Caroline Starr has retired August 8, 2019

On Caroline’s last day, we held a celebratory tea party. Pictured above, staff, former staff, trustee and volunteers with Caroline during the event.

“If we can encourage young people to look after the planet, hopefully some of the damage that we have inadvertently contributed to can be rectified before it’s too late.”            Caroline Starr

Since 1987, Caroline Starr has been here at Martineau Gardens, inspiring Birmingham school children with her passion for nature.

Caroline has had a long association with Martineau Gardens. Her first role was as a gardener (1987) and she became the teaching assistant for the Martineau Environmental Studies Centre in 1991, where she taught for a number of years until its closure.  She returned to Martineau Gardens in 2015, as a new education programme was introduced with Juliette Green (Education Officer), and has been our Educational Tour Guide since then.

Circa 2001, Caroline (far right) weeding flower beds near the Tai Chi Lawn


Pictured above, Caroline at work in the Gardens  explaining pollination to school children during ‘Signs of Spring’ tours

Our thanks to the National Association of Environmental Education and Juliette Green who published Caroline Starr’s fascinating insight into the developments in Environmental Education at Martineau Gardens. An extract follows.

She writes of her early memories of the animals that once lived here, when the Gardens were known as the Environmental Study Centre: “My main roles were to take small groups around the gardens and to help look after the animals. I managed the poultry — several ex-battery hens, ducks, two quail and an arthritic turkey. I also helped with the goats and sheep (once being involved in delivering a breach lamb!); handled, cleaned and fed the indoor animals — a tortoise, grass snakes, bearded dragons, an axolotl, chinchillas, jerds (a large tunnelling gerbil), giant millipedes, African land snails, three types of stick insect and several different species of bird.”

Caroline taught until 1997 when Birmingham City Council’s funding for the Teaching Centre ended.  The transition of Martineau Gardens as a Community Garden began.  A coalition of  former staff, supporters (including our former Patron Mollie Martineau and her husband Denis Martineau), and Friends of the Earth came together to keep the centre open. Caroline played an active role in the continuation of the Gardens. From this, the Community Garden was formed and Caroline Hutton (former Director) joined the organisation.

Caroline Starr explains her return to the Gardens in 2015: “I got involved again with Martineau Gardens … after attending the AGM. Once I heard that school groups were returning on a regular basis, I couldn’t resist! My main role now is to lead tours of the Gardens, where the children are provided with the experience of tasting some of our homegrown produce. I am often elated by their responses when they taste something they wouldn’t normally try — “You can eat more plants than I expected!” wrote one child on their evaluation form — and the vocabulary this draws out of them.”

In the article, Caroline writes of the importance of delivering Environmental Education:

“I believe that it is essential for children to know where their food comes from. Some of their misconceptions are really shocking: once when a child told me, “My mum grows peas on the balcony… in the freezer”. I always try to encourage teachers to try growing food crops with the children back at school; when children grow their own food, they are always keen to eat it, and it is a great way of introducing them to vegetables.

Environmental education is so important. During their visits to places like Martineau Gardens, children are introduced to the wonder of nature, and how it keeps going whatever the weather. The continuing cycle of growth and change that makes sense to me seems magical to children. If we can encourage young people to look after the planet, hopefully some of the damage that we have inadvertently contributed to can be rectified before it’s too late.”

Read Caroline’s article in full here (Environmental Education, NAEE, vol 118 – page 11)

We thank Caroline for her contribution to Martineau Gardens.

Staff at Martineau Gardens, past and present – spanning 22 years (from L to R: Caroline Hutton (former Director), Caroline Starr (Education Tour Guide) Stewart Holmes (Therapeutic Horticulturalist) and Gill Milburn (Director)



Garden Party Success 2019 August 8, 2019

Our fabulous Summer Garden Party, returned for the sixth year running in June 2019. Guests joined us for an evening of food, wine and live music with Wild Irish. Our charity auction was the highlight of the evening with Jeremy Thornton, of Biddle and Webb, our pro-bono auctioneer. It was a wonderful evening, for guests to meet up with friends and family, joining in with the excitement of the auction, enjoy the music and wine whilst raising money for our cause.

The success of the event was due to a huge team effort – including members of the Calthorpe
Residents Society serving the wine and working tirelessly behind the scenes with our wonderful volunteers and our caterers ‘Food Fanatics’ producing a delicious banquet. We greatly appreciate the dedication of Sue Roberts, our chair of Trustees – without her commitment it would be impossible for this event to be the event that it is.

Local business support

Funds raised from the Garden Party go directly to support the Therapeutic Horticulture Project here at Martineau Gardens and contribute to keeping the Gardens open for free, for the people of Birmingham to visit. We think it’s a terrific opportunity for local businesses to reach out, connect to local residents, support a great cause and hopefully enjoy themselves at the same time.

We are very grateful to Nicholls Brimble Bhol solicitors and Dermoperfection who support the Gardens throughout the year.

Our event sponsors:

Our thanks to:

BIRA (British Independent Retailers Association)    Genie Tutors     QualitySolicitors Davisons

Our cause

For many of the volunteers who come to garden at Martineau Gardens, gardening isn’t just a hobby, it’s a therapy that provides new ways to deal with their problems. Volunteers garden together – they receive support from a trained staff member and enjoy the benefits of socialising with a supportive group, whilst acquiring new skills in gardening and increasing self-confidence. Therapeutic Horticulture at Martineau Gardens promotes social inclusion,  health and well being for all.  Our volunteers (some of whom have mental health issues and learning disabilities)  look after our two and half acre community garden, creating a beautiful place. The Gardens are open daily (except Sundays and Bank Holidays), free of charge as a place to visit, to relax and unwind in and enjoy its tranquillity. It’s a much loved, welcome green space close to Birmingham city centre. We have over 10k visitors each year, who visit the Gardens, attend our events, hire the Gardens for parties, meetings and community events. Hundreds of school children visit for Educational visits and learn about the natural world. We are a thriving independent charity – we raise all our funds and appreciate the support of donors and local businesses who get involved to support our cause.

Auction Brochure

Our thanks to all our donors for their support.

Martineau Gardens Auction Brochure 2019 e



Team Spirit August 5, 2019

Staff at Brewin Dolphin have been helping out at Martineau Gardens through a number of team-building  and volunteering days over the last few months.

We were delighted to receive a call from Charlotte Wright advising us that she had nominated the Gardens through the Brewin Dolphin Foundation, which gives small grants to charities in which their staff have an interest. Pictured left, Charlotte and colleague Jonathon Gwynn presenting  Stewart with a cheque for £1,000. Gill Milburn said: “We have seen an increase in the number of Team Building Days here at the Gardens and without exception we have benefited from each team’s input on these days. The added bonus with Brewin Dolphin, is that we’ve been able to reach out to them at short notice when we have been in need of extra help for a particular job. The financial support is the cherry on the cake. It’s really pleasing to know that the purpose of what we do at Martineau Gardens has had an impact on the Brewin Dolphin team and led Charlotte to apply for the donation, for which we’re extremely thankful.”


Cricket Parking at Martineau Gardens Summer 2019 June 12, 2019

Parking for Cricket Fans

Summer 2019

Thurs 11 July; Thurs 1 to Mon 5 Aug;    Sat 21 Sept

Cricket is taking place at Edgbaston Cricket Ground, close to Martineau Gardens on the above dates.  You can park your car in the Martineau Gardens car park (subject to availability) for £20 fee (please see signs on site), we have space for 24 cars. We can’t take reservations in advance.

Thank you for choosing to park here.

  • Your fee is helping to support a great cause and local charity.
  • Martineau Gardens is a registered charity and a therapeutic community garden. We run education and therapeutic horticulture projects in the Gardens. The Gardens are here for the people of Birmingham to enjoy peace and tranquillity.
  • To find out more about what happens here, visit this page

Your car is parked at your own risk. The gates will be locked or staffed, and staff will be on site throughout the match. If you wish to collect your car, before the end of the match, please phone 0121 440 7430 when you are outside the Gardens and we’ll unlock the gates.

At the end of play, the gates will be open for half an hour. Our staff will need to go home, so if you arrive later than this, you risk your car being locked in until 9.30am tomorrow morning, or an additional £20 charge.

Enjoy the cricket!

 Visitors to the Gardens

If you’re planning to visit Martineau Gardens on cricket days (we’re closed to the public on Sunday), the car park will be full – we’d love you to come and visit but please leave the car at home, (or arrange to be dropped off) and use public transport. Martineau Gardens is well served by buses. The nearest bus routes are  1, 45, 47, 61, 63, X64. To plan your journey by public transport, visit  and use the postcode search – Martineau Gardens postcode is B5 7UG. Alternatively, arrive by bike and bring your bike down to our bike rack, close to the Pavilion.

When you arrive, the gates will be locked, please phone the office on 0121 440 7430 and we will unlock the gates for you.


Spring Event Pictures from this year’s event May 20, 2019

Our Spring Event took place on Sunday 19 May 2019 – thank you to everyone who contributed so much to the success of one of our favourite events of the year. Big thanks to our musicians, our cake and salad makers, our stall holders, our activity providers, Co op Edgbaston, all our visitors for joining in and … most of all our fabulous volunteers –  we could not do all that we do with out you!

A few highlights from the day!

#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek May 16, 2019

Stewart Holmes, Therapeutic Horticulturalist beside the Alpine garden, Martineau Gardens

Mental Health – it’s something we think about all the time here at Martineau Gardens. Mental Health Awareness Week takes place this week.

A big thank you to all those whose actions, gestures and donations keep these beautiful gardens open for free,  and enable the Therapeutic Horticulture Programme to continue. The gardening work our volunteers do is rewarding  — not only does it give meaning to someone’s life but we have a tranquil, beautiful space for all to enjoy. Our thanks to the charitable trusts, the donors and sponsors Nicholls Brimble Bhol Solicitors for their continued support, and most importantly our volunteers for all the hard work they do throughout the year.




Gardening at the Gardens April 10, 2019

Martineau Gardens – where great things happen together

Wednesday 10 April 2019

It’s been a very busy day at the Gardens, with so much achieved. Garden Volunteers have been working hard on the Pavilion Garden with Stewart and Miranda.  Over in the food growing area, Baskerville Special School have been weeding our vegetable beds with Susan and, children from Tame Valley  Primary School have experienced a Plant Professor session with Juliette, Felicity and Abbie  – which included tasting three types of mint.

Wildlife update March 20, 2019

As custodians of this precious green space, close to Birmingham city centre and surrounded by urban sprawl, we take our role in looking after the wildlife who visit here seriously. In recognition of the variety of species who visit, the wildlife area is designated a SLINC (a site of Local Importance for Nature Conservation). Pictured here, our volunteer wildlife surveyors, Andrew Curran (Left) and Brian Perry (Right), are running annual checks on our bird boxes— the nesting boxes are cleaned, at a time when they are not in use, to reduce the risk of parasites infesting young birds in the nesting season.

Brian explains: “We have two types of nestboxes, ones that can be removed from the tree and others that can’t. So the first photo shows us removing a box from the tree. The second shows Andrew with a fixed nestbox. It’s obviously easier to clean the removable boxes – if not, we have to clean whilst perched on a ladder. As the photo shows, Andrew has found a way to sterilise the box –  he’s pouring boiling water into it from a thermos!”

Thanks to the generosity of a Friend, who has supplied us with a regular delivery of bird seed for a number of years, the birds at Martineau Gardens are fed throughout the year. They enjoy a wild bird seed containing black sunflower, red millet, white millet, canary seed, naked oats, rape seed and wheat.

Find out more about the birds at Martineau Gardens here

Co op Edgbaston volunteer day March 19, 2019

Earlier this month, we welcomed Volunteers from Co-op Edgbaston who donned gardening gloves and worked with Stewart and our volunteers in the glass house, potting up cuttings for the Gardens. The team were really enthusiastic to find out more about Martineau Gardens and the therapeutic horticulture project, for which Co-op is supporting through the Co-op Local Community Fund. Josh Dredge, Manager of Co-op Edgbaston said: “It was fantastic seeing first hand the incredible work Martineau Gardens does in our community. We can’t wait to tell our customers all about it!”

Martineau Gardens has been selected to receive funding from the Co-op Local Community Fund. It means that we will get a contribution towards the Therapeutic Horticulture Project. But we need your help. The more support we get, the more funding we could receive. So if you’re a Co-op Member log in to your Co-op Membership account and choose us.  Visit the supporting stores (listed below) to see how you can make in-store purchases count.

To date the amount raised across the four supporting stores is £1,305.54 – great news!

Co-ops Local Community Fund – Giving back to local communities

By choosing to buy from Co-op, Co-op members are helping local causes on their doorstep through the Local Community Fund. Every time Co-op members buy Co-op branded products and services, 1% of their spend goes to a local cause.

Local stores supporting Martineau Gardens

Birmingham, Colmore Row B3 2BJ

Birmingham, Newhall Square, B3 1RU

Edgbaston, Wheeleys Road, B15 2LJ

Moseley, 154 Alcester Road B13 8HS

You can view (and share) our Co-op page here.


Good news Co op Local Community Fund February 5, 2019


Today we met with the team at Co op Edgbaston to discuss collaborating on fundraising events for the year. Martineau Gardens has been selected to receive funding from the Co-op Local Community Fund, which means we will get a contrubtion towards the Therapeutic Community Fund. To date, over £700 has been raised across our four supporting stores.

Read the full story here and find out how you can make in-store purchases count.