Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

20A Inverleith Row
Edinburgh, Scotland

Contributed by Project for Public Spaces

Although it's primarily a scientific research institution, this 72-acre complex is the second most popular attraction in Scotland, after Edinburgh Castle.

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Why It Works

The Royal Botanic Garden provides not only a setting for people to learn about botany - making it, in that sense, an educational "place" - but it's also a place that people can come to for simple enjoyment. Education has always been an important aspect of the Garden. Originally, it was dedicated to botany students, but now it embraces casual visitors, from small children to senior citizens.

Along with its collection of more than 34,000 living plants, the Garden has a Herbarium, a library, laboratories, and ten greenhouses, as well as a terrace cafe and snack bar. It also boasts particularly well-designed entrances that group together a number of amenities (signage, benches, and food and gift kiosks) and encourage people to gather.

History & Background

Founded in 1670, the Garden received a Royal Charter and acquired regular funding from the crown in 1699. It was originally the size of a tennis court and has relocated several times to other sites around Edinburgh, including a former hospital. It has been at its present site since 1820, and expanded to 72 acres. The Garden is now a Trustee Body receiving annual grant-in-aid from the Scottish Office of Agriculture and Fisheries Department; it also raises substantial funds on its own, as well as through sponsorship and donations. Edinburgh's Friends of the Royal Botanic Garden is a nonprofit that exists to "support the garden and encourage interest in its work."

Photos courtesy Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Contact Info:

The Friends of the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh; 20A Inverleith Row, Edinburgh EH3 5LR; 031.552.5339

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