Today’s post is the fourth in the ‘HPH visits…‘ series + we are jumping on that lovely train route I mentioned in my previous instalment (The Barbican Conservatory) + we are visiting Scotland! Virtually of course — we are still a way off any sort of travel here in the UK. If this is the first in the series you have stumbled across, there’s a tab on the HPH homepage I invite you to peruse. These posts are intended as a way for us to virtually visit botanical gardens together as I’ve not shared any of these trips before. There’s research to suggest that even by simply looking at photographs of green spaces, we can slow down our heart rates + feel more relaxed, so I hope you enjoy this post!
As I was collating my photographs together from this trip, I soon realised I would need to make Edinburgh a two-part post because alongside the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) visit, I have so much more to show you from around my favourite parts of the City. Edinburgh residents know how to small space garden + I always leave feeling so inspired after exploring the vicinity of Stockbridge (where I always stay), which is in walking distance from the hustle + bustle of the Capital, but more on that in Part 2.
The botanic garden was founded in 1670 + is actually the second oldest in the UK, after the botanic garden, Oxford — I have also visited here + will share in a future ‘HPH visits…‘ post.
As a huge Aspidistra fan, I always love being welcomed by a big display lining an entrance hall! These leaves look so good planted as a big swathe of green like this (below left). There were also some great plants for sale, including a healthy variety of houseplants. I had to restrain myself greatly from a couple of purchases, particularly a Medinilla magnifica (large image below) which has been high on my plant wish list for years! But I wasn’t going home for quite a while after this trip so it wasn’t really viable (+ yes, I did think about posting it to myself). I still think about that plant today — I have seen a few other battered ones since but none have really stood out to me yet. I have a very specific plant styling idea in my head for this plant, so one day, I will make sure I get my hands on one!
Whilst the glasshouses are a big draw of the RBGE, I always enjoy the outdoor planting at botanic gardens because gardening in a colder climate is very much on my mind right now. After bracing the first Winter in a new colder location, I’m especially interested in hardy planting that can withstand these kind of conditions.
This large lace-cap hydrangea was absolutely breathtaking + I just love the softness it adds to this border :
As a houseplant enthusiast, I find the relation or interplay between outside + inside planting a very interesting consideration + love the thought of a planting scheme blurring the boundaries across areas of glass such as windows, french doors or bi-folds. The large glasshouses + their surrounding planting here at RBGE really got me thinking about this in more detail. The photo above right has such depth as a result of the positioning of the outdoor plants around the glass, with the ferns inside the greenhouse peeking through. On that note, I’ve been putting together a post that’ll be up in a week or so about my external planting inspiration so I’ll go more into that topic then.
The iconic temperate palm house as you can see below is the tallest glasshouse in the UK at 21.95m/ 72ft tall + of this classic style, is one of the tallest palm houses in the world! It was built in 1858 by Scottish Architect, Robert Matheson. He is buried in the historic Dean cemetery, which is a stone’s throw away from where we will be visiting in Part 2 of this Edinburgh post.
On entering the glasshouse, the statuesque arched windows create a luminous atmosphere which leads the eye up to take in the sheer height of the ceilings here. Furthermore, the iron columns function in a similar way + really showcase the architecture of the space + how the building is constructed, whilst also mimicking the trunks of the plantings here, such as the gigantic palms. Around the perimeter of much of this space was a beautiful chunky stone worktop area, lined with pots taking advantage of the natural light here. I loved this feature of the space + the uniformity of terracotta pots with little feet had an understated elegance. These materials obviously also work well for the practical side of plant care + the watering of these pots!
For the Begonia lovers, there was quite a collection — I particularly enjoyed finding this beautiful display of Begonia venosa below left + the cluster of soli-mutata nestled between rocks below right:
Things got very jungly here…
I always look out for plants that I have in my houseplant collection, here’s one of my Aglaonema below left (looking considerably better than my plant after winter I might add!)
Tillandsia / Spanish moss almost like a curtain, just a beautiful pale silver-green colour against the darker hues:
Climbing monstera of dreams below right…I can’t wait to give mine more space to climb (albeit on a smaller scale) as it’s almost hitting the low ceilings in this cottage!
Think this one above is a wild ginger lily (Hedychium). Just look at those epic tree ferns below:
A humungous spider plant + some Rhipsalis (Jungle cacti):
By the time we got to the arid house, the morning haze had lifted + it felt lovely + warm under the glass here.
I have a few Euphorbia but this just puts them all to shame:
Again, HPH houseplant spotting — a fantastic large-leafed Fittonia in bloom above + Saxifraga stolonifera below. As a houseplant Saxifraga stolonifera (commonly referred to as a strawberry begonia, but it’s not a Begonia FYI) is generally sold as a hanging plant, but if planted along the ground like this, the plantlets that shoot off the pink runners will easily propagate to create this type of display:
So there we go, I hope you enjoyed a walk around the RBGE with me! I look forward to visiting again in the future, especially now that I live closer. Everything in this part of the city around the Botanic garden feels quite village-y + walkable + if you enjoy architecture too, there are some magnificent period homes to feast your eyes on as you stroll around. The inclement weather conditions + chilly Winter temperatures in this part of the country feels very relatable + is proof that you really can grow a garden in a city, even in the smallest of spaces. Whether it’s a small display on the front steps or a window box or two, Edinburgh knows how to embrace some serious small scale gardening which I think you will really enjoy seeing. More on that in Part 2…It’ll be up as an extra mid-week post next Wednesday.