Just when you thought the subject of Edinburgh was done with – here’s another episode (the last, I promise). Some years ago I watched a short television series based on Kate Atkinson’s books featuring detective Jackson Brodie* (brilliantly played by Jason Isaacs below). Rated by author Stephen King as “the best mystery of the decade,” Case Histories is set in Edinburgh. There was a short cafe scene filmed at the Royal Botanic Garden. Quite what it was that so captured my imagination I’m unsure, but the moment I saw it I said that one day I wanted to sit there drinking coffee too. I’ve thought about this many times so when we planned to visit the city, it was there on my list of things to do.
Big disappointment – I think that this picture was taken in the large foyer (plenty of room for camera crew etc.) as it doesn’t reflect either the Terrace cafe or the Gateway restaurant at all. I wanted coffee sitting amid that lush, over-sized foliage but neither venue offers such surroundings and the service in the latter left a a great deal to be desired! Debris-strewn tables, no interest in us as customers – we got up and left.
The gardens themselves however are fabulous, and were established in 1670 right where Waverley train station now sits, later moving to site a mile from the city centre. It now covers more than 70 acres.
A small building in the Queen Mother’s memorial garden is lined with shells and pebbles collected by schoolchildren all over Scotland.
Entry to the gardens is free, though a small charge is made on entry to the glasshouses (ten of them with the largest forming the entrance to them) which are home to all kinds of weird and wonderful plants.
We didn’t get to see everything – seventy acres is a large area to cover and 13,000 plant species too many to describe, but despite this took far too many photographs to show them all, or to even begin to portray the huge variety of plants but here are a few of my favourites including Himalayan blue poppies.
The tropical rain forest vegetation offered banana trees, rice, sugar and cocoa plants surrounding the lily pond, and very humid conditions.
We have Botanical gardens in Birmingham, a 40 minute train ride away and yet I have never been. What an omission and one that I need to rectify.
The sharp intake of breath from those who warned that the east coast of Scotland offered an unpredictable climate had been justified, though I suspect they weren’t referring to the unpredictable HOT temperatures and sunshine, so hot so that, at times, we needed to find shade.