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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 December 2003, 14:36 GMT
Timeline: National Botanic Garden
A chronology of key events:

Middleton
Sir Norman Foster's glass house is the garden's centre piece

1996 - The 43m garden is founded with a 22m grant from the Millennium Commission.

1996 - Sir Norman Foster chosen to design the great glass house that will form the centre piece. Work starts.

24 May 2000 - The garden opens its gates to members of the public.

21 July 2000 - Prince Charles officially opens the attraction during a visit to Wales

6 November 2000 - Garden announces 180,000 people visit in first months surpassing target by 20,000.

15 February 2001 - Institute of Welsh Affairs says the garden should have annual subsidy to aid its research work.

Funding problems

16 July 2002 - Welsh Assembly Government gives 360,000 funding after bad weather and the foot-and-mouth outbreak is blamed for a fall in visitor numbers.

20 August 2002 - The garden's first director Charles Stirton announces he is stepping down after six years in the post.

26 February 2003 - Assembly government gives a further 1m to help keep the garden open through the summer.

18 March 2003 - A name change to Middleton is announced as part of a re-branding exercise to reverse decline in visitor numbers.

15 July 2003 - An additional 600,000 handout is received from National Lottery.

29 September 2003 - Trustees reveal they may have to call in receivers as they seek more assembly support.

3 October 2003 - Fresh hope as Carmarthenshire Council says it will offer financial support.

4 October 2003 - Visitors allowed in for free but asked to make a donation. Around 7,000 people turn up over the weekend.

Closure crisis

6 October 2003 - Sixty staff are given one month's notice as cutbacks are made.

14 October 2003 - Trustees agree short-term rescue package with Welsh assembly, Carmarthenshire Council and Millennium Commission to keep it open until Christmas.

1 November 2003 - The founder of Cornwall's Eden Project visits garden which he says must be saved.

5 November 2003 - Redundant staff complete their last day in work.

17 November 2003 - Man who originated the idea for the National Botanic Garden of Wales, William Wilkins, criticises people running it saying they have not realised his dream.

2 December 2003 - Trustees ask Welsh Culture Minister Alan Pugh for 3m to fund a 21-point rescue plan over six years.

10 December 2003 - Panel of tourism experts say garden has no future in its present form.

10 December 2003 - Alun Pugh confirms the assembly will not support the garden any further. Liquidators are to be called in.

11 December 2003 - Prince of Wales says he "very much hopes a situation can be found to allow the garden to remain open".

Rescue Package

15 December 2003 - Hours before a meeting in which the trustees are expected to call in the administrators, news of an eleventh-hour proposal to save the site emerges.

19 December 2003 - Trustees at the garden hold a candlelight vigil. Other botanic gardens around the world - in the United States, Western Australia, New South Wales, South Africa, Germany, Chile, the Canary Islands, Alaska, New Zealand, and India - light candles in a show of solidarity.

16 February 2004 - Trustees name Wales' national day - 1 March - as the potential closure date.

1 March 2004 - Closure avoided at the last minute with the promise of further talks on a rescue package.

15 March 2004 - Alun Pugh says he believes a deal can be struck to save the garden.

17 March 2004 - Mr Pugh announces rescue package comprising 300,000 each from Carmarthenshire Council, the Millennium Commission and the Welsh Assembly Government.

18 March 2004 - Carmarthenshire Council says its 300,000 would only be given on the clear understanding that there would be a change in the way garden is run.

Seeds of Recovery

13 May 2004 - Garden starts re-employing some of the 70 staff laid-off in previous year.

17 June 2005 - Environmental charity Grantscape pledges a 350,000 grant, generated from landfill taxes, which the garden said would be used on its glasshouse and double walled garden.

15 September 2005 - Roy J Thomas appointed interim chief executive with Robin Lewis becoming new trustee - bringing number of new appointments to the board to seven.

14 November 2005 - A 1.35m lottery grant is announced for new attractions including a Tropical House designed by Welsh-born architect John Belle.

26 April 2006 - Welsh assembly audit committee finds public bodies did not make adequate checks before funding the "risky" project and recommends changes for future projects, including better analysis of business plans and more collaboration between funding partners.


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