Work starts on a new public Alpine House for Scotland

A new Alpine House, costing almost £200,000, at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) is set to provide visitors with an unprecedented insight into the fascinating world of Alpine plants. The building, set to open to the public next spring, is the first in a British botanic garden dedicated to growing these plants in the naturalistic surroundings of tufa.

The project – which has been realised with funding from the Scottish Government, Biffa Award, The Garfield Weston Foundation, Scottish Rock Garden Club and Alpine Garden Society, as well as donations from individuals and Trusts through a membership appeal – is a major advancement in explaining RBGE’s research and conservation work on these small, hardy plants. Alpines are particularly important to the scientific and conservation work of RBGE as they can be indicators of global warming-induced change. For 140 years the organisation has pioneered the growing of wild-collected alpines and is respected around the world for its living collection. However, severe space restrictions mean the vast majority of plants held in Edinburgh have never been on public display.

“Our existing Alpine House was built in 1975 and demonstrates the traditional way of growing plants in clay pots”, explained Alpines Supervisor John Mitchell. “Now, we have an opportunity to show how alpine growing techniques have evolved in the last 30 years.

“The new structure will sit next to and complement the traditional House by showcasing the latest techniques in the cultivation and care of alpines. The tufa will form a natural rock face for the plants to grow, rather than traditional pots, and is proven to significantly improve the quality and survivability of plant material. This will allow us to grow a wider range of species that are in decline in habitats around the world. What’s more, visitors will have year-round, free, access to an educational facility that will provide a new platform from which to raise awareness about interconnected environmental issues, such as montane habitat conservation and climate change”. 

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EDITOR’S NOTES

For more information, images and interviews, please contact Shauna Hay on 0131 248 2900, Sandra Donnelly on 0131 248 1037

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) is a leading international research organisation delivering knowledge, education and plant conservation action in more than 80 countries around the world. In Scotland its four Gardens at Edinburgh, Benmore, Dawyck and Logan attract nearly a million visitors each year. It operates as 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.” Learn more: www.rbge.org.uk

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The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a charity (registration number SC007983)