Summer ending and winter looming, there is still much to see at Scotland’s foremost botanical garden. Compact and more diverse than sprawling Kew, Edinburgh is a delight and manages to grow things that love an acid soil – fabulous rhododendrons, mecanopsis poppies and many forest shrubs. Of course, it also has a rock garden to die for (see above).
One of its specialities is the flora of the Himalayas and East Asia. There is an herbarium with extensive plant collections and a fold of taxonomists working away on all manner of plants.
But what’s to see? Well top of my list is the magnificent display of gentians close to the rock garden, showing wild speices from China and other garden-bred varieties.
Gentiana ternifolia ‘Cangshan’, from SW China
Gentiana ‘The Caley’
And then there were mysterious fruits of a species of Arisaema – and plenty of them:
Not much of the plants remained to be seen. But they had been scrambling around among other shrubs before they died down and it was not possible to track down a label. Here’s what the flower might look like, so it is worth looking out for in the summer months.
And among the trees there was this beautiful Asian Euonymous in fruit:
And a lovely Chinese rowan
To deviate from the east Asian theme, there is also a rather nice established grove of American giant redwoods. Bearing in mind their long life span, they can hardly be called mature but they are sizeable.
Edinburgh RBG is a lovely garden which, unlike Kew, is free to enter. However, they do charge £5 to visit the glasshouses.
It is a moderate walk from Princes Street and rewards the visitor with a wonderful view south to the city centre. Well worth a visit in anything but the worst weather.