As Fleurs de Villes VOYAGE prepares to land in Edinburgh (September 15-24, 2023) we explore this blooming city.
Scotland’s capital city, established in the 15th Century, is known for its stunning Georgian architecture, bucolic country surroundings, and lively festival atmosphere. Edinburgh Castle is the focal point of the city’s skyline, while Old Town and New Town delineate the cityscape. Together with the Forth Bridge, they are designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Edinburgh is also known as an important centre of education and research, especially in the fields of medicine, literature, philosophy, science and medicine. Because of its neoclassical architecture and intellectual prowess, Edinburgh is popularly referred to as the Athens of the North. The city itself is home to just over half a million people, however its many historical and cultural attractions attract five million visitors a year.
Amidst the urban hustle and bustle, the city's public gardens stand as tranquil oases, offering respite to both locals and visitors. With a fascinating history rooted in gardening and a diverse array of native flowers, Edinburgh's floral attractions are a treat for nature enthusiasts and history buffs alike.
FLORAL ATTRACTIONS AND EDINBURGH’S HISTORY
The history of gardens and flowers in Edinburgh is deeply intertwined with the city's cultural evolution. In the 18th century, the Scottish Enlightenment led to a surge in interest in botany and horticulture. The Royal Botanic Garden played a pivotal role in this era of scientific discovery, with explorers and botanists using the garden as a hub for studying and cultivating plants from around the world.
Edinburgh's gardens have also witnessed historical milestones. Princes Street Gardens, for instance, originated as a drained loch and later hosted grand exhibitions like the International Exhibition of Industry, Science, and Art in1886, that showcased advancements in horticulture and technology.
In modern times, Edinburgh's gardens continue to play a crucial role in education, conservation, and recreation. The Royal Botanic Garden conducts vital research on plant diversity and climate change, while public gardens offer residents and tourists an opportunity to engage with nature.
EXPLORING EDINBURGH’S BLOOMING BEAUTY
Edinburgh boasts a collection of exquisite public gardens that provide an escape from the urban environment. These green sanctuaries are not only beautifully landscaped but also offer insights into the city's horticultural heritage. Some of the most notable public gardens include:
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Established in 1670, the Royal Botanic Garden is a world-leading centre for horticulture and is home to one of the most vast collections of flora on Earth, spread over 70 acres. Pioneering botanist Isobel Wylie Hutchinson, who was featured in the Fleurs de Villes FEMMES Edinburgh show in 2022, is a large part of this legacy, having bravely collected specimens from the arctic at the turn of the century.
Princes Street Gardens
Nestled in the heart of the city, Princes Street Gardens are divided into two sections by the historic Scott Monument. These gardens offer stunning views of Edinburgh Castle and the surrounding architecture, making them a perfect spot for both relaxation and sightseeing.
While not a traditional garden, The Meadows is a vast public park where locals gather for picnics, sports, and leisure activities. During spring, cherry blossoms and daffodils abound, while in summer, it transforms into a colorful tapestry of wildflowers.
NATIVE FLOWERS OF EDINBURGH
Edinburgh's natural beauty is enriched by its native flora, adapted to the region's climate and soil conditions. Some of the native flowers that grace the area include:
Scottish Bluebell (Campanula rotundifolia): Often found in woodlands and meadows, the Scottish Bluebell adds a delicate touch of blue-purple to the landscape during spring.
Scottish Thistle (Onopordum acanthium): This iconic national symbol is known for its spiky appearance and purple flower head. It has historical significance as a symbol of Scotland's defiance and resilience.
Heather (Calluna vulgaris): While more associated with the Scottish Highlands, heather's vibrant pink and purple blooms can also be found in the outskirts of Edinburgh. It's a hardy plant that carpets the moorlands. Read more about the significance of heather in Scotland here.
From September 15 - 24, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh will host Fleurs de Villes VOYAGE - a stunning travel-themed showcase of local floral talent featuring floral installations celebrating the cultures, people and heritage of destinations inspired by the Garden’s botanical collections. Click here to learn more.