The RBG: Edinburgh's Greenest Spot


Let's start by setting a few things straight: No, this post is not about Ruth Bader Ginsburg; it's about the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh. And while it shares the 'Royal' title with London's Kew Gardens, it's actually older by a century, and was founded in 1670, before Scottish King James VI of Scotland became James I of England.


For all that, it's much the smaller garden, with just over 70 acres compared to Kew's 300—but you'd almost never know it as you wander the nicely laid out trails and paths, and after all: how many acres do you see at one time, anyway? Like other 'vest-pocket' gardens, such as my home entry in Brooklyn, what makes the garden special is what you see at a moment, rather than a vast expanse.


In the Edinburgh garden there are stately greenhouses, there are forest paths such as the one at the top, there are specialized exhibits including one of plants adapted to far northern climates, and especially there are riots of color.


Not all the colorful displays are as fiery as all that; other parts of the spectrum are well-represented.


Stepping back a bit from the close-ups, the views across lawns are also lovely, although they occasionally include background reminders that we are still in a city.

P1010628P1010629P1010631P1010644Because Edinburgh is well to the north, it makes sense to feature a section devoted to Arctic and Alpine plants (although it's nowhere near as far north as the garden at Tromso, Norway, which claims to be the furthest north, and the largest Arctic and Alpine exhibit).


And there's a tree trail, marked with signs along the way, identifying different kinds of trees that are native to Scotland. As a long-retired printer with an interest in that history, I was interested to discover that holly wood (not Hollywood!) played a key role in printing history; its close grain made it possible to accurately carve tiny letters. But I can't tell you which of these trees it is!


And while 'green' seems to be the color that comes readily to mind when we talk about 'evergreens,' here's proof that it's not the only color...


Another use for trees: Climbing! We passed by this popular activity, and I was tempted, but not tempted enough to join the class.


One of the RBG's more unusual features is this very long and very tall hedge. It's 8 metres high and was first planted just after World War I. It's actually a dense planting of beech trees, chosen because the leaves stay attached over the winter until new ones appear. The hedge is clipped every September using a tower ladder.


And a few more views on our way back to the 'real world.'



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The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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