Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

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Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Palm House, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.JPG
The Palm House in the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Non Departmental Public Body overview
Formed 1670 (in Holyrood Park)
1820 (moved to current Inverleith site)
Preceding agencies 1. the country's first physic garden, near Holyrood Abbey, in Holyrood Park
2. a site at the head of the Nor Loch, now the site of Waverley Station
3. a site between Edinburgh and Leith
Type Executive Non Departmental Public Body
Registered charity (number SC007983)
Jurisdiction Scottish Government
Headquarters 20a Inverleith Row, Edinburgh, EH3 5LR
Employees 250
Annual budget £12.3 million (2010-11)
Minister responsible Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment
Deputy Minister responsible Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Environment and Climate Change
Non Departmental Public Body executive Simon Milne, Regius Keeper, Chief Executive Officer and Accountable Officer
Parent department Enterprise, Environment and Digital Directorates
Child agencies Benmore Botanic Garden, Argyll
Dawyck Botanic Garden, Borders
Logan Botanic Garden, Galloway
Website Official website

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) is a scientific centre for the study of plants, their diversity and conservation, as well as a popular tourist attraction. Originally founded in 1670 as a physic garden to grow medicinal plants, today it occupies four sites across Scotland — Edinburgh, Dawyck, Logan and Benmore — each with its own specialist collection. The RBGE's living collection consists of more than 13,302 plant species, (34,422 accessions)[1] whilst the herbarium contains in excess of 3 million preserved specimens.

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is an executive non-departmental public body of the Scottish Government. The Edinburgh site is the main garden and the headquarters of the public body, which is led by Regius Keeper, Simon Milne.

History[edit]

Palmhouse Entrance
The newly opened Fernery at Benmore
The avenue of Giant Redwoods at Benmore
Waterfall in the rock garden stream

The Edinburgh botanic garden was founded in 1670 at St. Anne's Yard, near Holyrood Palace, by Dr. Robert Sibbald and Dr. Andrew Balfour. It is the second oldest botanic garden in Britain after Oxford's. The plant collection used as the basis of the garden was the private collection of Sir Patrick Murray, 2nd Lord Elibank, moved from his home at Livingston Peel in 1672 following his death in September 1671[2] In 1763, the garden's collections were moved away from the city's pollution to a site on the road to Leith, and the garden moved to its present location at Inverleith in 1820. The Temperate Palm House, which remains the tallest in Britain to the present day, was built in 1858.

The botanic garden at Benmore became the first Regional Garden of the RBGE in 1929. It was followed by the gardens at Logan and Dawyck in 1969 and 1978.[3]

The garden at Edinburgh[edit]

The Botanics at Edinburgh is a hugely important player in a worldwide network of institutions seeking to ensure that biodiversity is not further eroded. Located one mile from the city centre they cover approximately 70 acres.[4] The RBGE is actively involved in, and coordinates numerous in situ and ex situ conservation projects both in the UK and internationally. The three main cross-cutting themes of scientific work at the RBGE are: Scottish Biodiversity, Plants & Climate Change, and Conservation.

In addition to the RBGE's scientific activities the garden remains a popular destination for both tourists and locals. Locally known as "The Botanics", the garden is a popular place to go for a walk, particularly with young families. Entrance to the botanic garden is free, although a small entry charge exists for the glasshouses. During the year the garden hosts many events including live performances, guided tours and exhibitions. The RBGE is also an important centre for education, offering taught courses across all levels.

In 2009, the John Hope Gateway was opened. John Hope was the first Regius Keeper of RBGE.

Living collection[edit]

Nearly 273,000[1] individual plants are grown at the Botanics in Edinburgh or its three smaller satellite gardens (known as Regional Gardens) located in other parts of Scotland. These represent around 13,300[1] different species from all over the world, or about 4%[1] of all known plant species.

The RBGE Living Collection catalogue is available here and is updated nightly.

Some notable collections at the botanic garden Edinburgh include:

  • Alpine Plants
  • Chinese Hillside
  • Cryptogamic Garden
  • The Glasshouses
    • Palmhouse
      • Temperate Palms
      • Tropical Palms
    • Orchids and Cycads
    • Ferns and Fossils
    • Plants and people (including Giant Water Lily pond)
    • Temperate lands
    • Rainforest Riches
    • Arid Lands
    • Montane tropical house (including Carnivorous plants)
    • Wet Tropical House
  • Peat Walls
  • The Queen Mother's memorial garden.
  • Rock Garden
  • Scottish Heath Garden
  • Woodland Garden

Herbarium[edit]

The RBGE Herbarium (situated in a purpose built facility at the Edinburgh site) is considered a world-leading botanical collection, housing in excess of 3 million specimens. Prior to the formation of the Herbarium, plant collections tended to be the private property of the Regius Keeper. The Herbarium in its present form came with the fusion of the collections of the University of Edinburgh and the Botanical Society of Edinburgh in 1839-40. RBGE's Herbarium moved into its present, purpose-built home in 1964.

Over the years, a large number of collections have been added, belonging to individuals such as R.K. Greville and John Hutton Balfour, and institutions including the Universities of Glasgow, St Andrews and Hull. The most important historical collection is that of George Walker Arnott, which came with the University of Glasgow's foreign herbarium deposited on permanent loan in 1965. This collection contains specimens from all the major mid-19th century collectors, especially from India, North and South America, and South Africa, including type material of species described by ‘Hooker & Arnott'. From the early 20th century, collections have been made by members of staff.

The approx 20% of the Herbarium that has been databased is searchable here.

Library[edit]

RBGE's Library is Scotland's national reference collection for specialist botanical and horticultural resources. Housing around 70,000 books and 150,000 periodicals the research library is one of the country's largest . It has been built up to support the specific subject fields researched and taught at RBGE - Garden staff and students are its main users, along with visiting researchers. However, as a national reference collection, the Library is also open to members of the public, either in person or by telephone or e-mail.

Satellite gardens[edit]

Benmore[edit]

Situated on the West Coast of Scotland, Benmore Botanic Garden experiences a wetter and milder oceanic climate than the main site in Edinburgh. Benmore grows trees and shrubs from high rainfall areas, especially conifers and rhododendrons. Highlights of the collection include an avenue of Sequoiadendron and a recently refurbished Fernery, exhibiting rare ferns from both Britain and abroad.

Dawyck[edit]

Main article: Dawyck Botanic Garden

Situated to the south of the Scottish Border town of Peebles, Dawyck botanic garden is particularly suitable for hardy plants from the world's cooler, drier areas. Dawyck is also renowned for its high diversity of fungi and crytogamics.

Logan[edit]

Main article: Logan Botanic Garden

Logan, Scotland's most exotic garden, has an almost sub-tropical climate, and provides ideal growing conditions for southern hemisphere plants.


See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Rae D. et al. (2012) Catalogue of Plants 2012. Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. ISBN 978-1-906129-87-3.
  2. ^ William White (1889). Notes & Queries. Oxford University Press. 
  3. ^ Timeline from official RBGE site for this section.
  4. ^ [1] from official RBGE site for this section.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 55°57′56.17″N 3°12′23.98″W / 55.9656028°N 3.2066611°W / 55.9656028; -3.2066611