OPW commences work to save important buildings at Botanic Gardens with a plan to restore them in the future.


child sitting on a lilly pad 1920s


Visitors to the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin will have noticed what looks like some building work commencing on site in recent days.

Today, the Office of Public Works has announced that works have commenced to stabilise important structures at the gardens that require conservation and visitors should be advised that these initial works are the first step on the road towards a faithful restoration in the years ahead.


victoria house at the national botanic gardens glasnevin


The Aquatic House Complex consists of the Cactus House, the Victoria water lily House and the Fern House. These three distinct building were built independently and joined together over time. The Victoria water lily house was designed by Duncan Ferguson, and built in 1854. About half the cost (£550) was raised by charging admission to a horticultural fete, which was held at the Gardens on the 24th June 1853. The house was one of many built across Europe to house the botanical sensation of the time – Victoria amazonica, the giant Victoria water lily of South America. The Cactus House, also a Victorian protected structure was built in 1890 and the Fern House was a later addition in 1966. The Aquatic House Complex sits in an important location within the National Botanic Gardens alongside other significant historical glass house structures including the Great Palm House Complex and the Curvilinear Range.


victoria house at the national botanic gardens glasnevin


The Office of Public Works is now taking a phased approach to secure these historic structures and will ensure their appropriate and sustainable development into the future. Phase 1, will see the removal of all vegetation within the Aquatic House Complex and the stabilisation of the Cactus House and the Water lily House. In Phase 2, which will be subject to the availability of funding, the Office of Public Works plans to faithfully restore the Cactus House and the Water lily House and provide a new, redeveloped Fern House.

John McMahon, OPW Commissioner with responsibility for Heritage said “securing these buildings is really important now and we hope that in time we will have sufficient funding to see them fully restored just as we have done with the wonderful Turner Curvilinear Range here at the gardens.”


aquatic house water lillies