Excerpt from the book Travels through History : Northern Ireland and ScotlandBelfast and the Causeway Coast has been rated best region in the world to visit in 2018 by Lonely Planet. In September 2017, Scotland was voted the most beautiful country in the world by a respected travel company, Rough Guides.
The original Edinburgh Botanical Garden was founded in 1670 at a place called St Anne’s Yard near Holyroodhouse. This site soon proved too small and, in 1676, grounds belonging to Trinity Hospital were leased from the City Council: this second garden was sited just to the east of the North Bridge. The site was subsequently occupied by tracks of the North British Railway and a plaque on platform 11 of Waverley railway station marks the location.
In 1763, the collections were moved away from the city’s pollution to a larger “Physick Garden” on the west side of Leith Walk. In the early 1820s under the direction of the then Curator, William McNab, the garden moved west to its present location adjacent to Inverleith Row, where current visitors can enter via one of the two entrances, the East Gate on Inverleith Row or the West Gate entrance on Arboretum Place. The most famous features are The Glasshouses including the Temperate Palm House, the tallest in Britain, which was built in 1858.
I would recommend starting at the East Gate, simply because it’s closer to the centre of the city and because you are instantly introduced to an outstanding feature of these gardens, namely the sculptures. Even before I entered the garden, I was impressed. The gates at the eastern entrance are intertwined stainless steel representations of rhododendron flowers, designed by Benjamin Tindall and created by the blacksmith, Alan Dawson.
Despite what you might be told at the tourist information you can catch the bus from the station on Edward Street in Georgetown to the Queen Elizabeth II Gardens in the Eastern Districts. It is five Cayman Island dollars in each direction and the journey takes between 30 and 40 minutes depending on various factors such as the number of passengers getting on and off.
The gardens are not on the designated route, but I was still dropped off outside the entrance by my wonderful driver Miss Edna. The best thing of all though is that the people in reception at the gardens will call the driver on the route and they will then come and pick you up in 15-20 minutes, depending where they are. That’s what I call a damn fine bus service and I would encourage you all to use it too.
The Gardens are lovely and I would recommend you go there just to see the Colour Gardens, where even the leaves of the plants are beautiful especially those of the croton. At the gardens there are parrots flying around along with Cayman Island swallowtail butterflies and many dragonflies. There are common moorhens in the ponds and lakes along with ducks and herons.
Just in case you thought gardens were a safe place, there is a ‘danger of death’ sign under one of the tallest pairs of coconut palms. A coconut dropping from thirty feet could be lethal so you have been warned.
There are blue iguanas in the gardens, which are an endangered species, so treat them with kindness and don’t feed them. They may seem slow and lazy but they can climb on to benches and chairs if they feel like it. If it rains tropically then there are various places to shelter around the park. You will need to find shelter too as that rain is heavy and the drops are large.