The Upper Gardens was originally laid out as a private garden for the Durrant family in the 1860s. However the lease was assigned over to Bournemouth Council shortly before the Lower gardens were laid out. The Upper gardens deviate from the theme of the other tow and has a “three continent” theme with three separate sections. The first has a European theme, the second an Asian Theme and finally the third theme is based on plant species from North America. The Upper gardens hold many unusual tree species including a North American Giant Redwood (believed to be the largest in the country) and a group of mature Persian Ironwood trees. Many of the trees in this garden were planted during the latter part of the 19th century and are well over 100 years old.
As you walk into the first section you are greeted by a rather elegant Gothic style Victorian water tower, fashioned after a castle turret. In bygone days this used to provide water for a fountain and was fed, in turn by a pump driven by a water wheel from the nearby river Bourne. Nearby the Water tower, built into the river is a small and now disused sleuce which I believe used to contain the water wheel and pumping apparatus. The area has always been poorly drained. Originally there was a large lake and the surrounding area was bog-ridden. The Durrants imported a great deal of shingle and broken clay pipe to add drainage but the area can still suffer from a lack of drainage. This however does work to the advantage of some of the species within this area and also adds to the diversity of the plant stock across the three gardens.
Within the Upper Gardens there have also been built a number of wooden walkways that allow the visitor to stroll through the lush but boggy foliage and at first hand inspect the rare and uncommon species growing there. Although more of a “nature trail” than the other two gardens, the Upper Gardens are still very accessible and require no special footwear or clothing and, as with the other gardens, the Upper Gardens are an excellent place for picnics or relaxing. It is also by far the quietest of the three gardens.