they would be the centrepieces at social gatherings.

Gardeners 1910

After a theft in 1777, when 10 of his prized pineapple crop was stolen, Richard Taylor, gardener to Viscount Irwin, reputedly offered a ten guineas reward for information leading to the perpetrator.

The Taylor family, who lived in quarters in nearby Colton village, were head gardeners at the estate for generations and famously trained many young horticulturalists who graduated to work at other estates around the UK.

Today, the estate’s cohort of gardeners’ duties include conserving a number of national collections of plants including Delphiniums and Chrysanthemums.

They also carefully care for a stunning national collection of Coleus, grown for their colourful patterned leaves, and have even developed around 20 new varieties including one called “Temple Newsam”.

Temple Newsam hothouse

Mark Darwell, Leeds City Council’s estate officer said: “It’s incredible to think you’re looking after plants in the very same place they’ve been so carefully nurtured for hundreds of years.  You can definitely feel that weight of history and the watchful eyes of the generations of expert gardeners who’ve gone before you while you work too.

“It’s a completely unique place to work and when the flowers burst into life, it’s probably one of the most beautiful places to be in Leeds. We’re very proud of the work we do, and the fact we’re continuing the legacy of those horticulturalists who laid the foundations for what we do today is a real privilege.”

The hothouse is open to the public all year round and visitors can also explore the surrounding Walled Garden, which includes roses and a vegetable and herb garden and throughout the year hosts children’s planting activity days.

Councillor Mohammed Rafique, Leeds City Council’s executive member for climate, energy, environment and green space said: “The amount of diligence and dedication it takes to keep our parks and green spaces looking so beautiful is remarkable.

“In spring and summer we see the fruits of all that hard work, but our teams on site have working behind-the-scenes throughout the year and the stunning floral displays across Leeds are a credit to them all.”

The Walled Garden and other gardens at Temple Newsam are free to visit. More information can be found at:


For media enquiries contact:

Leeds City Council Communications team