The present Heath Garden was planted in 1997 to replace a heather garden that was first established in 1935. The new garden was designed to contain native plants to create a natural haven for wildlife in a realistic Scottish countryside setting. A lochan was created using a rubber liner and peat blocks were used to create a more natural looking effect. A simulated abandoned croft was built utilising some recycled material from the old heather garden.
Plants were obtained from a variety of sources and several of the large trees and shrubs were kept from the previous design, even though they were not native. This is often the case in old botanical gardens and in this situation they were kept because they were of botanical importance and gave structure to the new design.
The Scottish Heath Garden has mass plantings of upland plants that are commonly found growing together in the Scottish hills such as Calluna vulgaris, Betula pendula and B. pubescens, Pinus sylvestris, Ulex europaeus, Juniperus communis, Vaccinium vitis-idea, V. myrtillus, Alnus glutinosa and Sorbus species.
More recently, additional species have been added: Drosera rotundifolia grows in the damp sphagnum moss of peat bogs and so it has also been planted at the edge of the lochan where Potamogeton polygonifolius rafts out across the water. In drier areas in the wild, Listera cordata frequently grows under Calluna vulgaris and to replicate this it is now growing on a heathery bank in the Heath Garden. With the creation of the right habitat, the scene is now set for the addition of less common species such as Pyrola media, a declining species.
As a direct contribution to science, some of the plants in the Scottish Heath Garden are being used in a Garden-wide Phenology study that records the date and month when each plant flowers and sets seed.
Other garden features include....
- Chinese Hillside
- Ecological & Cryptogamic Garden
- Glasshouse Borders
- Herbaceous Border
- Peat Walls
- Queen Mother's Memorial Garden
- Rock Garden
- Woodland Garden