Half of the population in Edinburgh probably visited the Royal Botanic Gardens over the past weekend as Britain experienced an unseasonably warm few days. I am included in that generalisation because I did indeed visit the gardens myself and basked in the lovely sunshine, though for perhaps too long without sun cream.
I have visited the gardens before but that was back in December. Dan and I visited over the Christmas period for a somewhat chilly walk before heading back to Princes Street and the Christmas Market. We didn’t go inside the glasshouses, instead, I chased squirrels around with my camera trying to get a good shot, I wasn’t particularly successful.
As lovely as our little wander was I had hoped to go back when more of the flowers were coming to bloom and the gardens were a little more alive in general. They did not disappoint this Spring. Everywhere you looked there were lush greens, blooming pinks and striking reds creating a magical and grounding sense of calm. It didn’t quite have the feel of a secret garden as it was so busy with other people who had also come to experience the sunshine.
Abbie and I visited the glasshouses first and paid a concession entrance fee. The first greenhouse, the Temperate Palm House, was perhaps my favourite because of the tall tree that stretched to the middle of the dome created a beautiful centre point. There were also some spiral staircases either side of the entrance doors which seemed to add awareness to the height of the room.
I’m certainly no plant expert so rather than talking about all the individual rooms I’ll just show some of the photos that Abbie and I took inside. For those of you who are interested, there were houses dedicated to orchids, ferns and plants from the rainforest amongst many more.
The Arid Lands House (cactus room) is always a big hit for me when we go to indoor gardens like this. The one in Aberdeen is truly magnificent with walkways that wind away from each other and cacti that reach the ceiling. Perhaps this is why I was expecting more from the Botanics in Edinburgh. I had pictured a huge room, accentuated by the varying sizes of plants as you walk through the room so I was slightly disappointed to find it was not as grand as the house in Aberdeen but perhaps that it’s my own fault for having such high expectations in the first place.
After leaving the glasshouses, Abbie and I wandered around the gardens towards the Chinese Hillside. We sat on a bench underneath a gorgeous tree that was flowering while we waited for Lisa to arrive. When she did, we went on the hunt for blossoms to take pictures of like we had seen on Instagram.
As the gardens had been particularly busy the resident squirrels had been hiding for most of the day but at around 3pm they made an appearance for food from a man who had been feeding them for over a year. I didn’t speak to him directly but I overheard him talking to a couple about how they recognise his voice and climb up his leg, which he proved by rolling up the bottom of his trousers to reveal multiple scars. I got a bit angry with my camera when it took so long to take photos as there were a couple of occasions when I got really close to the squirrels but they ran away just as I took a photo.
I was slightly more successful with the ducks than the squirrels as another man gave me some seeds to feed them with. I didn’t take any pictures of them because I was too busy trying to befriend them with food.
As much as I love the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh I think I prefer Duthie Park in Aberdeen. It’s not as elegant and definitely more aimed at children but I have so many memories of it from when I was younger, it is kind of hard for any other garden or park to compete. Duthie Park is also home to McPuddock, the gargling frog which really can’t be topped anywhere.
If you’d like to visit the Royal Botanic Gardens there are buses that stop directly outside the gate entrance but if you are going on a lovely day like I did, it’s not too far a walk from the Centre of Edinburgh. There are beautiful houses to look at on the way from Princes Street, many of which have some really lovely doors.
This year I’d like to go back during Christmas time to see the Botanics all lit up at night. It seems to be a similar concept to that of the Enchanted Forest in Pitlochry which I utterly adore because of the truly magical atmosphere it creates. However, that is still eight months away so I have plenty of time to go back before then.
All photos of me were taken by Abbie Strachan – @abbiestrachan13