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Garden of the Season – Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

April 3rd 2023

Why should we visit?

The ‘Botanics’ is a 70-acre oasis of trees, grass and plant life in the heart of Edinburgh. It has sunny lawns, shady spots beneath mature trees, winding paths through woodland and slopes where plants from around the world flourish. There are flowers for all seasons, picnic spots, excellent cafes, abundant wildlife and a varied programme of exhibitions and installations that explore the world of plants and our relationship with them.

Story of the Garden

The garden was founded 350 years ago as a physic garden for surgeons and student doctors. From its early beginnings at Holyrood Palace, it had several homes before finally settling in its present location in 1820.

It has since developed into a world-leading centre of plant science, research, conservation and education,with many important botanical collections, international partnerships, historical archives and, in the Edinburgh Biomes project, a mission to restore and expand its glasshouses into a major facility for protecting some of the world’s most endangered plants.


The Alpine houses contain a collection of jewel-like small plants from the world’s mountainous regions and these start to flower in early spring. Close by there are scented witch hazels,narcissi, fritillaries and small irises, while on the Chinese Hillside, which is home to one of the largest collections of native plants outside of China, buds are starting to open.

Don’t Miss

The Botanics Cottage was an important part of the garden when it was located on Leith Walk, but over a long period of time it fell into disrepair. A scheme was launched to remove it, stone by stone, and after many years in storage it was finally rebuilt on its present site where it now provides an educational resource and meeting place for some of the many groups from across Edinburgh that are part of an ‘Edible Garden’ project, which teaches food growing skills.



Anything else to look out for?

The huge pond is a magnet for birdlife and the expansive rock garden is one of the finest in the UK. The garden also has a collection of species rhododendrons and an azalea lawn, which is a riot of colour in April and May. Within the Heath Garden, there is a collection of plants that are native to Sotland and in summer, flowers of all kinds can be found in herbaceous borders that are backed by a tall beech hedge.

Best Time to Visit

The Botanics is a year-round attraction, with interesting stems in winter,  displays of bulbs and shrubs in spring, flowers and vegetables in summer and excellent autumn colour.

Any Recommendations in the Area

The Water of Leith flows close to the southern end of the Botanics and its riverbanks can be walked in a 13 mile trail that runs from Balerno to the coast, passing the Water of Leith Visitor Centre near Saughton. Along the way walkers and cyclists may spot kingfishers and otters.


There are entrances to the Botanics on Arboretum Place and Inverleith Row and regular services from the city centre on bus routes 8, 23 and 27.


The Botanics is open daily, 10am - 6pm

Entry is free.

Tel: 0131 248 2909

[email protected]

Courtesy of The Herald