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The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

September 13, 2010

The history of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) dates back to 1670 when it began as

Scotland’s first physic garden on a patch of ground at Holyrood Park no bigger than a tennis court.

In a turbulent age when Scotland was impoverished by centuries of civil war and both Cromwell

and bubonic plague had left their mark on the capital city, Edinburgh still managed to produce the skills,

resources and determination to create one of Britain’s first botanic gardens.

Two adventurous doctors, Robert Sibbald and Andrew Balfour, who met in France

after travelling widely in Europe, leased their first plot near Holyrood Abbey

with the help of local physicians prepared to pay

for the cost of the “culture and importation of foreign plants”.

The collection of plants expanded with the British Empire. From a site at the head of the Nor’ Loch,

now the site of Waverley Station, the Garden relocated out of the city centre in 1763

to a ‘green field’ site on the ancient high road to Leith.

The final move to Inverleith in 1820 took three years and a lot of ingenuity

to deliver the entire collection of plants and mature trees using transplanting machines invented

by the Curator, William McNab.

As the Garden grew,gaining the grounds of Inverleith House for the arboretum and the

former territory of the Caledonian Horticultural Society for the Rock Garden,

so did the wealth of plants collected by Scottish plant hunters

in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In a partnership between botanist and gardener,

the plant hunter George Forrest introduced more than 10,000 specimens between 1905 and 1932

with the support of the then Regius Keepers Isaac Bayley Balfour and William Wright Smith.

Taken from the site about the Botanics here.

Beautiful staircase inside.

Inlaid wooden panel.

This also made me smile that I came across in an exhibition.

A Flowering shrub… you may think… but upon closer inspection…

and a brief explanation.

Whoever said Botanists don’t have a sense of humour !

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