Year of events planned for Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh’s 350th birthday

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) has announced a year-long programme of events to mark its 350th anniversary.

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh was founded in 1670 and moved to its current location in Inverleith in 1820. Picture: TSPL

Many events will focus on the climate crisis and global loss of biodiversity.

Highlights include an expedition to Papua New Guinea in August, as well as a Big Botanics Birthday Party in June and a Gala Concert in October.

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The four-week Papua New Guinea expedition in August will aim to discover and record new species of plants and insects and monitor biodiversity with DNA sequencing.

The RBGE will work in partnership with the New Guinea Forest Research Institute and the National Museum of Scotland on the expedition.

The Big Botanics Garden Party on Sunday 14 June will feature music, dance, food and a large birthday cake.

Dunedin Consort will perform at the Queen’s Hall for the Nature’s Voice Gala Concert on 10 October. The concert is to include Telemann’s Water Music and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.

Other events to be held throughout the year include the opening of the Garden of Tranquility in June, a new area within RBGE to provide a safe, peaceful and sensory space for visitors with dementia and their carers.

The Garden will also exhibit in the RHS Chelsea Flower Show Discovery Zone in May, showing how its work will help secure the future of the world’s plants.

In the last of the events announced, scientists will discuss the biodiversity crisis from a botanical perspective at the Halting Plant Extinction debate on 26 November.

The Botanics was founded in 1670 by two doctors, Andrew Balfour and Robert Sibbald, who established a garden near the Palace of Holyroodhouse to supply plants for medicinal purposes. In 1675 the garden moved to a larger site at Trinity Hospital, the current site of Waverley Station, before moving to Leith Walk in 1763.

It stayed there until 1820, when it was moved to its current location in Inverleith.

Regius Keeper Simon Milne MBE said: “We live in unprecedented times as we face the twin and related challenges of the climate emergency and biodiversity crisis.

“All known life depends on plants, yet one in five species is threatened with extinction. The breadth, depth and worldwide reach of the Botanics places it, and Scotland, at the forefront of efforts to further understand and conserve plants and fungi.”

Nearly 273,000 individual plants are grown at the Botanics in Edinburgh or its three satellite gardens, around 4 per cent of all known plant species.