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Spring has sprung in style at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) where visitor figures are up and plans are being finalised for an ambitious season of events, in the face of ongoing recovery operations resulting from January’s devastating storm damage.
New figures confirm the Garden’s total number of visits for 2011 exceeded 790,000, representing an almost 12 percent uplift on the previous year - and the highest total this century. It is the second consecutive increase in numbers since the opening of the John Hope Gateway visitor centre at the West Gate. Now, the Garden is a hive of activity in preparation for more high-profile events including the premiere of Hard Rain: Whole Earth?, the much anticipated follow-up to Mark Edwards’ acclaimed and thought-provoking outdoor photographic commentary – inspired by the lyrics of the Bob Dylan classic - on man’s impact on the planet.
Following hot on the heels of Hard Rain will come a galaxy gathering of celebrity chefs and other experts to serve up creative and cultural Science on a Plate delights during Edinburgh International Science Festival in late March and early April. The summer blockbuster exhibition will be 2020 Vision, a nature photography project bringing together, for the first time, 20 of the UK’s top nature and wildlife photographers.
Other high-profile initiatives at the Garden, meanwhile, include plans for a new Alpine House to showcase some of the colourful botanical gems currently hidden behind public access points. Discussions continue, too, into the case for replacing RBGE’s dated Research Glasshouses which were so badly damaged in the January gales.
Regius Keeper Professor Stephen Blackmore said the Garden’s recovery from the storm damage and ongoing commitment to improve its visitor offer were testimony to the tenacity of the organisation as a whole: “This is particularly good news for us at this time. Apart from a couple of exceptions in the 1990s, annual visitor figures have not attained this height for some 40-plus years. Our ongoing commitment to improving the visitor offer must surely be seen as a significant factor in the general trend”.
Head of Visitor Communications, Alan Bennell added: “It is hugely rewarding to welcome so many faces – old and new – to the Botanics. As the 2012 season advances, and on the back of our exciting programme, we look forward to pushing beyond the 800,000 visitor mark this year”.
For more information, images or interviews contact Shauna Hay on 0131 248 2900 or Sandra Donnelly on 0131 248 1037
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE), dating back to1670, is a Non Departmental Public Body established under the National Heritage (Scotland) Act 1985, principally funded by the Scottish Government. It is also a registered charity, managed by a Board of Trustees appointed by Ministers. Its mission is “exploring and explaining the world of plants for a better future” and its primary functions are as a centre of scientific and horticultural excellence, keeper of the national collections and promoter of science in the public domain.
The four Gardens of RBGE - Edinburgh, Benmore, Dawyck and Logan - are numbered among the most popular visitor attractions in Scotland, bringing together many inter-related cultural areas of activity.