Edinburgh Today

Royal Botanic Garden



Edinburgh's First Botanic Gardens

Edinburgh's first Botanic Gardens were founded in 1670 by Dr Robert Sibbald and Dr Andrew Balfour for cultivating medicinal plants.

Edinburgh Evening News 15 November 2003, p.24


Inverleith House


The Exhibition areas of Inverleith House are also closed for restoration work.  This work should be completed in summer 2003 at a cost of 250,000.

Edinburgh Evening News 5 November 2003, p.3


The Victorian Palm House


The Royal Botanic Gardens are now at Inverleith.  The gardens have ten glasshouses, including the Temperate Palm House, a Grade A listed building, built in 1858 at a cost of 6,000.  At a height of 69ft (over 3ft higher than the glasshouse at Kew Gardens, London) it is the tallest building of its type in Britain. 

The interior of this Palm House is to be restored to its former glory over the next few months, from November 03.   The palm house will be closed to the public until June 04  to allow the work, including the laying of a new stone floor and installation of audio-visual displays, to be carried out at a cost of 200,000.

Edinburgh Evening News 5 November 2003, p.3:
Edinburgh Evening News 15 November 2003, p.24

The glasshouses are impressive.  I have photographed them with infra-red film and hope to add the photos to this web site.


The Palm House appears to have taken a little longer than originally envisaged to be refurbished.  However, it has now opened again and attracted over 2,500 visitors during the the first weekend after opening.

Herald & Post, 19 May 2005, p.13



Tribute to Queen Mother


Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother died in 2002, aged 101.  She had a long association with the city, often staying at Holyrood Palace or and as given the freedom of the city in 1936.

She often stayed in the Palace of Holyrood or with her sister, the late Lady Elphinstone, at Carberry Towers near Musselburgh

Following the death of the Queen Mother, there were proposals to create a memorial to her to be placed in in Princes Street Gardens.

However, it is now expected that the Botanic Gardens will announce a scheme to raise 1m to create some form of memorial to her in 2005.

No decision on the form of memorial has been reached.  Possibly the Winter Garden will be made into a permanent memorial.

Edinburgh Evening News 14 November 2003, p.4
 and 1 November 2005, p.23

Update  -  November 2005

Garden to be Created

It has been announced that 600,000 out of a target of 1m has now been raised to to build a memorial garden to the Queen Mother.  Work has now commenced on building the garden.  It will include:

-  a sandcastle-shaped grotto decorated with shells in a style found in the 18th century.

-  secret gardens

-  a giant Pictish maze and is expected to open in summer 2006.

Edinburgh Evening News 1 November 2005, p.23


Update  -  May 2006

Garden to be Opened

The garden has been created at a cost of 600,000.  It is to be opened by the Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, will open the garden on July 7, 2006.

The garden will have a maze based on the design of the Eassie Cross near the Queen Mother's childhood home in Angus, with informal planting around it.  Within the maze there will be a secret garden, a grotto and a memorial pavilion

Edinburgh Evening News May 25, 2006, p.23



A New Visitor Centre

Plans have been announced to build Scotland's largest visitors' centre in Edinburgh's Royal Botanic Gardens, close to the West Gate. 

The 13m development with its curved glass wall, is to include:

-  The Gateway National Biodiversity Centre
-  The Real Life Science Centre.

Management at the Royal Botanic Gardens hope that building can begin in 2009.

A further 4m funding has yet to  be found.  So far, about 9m has been promised, including over 5m from the Scottish Executive and 3.2m from the National Lottery Fund.

Edinburgh Evening News, June 7, 2006:  p.25


November 2006

The estimated cost of the Visitor Centre is now 15.7m.  To date, 14.7m has been raised.

The centre is to include:

-   exhibitions, covering research and environmental issues.

-   a studio area with audio-visual facilities

-  a 'Real Life Science Centre', allowing scientists, volunteers and others to work closely with the public

-   two-way communication with other locations around the world.

Opening date is still scheduled for 2009.

Edinburgh Evening News, November 20, 2006:  p.11


August 2007

Work on the new Visitor Centre is about to begin.  The West Gate of the gardens is to be closed from late August 2007 until the new centre opens in spring 2009.

A north gate, beside the Queen Mother Memorial Garden will be open while the west gate is closed.

The new centre will include live video links with scientists working on conservation in 40 countries.

Edinburgh Evening News, August 17, 2007:  p.21


October 2009

The 16m John Hope Gateway visitors' centre at the West Gate of the Royal Botanic Garden is due to open on October 7, 2009.  The centre includes the Gateway Restaurant, reached by a spiral wooden staircase.  It has a roof turbine and biomass boiler, and includes educational facilities and inter-active exhibits.

There is no charge for admission to the John Hope Gateway or to the Royal Botanic Garden.

Professor John Hope was a leading botanist and teacher.  He was Regius Keeper of the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, from 1761 until 1786.  He played a leading role in moving the garden from the head of the Nor' Loch, now Waverley Station, to its new site on Leith Walk at Pilrig.  The Botanic Garden  moved to its current location at Inverleith in 1820.

Edinburgh Evening News, October 6, 2009