Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Botanics & Bits

And so it is that we come to the last instalment of some of our Edinburgh adventures. I could beguile you with tales of full body aromatherapy massages in the spa, salmon and caviar room service, the Red Hot Chili Pipers playing 'Smoke on the Water' or tartan corsets, or even a hundred thousand fireworks over the castle, but hey, some things are best kept private! For now though, let me take you on a bit of a tour of just some of the Edinburgh Royal Botanical Gardens.

These gardens hold a particularly special place in Amandas heart, as when she lived in Edinburgh, she would walk here many times with a friend, talking through lifes problems, including in the latter days whether I was the right man for her.

These are found to the north of the main part of the city, and as a gardener I must say that they are far superior in standard to Kew. Here can be found both formal and informal displays, large and small. And a  glassed over set of buildings housing some ten different zones.

All of the glasshouses are very cleverly planted to create as natural a feel as possible as one moves along the paths, finding vista after vista and flower after flower, and all in superb condition.

Don't ever let it be said that the scots are behind everyone else when it comes to keeping up with the times, for here can be found state of the art glasshouses that somehow blend incredibly well with their surroundings.

We spent all day here, walking, talking, taking hundreds of photos, touching everything in sight. We came across an enormous beech hedge acting as a backdrop to two vast herbaceous borders. It was several hundred yards long and only broken by this portal in the centre. As you walk through, you are met with a
long series of similar gardens, all divided from each other by incredibly tightly clipped Yew hedging.

This is the view to the left just before going through, and the scene is identical looking the other way! Even though it was now September, there was still quite a lot of colour around.

This is just one of the scenes in one of the zones of the glasshouses. Temperatures varied from the chill and breezy environment of the mountainside, through various other regions, and up to the hot and humid tropical jungle.......simply got to go back, that's all there is to it!

We came across hundreds of plants unknown to us as gardeners in the UK. This took my fancy but unlike everything else, I couldn't find a label. Does anyone know what it is please?

Numerous water displays made the jungles feel so natural by adding noise to the mix as well.

But of course everything good has to come to an end at some point.

And so it was that as the day grew cooler and came to a close, we had to leave. We stopped by the duck pond and talked about our botanical adventure before heading to the main entrance/exit.

Again, a state of the art building that merges with it's surroundings I think extremely well.

Above is a display in the entrance foyer of just some of the diversity of plant seeds that can be found. Only 48 here, how I wish that I could gain access to the main seed store!

Let me just take this opportunity to say let's not forget that all botanical gardens are now vital to our environment worldwide. Both Edinburgh and Kew house the largest store of plant seeds in the world. They are houses of learning and education that must be kept at all cost and so please visit them at every opportunity, not just once.

Lecture over, now let's move on to some other gardens I spotted around town.
Now, it's no secret that I am a bit of a 'nosy parker' where other peoples gardens are concerned. Many a time I have had quizzical looks from the owners of various residences as I push my head and camera through railings, walk up a garden path quickly or hang over the top of a wall like Chad.
Nevertheless, my technique has afforded me glimpses and photos of some quite extraordinary places.
There is a terrace, just before you enter the strange world that is the Dean Village, that really caught my eye!
Beautiful grey stone buildings, so typically Edinburghs style, and all with well kept and mostly very different styled front gardens. These were not gardens for relaxing in, but for show.

Apart from clinically clipped shrubs and coloured shingle and glass chips, and pristine borders, there was a series of different styled knot gardens in particular.
This one, portraying the sun and it's rays is something that I havent seen before. Wonderfully modern, clever, simple, and boy look at that clipping!

There were others, in a more traditional knot design (see first picture of three), but again, one that stood out was being maintained in a 'fluffier' way, with Catmint, Astilbe and Lavender as centres, and the trimming not quite so tight at this point.
I've planted many knot gardens, but have to say that I came away with quite a few new ideas from this place.

Our walk up Calton Hill on the last day gave us superb views of not only Arthurs Seat and Salisbury Crags, but on the other side was a part of the city that took our interest, for here were a couple of roof garden designs that warranted a picture.

The first is the roof of the shopping centre on Leith Street, and the second is on the office block next door. Amazing isn't it how when you are pacing through the busy streets of a city, you never know what is going on above. 'Bring on roof top gardens'...that's what I say!

That's all on the Edinburgh trip folks. I had hoped to end with a film clip of the castle firework display but Blogger won't let me download for some reason. Thanks for following and not falling asleep. Work in the meantime has carried on, cold crisp mornings are starting to appear (Yay!), and so I shall continue in a couple of days with normal tales of a gardener. TTFN


  1. Dear Gary, I have so enjoyed this virtual tour with you. From what you show here, I do so agree that the Botanical Gardens look so much more interesting than those of Kew. I love the way in which the contemporary has been mixed with the ancient in order that one feels that there is a looking forward to the future whilst still being custodians of the past. Just eactly as it should be in my view.

    As you may imagine, I love the small formal town gardens. Just Box and gravel - perfect!

    But, dear Gary, what of the tartan corsets? Shall we see you sporting one behind the lawnmower? And what clan do they represent?

  2. Hello, Gary! Lovely tour of Edinburgh! The gardens are truly wonderful. I haven't visited formal gardens such as this one in a long time...it's time for a trip! I enjoyed the views of the hedged "rooms". I also like the combination of old and new, traditional and contemporary, formal and informal. Fantastic tour! And, you're right to keep some things private as we bloggers might have too much fun at your expense!! :D Not to mention that your Amanda may turn many shades of red!!

  3. Hi Edith,
    The team at the Edinburgh gardens to seem to have some very forward thinking ideas. And there were also many dedicated gardeners working on the grounds.
    As for the corset, me behind the mower in one, now that is a thought best locked away I think. Let's just say it took Amandas fancy and was of the Royal Stuart pattern.

  4. Hi CCW,
    Thanks for your kind comments.
    The gardens in Edinburgh generally are really quite special and well worth a visit. We are already planning our return trip!

  5. Hi Allan,
    Glad you enjoyed. So much more I could tell, but we would be here forever.

  6. Dear Gary - thanks for the amazing tour. So much to see and marvel at. As a matter of interest, just wondered what inspired you the most. Not usually keen on knot gardens but taking a second look at these, I am beginning to see them in a new light.
    p.s. must have been a nostalgic trip for you and Amanda - re-visiting the place where she made the right decision!