Psst! I visited the Royal Botanic Garden in spring, when these pictures were taken. The gardens will be a fair bit different when you visit, depending on which time you go. Rest assured though, the gardens are gorgeous all year around! – The Edinbug
The Royal Botanic Garden, or “The Botanic Gardens”, or just “The Botanics”, are situated in Inverleith Park, to the north side of Stockbridge and around 20 minute walk from the city centre. You can enter either by the West Gate on Arboretum Place, or the East Gate on Inverleith Row. The Botanics are open from 10am, and shut at 6pm during the summer months, 4pm November to January and 5pm during the months of February and October.
History of the Royal Botanic Garden
The Botanics were established in the 17th century. Initially a garden primarily used to grow medicinal herbs and plants, the original site was based near Holyrood Palace. However, in the 18th century the specimens were moved from the pollution of the city to the large green space of Inverleith Park, where it can be still found today.
The gardens are the second oldest of its kind in the UK, after the Botanic Gardens in Oxford. Including its satellite gardens in Benmore, Dawyck and Logan, it has the second largest variety of plant species in the world, and is a internationally-renowned centre for the study of botany. However, I mostly know it as a fantastic place to wander around on a sunny afternoon!
Entrance to the gardens is free, however there is a charge if you want to explore the glasshouses, including the postcard-famous Palm House pictured above (£5 for adults, £4 for concessions and free for children under the age of 15).
However, try and get in if you can afford it, as it is home to lots of interesting tropical plants that wouldn’t normally be able to withstand Edinburgh’s chilly climate! The inside is humid but with so many types of plants to discover, you can quite easily wile away the best part of an hour exploring.
Apologies for the rubbish picture – I was going through a faux-vintage photography phase at the time – but trust me! It’s lovely inside.
The Rock Garden
One of my favourite areas of the Botanics is the Rock Garden. Here, you’ll find lots of varied plants such as crocuses, tulips, and the interesting looking boyo pictured above (unfortunately I have no idea what it is called)!
In any case, at any given time you’ll find over 5,000 species of plant living here, which range from sub-arctic to high mountain species. It’s the area I always used to make a beeline for as a kid, and I still do to this day.
The name for the pond is a bit misleading if I’m honest, because when I first spotted the “pond” on the map, I thought of something along the lines of the sorry thing that sulks at the bottom of my Dad’s garden – but not so!
The pond is a lovely place to sit and admire the view, and during the summer you aren’t able to move for the beautiful waterlilies that sprout through the surface. Even if you don’t visit during summer, you can still enjoy the stillness of the water (portrayed in a moody fashion by the picture above)…
If you don’t like plants…
…well first of all, what is wrong with you?! Secondly, there’s still plenty to keep you amused the Royal Botanic Garden.
There’s an aquarium, which can be accessed via the temperate lands glasshouse, which houses 15 tanks in total. Their primary purpose is to grow aquatic plants, however it also hosts lots of cute tropical fish that are very photogenic (just be careful with your flash!).
The John Hope Gateway located at the west entrance is also home to the Gateway Restaurant, which serves breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. There are even wedding facilities there, if you are so inclined!
Then, once you’ve been fed and watered, have a look around the souvenir shop and consider popping a pound or two in the donations pot on your way out, so we can keep the Royal Botanic Garden running for years and years to come.