SCOTLAND: Edinburgh – Royal Botanic Garden

Inverleith Row, Edinburgh, EH3 5LR

t 0131 552 7171

Edinburgh Botanic Gardens
Photograph Alan Bromley

The Collection

The glasshouse complex at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh (RBGE) is the jewel in the crown of this wonderful green oasis in Scotland’s capital. A modest entry charge (the main gardens are free) gives you access to ten different environments, including the Arid Lands House. The greenhouse has a broad central path resembling a dried-out river bed, leading through a planted rocky landscape with themes representing both the New World cacti and succulents along with aloes and euphorbias from Africa and the Middle East.  Many are to be found alongside other plants, some of which are true companion plants but other are ones that add interesting contrast, such as cycads, bromeliads, ferns, and many herbs and annuals.

The collection has some very old plants, including a clump of four enormous Nolina recurvata, a very large Dioscorea elephantipes, Fouquieria splendens, Euphorbia abyssinica, E. ingens, Dracaena cinnabari, and Cyphostemma juttae. The living collection can be seen here:

Outside there is a converted plunge bench that has been adapted for perennial planting, with a polycarbonate roof protecting the plants from the worst of the winter rain. Included here are desert shrubs and ferns and many cacti: Opuntia, Echinopsis, and Gymnocalycium species, as well as succulents such as agaves and echeverias, all planted in pure sand.

Nearest BCSS Branch


Meetings are held in Cupar. Please see the Branch website for meeting dates and programme.

A Member’s View

The greenhouse complex is worth a visit in itself, but the gardens as a whole are beautiful and a great way to spend a few relaxing hours. The Arid Lands collection is an imaginative display with lots of familiar, and less familiar, species. Senior Horticulturalist, Gunnar Ovstebo, has done a great job in developing the collection.

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