The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh – it sounds impressive and given the complexity of its funding masters (and its structure – RBGE actually comprises four gardens in Scotland), the Edinburgh garden does a jolly good job of fulfilling expectations.
Fact: it’s big – 70 acres. You can spend a good afternoon getting round it – and it’s completely free to go in! You’ll enjoy the walk from the city centre – 30 minutes or so will do it, handy since there isn’t a car park – but it’s fairly easy to get onto a meter on one of the roads that border it.
It has two entrances – a small one on Inverleith Row and the main John Hope Gateway on Arboretum Place which has a wonderful feeling of space and outlines the garden’s wide-ranging purposes.
And once you’re through into the garden itself, it’s everything you’d expect from an internationally renowned botanical garden. Rock garden; alpines and some spectacular Scottish specialities such as the azalea lawn and wonderful displays of meconopsis in early summer, as well as elements you wouldn’t expect in this climate such as some towering Echium pininanas whatever you think of them (Elaine wasn’t keen as you can deduce from our little video at the end)
Outstanding are the Chinese hillside and 10 glasshouses – currently closed for the development of a major project, but the contents of which would give Kew a run for its money. And tucked away behind the glasshouse complex is an area which aficionados of South American plants would consider to be the jewel in the crown of RBGE – the Chilean Terrace, an eclectic collection of stunning and intriguing shrubs and climbers from this corner of the globe.
It has a gigantic beech hedge (we’re talking eight metres high) – and a stonking herbaceous border while the RBGE’s late autumn beds were a treat for the Growbags in November (also in our video – link at the end).
In places more functional than pretty, its size and numerous surfaced paths makes RBGE a favourite venue for picnicking families, undoubtedly attracted also by the tameness of the squirrels. However the huge number of mature trees and mysterious little single track paths, allow opportunities for solitude even on the busiest days.
There are cafes aplenty, guided tours on offer, normally some exhibitions and…..a Growbag must….free toilets.
It’s a very different experience to visiting a perfectly intimate cottage garden but RBGE does a good job balancing its botanical remit with its popularity as a great, cost-free sanctuary for city-bound garden-lovers.
We loved our visit there in November, recorded on camera in this short video.
Entry is free. Donations welcomed. Glasshouse entry charge applies.
Postcode: EH3 5LR.
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