Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Rambling and Relaxing: The Royal Botanic Garden


With all the madness of moving into and furnishing my flat, orienting myself in Edinburgh, taking care of University paperwork, and getting to know my (lovely) flatmates, I needed some serious peace and solitude.  So when I woke up to beautiful weather yesterday- which is rare in Edinburgh- I decided to ditch all the running around for a few hours and visit Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden.

A lovely view of the city skyline
Even though the garden is only a short bus ride from the city centre, I haven’t yet made it there on any of my previous trips to Scotland.  This is a bit ridiculous, as it’s one of Edinburgh’s most popular attractions, and it’s free!

I hopped on a bus near my flat, and it took me all the way to the Garden’s East entrance.  It would have been easy to miss this gate- it’s smaller and not as well-marked as the main entrance on the West side.  Luckily, I had a map and a general idea of where I needed to get off- If you ever visit Edinburgh, I highly recommend print out a bus guide from lothianbuses.com- it’s been a complete lifesaver for me!

At the entrance, I paid one pound for a park map, and began to ramble.  Different sections feature plants from all over the world, all well marked with explanations of how different flora and fauna evolved and adapted to diverse environments.  The Chinese Garden was especially scenic and impressive, with traditional sculptures and pavilions, and a hillside walk that I counted as my exercise for the day.

While these regional sections were impressive, my favorite part was the Scottish Heath Garden.  A wooded pathway right near the East Gate, this walk featured plants native to Scotland.  Signs next to these plants not only identified them, but also detailed their uses throughout Scottish history- I loved imagining Scottish cottars weaving baskets or making mattresses out of heather!
 
In addition to plant life, The Royal Botanic Garden showcases the work of artists from around the world.  Right now, wildy painted jungle animals are scattered throughout the garden, as part of Edinburgh’s Jungle City program, to raise funds to protect endangered animals.  Also, inside the West Gate Building housed an exhibition of pieces made from recycled materials- very impressive.

Before I left, I was sure to see the impressive glasshouses (I didn’t go inside- there’s a 4 pounds entrance fee), the Queen Mother's Garden, and Inverleith house (a exhibition hall).  When I exited through the West Gate, I felt rejuvenated and ready to get back to the hustle and bustle of the city center.

The Greenhouses

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