Royal Botanical Gardens – Edinburgh

Excerpt from the book Travels through History : Northern Ireland and Scotland  Belfast 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.

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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.

Take the kids to … Penshurst Place and Gardens, Kent

History lesson and fun family day out combine at this sumptuous medieval house and its gardens near Tonbridge. The cycle ride to it is a joy as well

Barcelona’s open-air cabinet of curiosities, the Jardí Botànic

The author of new guide Quiet Barcelona sings the praises of this peaceful garden high on the slopes of Montjuïc

In Bruges, unwind amid the calm of an almshouse garden

Many of Bruges’s 44 almshouses have hidden gardens, which are ideal spaces for contemplating its historic atmosphere. This is one of the best

2016 Trip – Tip 4 – France Avignon

Another day, another tip to visit a garden, this time in Avignon. Past the Palais des Papes visitors should go up the incline to the right of the Petit Palais Museum and follow the path/road around until there’s green space all around. This is Le Jardin du Rocher des Doms and the views over the Rhone Valley and Avignon are splendid. Visitors can also see the broken bridge – St Benezet Bridge – which inspired the children’s rhyme. The Ramparts are clearly visible and these can be visited, though entrance to the bridge is not possible due to a locked gate.

2016 Trip – Tip 3 – France – In Nimes

When you visit Nimes make sure to look at some sights other than The Arena. If you are lucky enough to have the Michelin – Languedoc Roussillon Tarn Gorges – Guide, follow the two walk suggestions in there, especially the one that takes you to the wonderful Jardins de la Fontaine. Watch as men play petanque, children race around the colonnaded terraces, and families feed swans. There’s also another Roman temple here and also the last remaining remnant of the original Roman fortifications.

Don’t miss the Maison Carree or the Modern Art Museum opposite. The TER train takes 35 minutes from Avignon to Nimes. The train station is lovely and the staff are helpful when something goes wrong, such as when a train hits someone on the tracks and the line is blocked as happened today.