You might think that the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh is its only location in Scotland. Nope. It’s just first among four, all in the southern part of Scotland.
The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Inverleith Row, Edinburgh, Scotland, is open daily (except December 25 and January 1). It was founded in 1670 as a physic garden (herb garden with medicinal plants) on a mall patch of ground at Holyrood Park no bigger than a tennis court. After intermediate stops, it moved to Inverleith in 1820 and is about a mile from the city center. There are more than 70 acres to explore.
The physic garden’s modern incarnation, the herbarium, is the subject of a tour at 2 p.m. March 14, 2014. Visitors will learn about the diversity and significance of the Garden’s collection of almost 3 million plant specimens. It’s part of the Herbarium Building’s 50th Anniversary celebrations in 2014.
By the way, if you’re headed to Scotland right now — it’s not true that nothing blooms in winter. The Edinburgh gardens have winter-flowering trees and shrubs such as Mahonia and the evergreen Christmas box, a bank of winter-flowering viburnums and a lawn surrounded by Chinese and Japanese witch hazels, which flower from about December to March.
Of course, the gardens come into their own in spring — first with snowdrop trees (Halesia carolina) and rhododendrons, and then with lilacs, primula and Himalayan poppies (Meconopsis).
*The Benmore Botanic Garden, Dunoon, Argyll, Scotland, is set within the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park and the Argyll Forest Park, about seven miles north of Dunoon on the Cowal Peninsula. A mountainside garden, it’s open daily from March 1 through October 31. (photo above)
Signature feature is its Victorian Fernery. The one at Benmore was built at the height of the Victorian craze for ferneries. Another highlight is the avenue of Sierra redwoods, a tree native to the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains in California.
*Dawyck Botanic Garden, Stobo, Near Peebles, Scottish Borders, is about 28 miles south of Edinburgh. An arboretum, it is open daily from February 1 through November 30.
The Swiss Bridge is the Garden’s defining landmark. On one side of the bridge is the Kalopanax, a tree member of the ivy family. Opposite is what’s believed to be one of the original Douglas firs at Dawyck. Upstream are the falls of Scrape Burn which is flanked by a cascade of snowdrops in spring.
*Logan Botanic Garden, Port Logan, Stranraer, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland, is found at the southwestern tip of Scotland: 14 miles south of Stranraer in the Rhins of Galloway. (Note: Logan Botanic Garden is NOT the same place as Logan House Gardens.)
Warmed by the Gulf Stream, southern hemisphere plants flourish in the country’s most exotic garden. It’s open daily from March 15 through October 31 — plus Sundays in February. A walled garden, it includes cabbage palms, Chusan palms and tree ferns. The atmosphere on a sunny day is said to be quite tropical.