Edinburgh EH3 5LR
Why We Should Visit
Right in the heart of Edinburgh lies a heavily wooded garden that covers 70 acres, filled with beautiful plants. The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a favourite spot for locals and visitors who come to stroll beneath the canopy of mature trees and picnic on the lawns.
It is a garden filled with surprising features and its plant collections form the basis of a huge living collection of material that is continually providing new information about the world around us and about conservation and climate change.
For most visitors, however, it is the beauty that lies behind the garden’s high hedges that captivates them and makes it one of the most popular attractions in Edinburgh.
Story of the Garden
The garden was founded in 1670 as a physic garden growing medicinal plants and it moved several times before, in 1820, moving to its present site in Inverleith and taking hundreds of mature shrubs and trees with it.
Since then the garden has grown to become a scientific organisation with a world-class reputation and its 230 staff include scientists and botanists who work on projects around the world and who are continuously discovering new plants.
In autumn, the shrubs and trees on the Chinese Hillside, including Sorbus, Pyracantha and Malus, are covered in brightly-coloured fruits while bright pink nerines flower by the glasshouses and autumn crocuses pop up everywhere.
The sweet scent that wafts across the pond and lawns in autumn owes its origin to the Katsura tree, Cercidiphyllum japonicum, the leaves of which give off a smell of burnt sugar as they change colour.
Anything Else to Look Out For
The rock garden and Alpine beds are amongst the best of their kind anywhere in the world, while the palm house and glasshouses, above, which are closed at the moment, are being refurbished and redeveloped as part of the Edinburgh Biomes Project, which will protect the garden’s future.
Best Time to Visit
Throughout October and November many of the daily guided walks at the RBGE will focus on the garden’s beautiful trees. From 14 until 31 October a Halloween Trail will provide fun for young visitors and there will also be regular Meet The Gardener sessions, where visitors can find out more about different areas of the gardens and ask questions about what they see.
Any Recommendations in the Area
Arthur’s Seat is the highest point in Edinburgh and from its 251m peak there are views across the capital, the Lothians and towards Fife. This extinct volcano looks down on Holyrood Park and St Margaret’s Loch and its slopes are criss-crossed by paths and trails.
The RBGE is situated off Ferry Road, in the Canonmills areas of Edinburgh. It has entrances on both Inverleith Row and Arboretum Place and both are served by Lothian Buses.
Most of the garden is fully accessible and there are wheelchairs and mobility scooters for visitors to use.
Opening times: 10am-5pm
Garden entry is free
Traquair House near Innerleithen is Scotland’s longest-occupied house. It dates back to 1107 and has been home to the Stuart family since 1491.
Its white walls and impressive gates, which by long tradition will remain closed until a Stuart monarch is returned to the throne, are amongst Scotland’s most recognisable attractions, but few visitors will have had the chance to view Traquair House from the angle that will be made possible on 15 and 16 October.
That’s when outdoor activity company, Tree Climbing Adventures, will be on hand to help anyone who fancies it climb high into the canopy of a 200-year-old oak tree.
The event is part of Scotland’s Tree Festival and it is a chance to see some amazing trees close up and to look down from the heights, and perhaps catch a glimpse of Traquair’s famous maze and the peacocks that stalk its green alleys, or take a peek over the walled garden and see apple trees weighed down by ripe fruit.
Traquair is surrounded by 4,500 acres of farmland and woodland on the banks of the River Tweed and in the days before visitors flocked to its cafe, brewery and to stay in its accommodation, it entertained 27 Scottish kings and queens.
Innerleithen EH44 6PW
In association with Discover Scottish Gardens. www.discoverscottishgardens.org.