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Visitor Numbers Grow at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

January 12th 2018

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh attracts its biggest numbers since the 1930s

The opportunity to see new, unusual plantings from around the world and fine weather during spring last year helped to attract over one million visitors to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) and its three Regional Gardens.

In 2017, the flagship Edinburgh Garden attracted 904,956 people, the largest number of visitors on record since 1936.  Factors contributing to growth included the blooming of the Garden’s exotic Amorphophallus plant, which drew thousands of visitors in summer, and the recent success of the Garden’s Christmas at the Botanics event which sold 70,000 tickets.

RBGE’s Regional Gardens Benmore, Dawyck and Logan also recorded significant increases in visits with figures exceeding 110,000 across the three sites.

Commenting, Regius Keeper Simon Milne said:  “More people than ever are choosing to visit us to learn about our Living Collection of plants, attend an event or exhibition or simply to relax in our Gardens.  It is terrific that we are making a positive difference to people’s daily lives by providing places of discovery and relaxation.”

A survey of visitors to the Edinburgh site last summer showed that, as well as visiting the Garden to enjoy the plants (75 per cent), many people came to relax (59 per cent) or to enjoy peace and quiet (30 per cent).  Two thirds of visitors also said that they had discovered something new during their visit and were aware of the organisation’s plant research and conservation work.

Simon Milne added:  “It was busy year for our intrepid teams of botanists and horticulturists who undertook expeditions around the world including Indonesia, China, Nepal and Chile, and discovered 43 species of plants new to science, and who led conservation field work in Scotland’s own natural habitats.

“We are always keen to share news about our science and conservation projects and remain thankful of the vital financial support we receive from visitors.  This support comes through Glasshouse admissions, entry to our regional Gardens, secondary spend in our shops and restaurants or through membership and donations.”

In recent years, visits to Edinburgh’s Glasshouses have more than doubled, from 52,140 in 2012 to 117,360 in 2017.  The 10 Glasshouses are home to over 3,000 exotic plants from around the globe including a renowned collection of tropical species, including the famous Amorphophallus, reflecting RBGE’s expertise in that part of the world.

Elsewhere in Scotland, RBGE’s five star Dawyck Botanic Garden in the Scottish Borders recorded its best year on record, attracting 36,022 visitors. A number of successful collaborations with local hotels and tourism bodies contributed to this success.

Dawyck’s curator Graham Stewart said: “The weather also played a part with a good early season and spring conditions with few frosts leading to one of our best flowering seasons.  This helped to keep numbers buoyant during some wetter months.”

Logan Botanic Garden, RBGE’s five star Garden on the south west tip of Scotland in Dumfries & Galloway attracted 24,695 visitors, its highest visitor figure in the last 10 years.  New and unusual plantings from Australasia and South Africa, including tender plants housed in its recently-built Logan Conservatory, have been an added attraction.

Benmore Botanic Garden in Argyll attracted 50,410 visitors, its best year in eight years.  An increase in group visits, including coach and cruise parties, helped to boost figures as well as new highlights at the Garden including the Torii Gates, the Chilean and Bhutanese Pavilions and the Wildlife Hide, erected in 2017, where visitors can enjoy regular sightings of red squirrels.

Other contributing factors to visitor growth include an overall increase in tourism to Scotland, particularly to Edinburgh, and the increasing profile of the Snowdrop and Rhododendron Festivals run by Discover Scottish Gardens, Scotland’s national gardens tourism body.


For further information and to arrange interviews, please contact Sandra Donnelly in the RBGE press office on 0131 248 1037.