Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Edinburgh's Royal Botanical Gardens

We tacked on 2-3 days for exploring Edinburgh after our trip, and our first stop was the Royal Botanical Gardens.  This time we were staying at a B&B right in Edinburgh, just south of the new Scottish Parliament buildings.  Thus we could take a quick taxi north to the gardens, entering by this shiny rock garden gate rather than the main entrance.

We'd been here before at the end of our very first trip to look at gardens in England, so we knew what we wanted to see.  We were after the rock garden and the alpine garden especially.

The rock garden is something else to see, rolling knolls and small valleys now covered in a collection of mature shrubs and flowers.  It was drizzling the day we visited, that constant Scottish smirr that left this garden looking a thousand shades of green rather than colourful.

Mrs. F.G. herself was very colourful that day!

Walking through the beautiful grove of specimen trees toward the main greenhouses we passed a Tulip tree with a bloom so low I could get a photo.  It really does look like a Tulip bloom in shape.

Of course there were a few Monkey Puzzle trees, one of those unusual trees brought back by the early plant collectors as they roamed the globe.  Monkey Puzzle trees are native to Chile and also known as Chilean Pine.

Shortly we found ourselves in front of the original greenhouse, the Palm House.  Outside, lying on the ground, was this truly ancient fossilized tree older than the dinosaurs that I wanted to see.  It's another earthcache.

Inside were all manner of tropical plants including this one, but we didn't stay long; we were headed for the alpine garden.

The alpine garden is hemmed in by this beautiful flat rock wall, teeming with plants hanging down over the edge or out of crevices.

Ironically, for they are certainly hardy plants, native to high elevations of mountains around the world, alpine plants need protection from the wet Scottish winters and from summer heat. so some of them must be grown in greenhouses.

The alpine garden in Edinburgh is a world renowned collection of mostly tiny alpine plants, some protected in the greenhouse, other growing in the open, many of them in small troughs.

Of all the gardens we've visited in Europe, this one provided the most specific ideas we brought home.  Mrs. F.G. was the plant collector, and had already been building troughs, but I did the grunt work as the undergardener at our previous house.  From this Edinburgh garden I brought home the idea of developing a scree garden, with mostly alpine plants that would survive in southern Ontario.  And it became one of my favourite little patches of unusual plants in our garden.


  1. Another beautiful place to which you have guided us. Thank you again for letting us tag along on your travels.

  2. Ahhh…so relaxing to view through your lens. It must be wonderful to stroll through.

  3. It looks wonderful, even in the rain. Of course, you won't persuade me that it outshines the Cambridge Botanic Garden!

  4. Not only was it a great visit, but you were able to adapt some of what you saw to your own place here in the colonies.

  5. What a beautiful place! I love the pretty gardens you show here. And Mrs. FG is perfect in red!

  6. I will probably never get there so thanks for taking us on this tour.

  7. What beautiful gardens! Another place to put on my bucket list. Thanks for sharing!

  8. That must have been an amazing trip!

  9. Another great travel memory. The whole place has so many fascinating things to see. There are so many plants that they have to tend.

  10. Very nice indeed and yes, Mrs. F.G. was looking very colourful too :)

    All the best Jan