Five most historic gardens in Edinburgh to visit

We discover the most ancient gardens in the capital for a shady summer stroll through tranquil gardens.
Dunbar's Close Garden. Picture: WikimediaDunbar's Close Garden. Picture: Wikimedia
Dunbar's Close Garden. Picture: Wikimedia

The Royal Botanic Garden

Founded in 1670, the Botanics are the oldest Botanic Gardens in Scotland. They are world renowned for plant research, education and conservation and they encompass four different gardens. The Tree of Heaven, a Chinese tree, was brought to Scotland by the explorer and botanist Joseph Rock in 1925. Between 1905 and 1932, plant hunter George Forrest added more than 10,000 different specimens to the collection. There's so much to see you could easily spend all day here.

Princes Street Gardens

In the 1820s the Nor Loch that separated the Old Town from the newly built New Town was drained and the gardens were developed in stages from east to west between 1830 and 1876. The Nor Loch was the site of witch trials, executions and 'dookings' and was used as a waste pit by all inhabitants. In 1846 the railway line was put in after a long court battle. The gardens were private until 1876 when the gardens were passed to the council and opened as a public park. Nowadays they're the perfect central spot to relax amid the hustle and bustle.

Dean Gardens

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Dean Gardens was founded in the late 1860s by nearby residents who wanted to improve the steep slope that was used for sheep grazing. It took over ten years to create the gardens at a cost of £1.8 million in today's money. They are the largest of four pleasure grounds bordering the Water of Leith. The layout of pathways, lawns and the pavilion are virtually unchanged from the original layout when it was first planned in the Victorian era, but the old tennis court has morphed into a children's play area. Unfortunately Dean Gardens are private but you can still see them from Dean Bridge.

Dunbar's Close Garden

Known to its admirers as 'the mushroom garden', this is a hidden gem of a garden on the Royal Mile. Tucked away on the Canongate, the entrance looks like any other Edinburgh wynd. The garden dates back to the 17th century and it follows the design of a traditional Burghal garden. It was created by Sir Patrick Geddes who lived on the Royal Mile at the time. The garden fell into disrepair in the 1970s and was saved by a bequest from The Mushroom Trust and rebuilt by landscape architect Seamus Filor. It's a suntrap of beautiful flowers and unusual plants and there are views of Calton Hill beyond.

Malleny Garden

Renowned for its peaceful atmosphere, Malleny Garden is a hidden treasure of the Edinburgh suburbs. In summer this garden is awash with summery scents, rose, lavender and philadelphus. It's a haven for plant lovers with a large variety of fragrant flowers and colourful shrubs. Standing sentinel are the 400-year-old clipped yew trees known as the Four Evangelists. There's a walled garden, Victorian greenhouses and heritage rose plantings.

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