Any holiday spent in Edinburgh deserves to include a visit to the delightful Royal Botanic Gardens.
Although not on the same scale as Kew (a mere 70 acres), these gardens have just as much charm and a wonderful amount of variety. Like Kew there are some huge glass houses within the gardens. Ten separate rooms in these glasshouses are designed to create as many different climates and habitats so it is, of course, like rapidly passing from one part of the world to another.
There are huge palms, giant waterlilies, and the largest collection of wild Chinese plants outside China.
Outside highlights include the Arboretum, the Scottish Heath garden, the renowned Alpine Rock Garden, the glorious 165 foot herbaceous border and the Woodland Garden.
As a family outing this is an ideal environment. Children can roam freely – ambushing parents, or just be pushed around in buggies – whilst discovering a wide variety of birds and remarkably bold squirrels.
Picnicking is an excellent option – but there are very good eating options in the grounds also for meals or just coffee.
If you fancy a guided walk, the garden rangers offer a free service most days of the week at particular times of the day. You can find details through the Edinburgh Activities page on the apartment website.
The gardens also contain a building, Inverleith House that hosts exhibitions throughout the year. Currently there is a sculpture exhibition by Karla Black along with paintings by Bet Low. Past exhibitions include a favorite of mine – Andy Goldsworthy. He used the space as the starting point for his inspiration, dividing one room entirely with a delicate lattice work of chestnut leaf stalks.
Elsewhere in the garden there is a craft project called “The Wych Elm Project”, running until 21st March 2010. This was inspired by the felling of a huge Elm in 2003. The wood is now being used to create a wide variety of works by craftsmen such as wood carvers and wood turners.
I hope this gives you the inspiration to visit the gardens – they are certainly worthwhile – and if you’ve anything to add let me know!