The Botanic Cottage

The Botanic Cottage is simultaneously the newest and oldest building in the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. It is an inspirational hub for community and education activities.

The Botanic Cottage originally stood at the entrance to a long lost incarnation of the Botanics, across the city on Leith Walk. It was built in 1764-5, and designed by the renowned architects John Adam and James Craig. Not only was it the home of the principal gardener, it was also the main entrance to the Garden, and contained a classroom where every medical student was taught botany during the height of the Scottish Enlightenment. After the Garden moved to Inverleith in the early 1820s, the cottage became a private home, then later offices and a van rental shop. Over the years the street level was raised in front of it, the lime render on its exterior was lost, and by the mid-2000s it had been abandomed and set on fire. Fortunately, a community campaign, working with the Botanics, saved the cottage. It was moved stone by stone across Edinburgh, and rebuilt in our Demonstration Garden, where schools, students and community groups have plots. It was rebuilt with all of the stones and timbers going back in the correct places, and finished so that it looks as good as it did 250 years ago.  

The Botanic Cottage now hosts a wide variety of education and community sessions, as well as public events, throughout the year.

The cottage is primarily used for pre-booked groups, but on selected dates each month we put on events which can be enjoyed by the wider public - check our 'What's On' listings for details.

How can I use the Botanic Cottage?

In addition to the many programmes run by the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, the Botanic Cottage can also be booked by external organisations for non-commercial activities which have a focus on learning and engagement. We do not charge for use of the building, and in return, any activities run by external organisations must be free or donation-only for people to attend. If you are interested in using the Botanic Cottage, please e-mail community@rbge.org.uk and we can provide more information. Please provide a contact name and telephone number and some information about your organisation.

Upcoming public events

Garden Social for Dementia: A Time for Thanksgiving

Fri 4 November, 10:30 – 12:30 age 16+| Botanic Cottage | no booking required for individuals/pairs, but for groups of more than two please contact community@rbge.org.uk or leave a message on 0131 248 2981 | free

Free sessions with refreshments and activities inspired by the Garden for people affected by dementia.

Meet the poet: A Reading Together Special

Thu 10 November, 10:30 – 12:30 | Botanic Cottage | pre-book at www.thebotanics.eventbrite.co.uk | free

Join us for a special session of the Botanics’ book group, which will feature readings and discussions with poet Claire Askew.

Creative Writing: A Reading Together Special

Thu 24 November, 10:30 – 12:30 (drop-in) | Botanic Cottage | pre-book at www.thebotanics.eventbrite.co.uk | free

Join us for a special session of the Botanics’ book group, which will include the usual mix of reading and chat, as well as a creative writing workshop. Part of Book Week Scotland.

The Cleghorn Connection

25 November 11:00 – 11:45 | Botanic Cottage | pre-book at www.thebotanics.eventbrite.co.uk | free

Discover the story behind the stunning collection of Indian botanical illustrations collected by Hugh Cleghorn, in a fascinating talk by Dr. Henry Noltie.

 

Garden Social for Dementia: A Christmas Celebration

Fri 2 December, 10:30 – 12:30 | age 16+ | Botanic Cottage | no booking required for individuals/pairs, but for groups of more than two please contact community@rbge.org.uk or leave a message on 0131 248 2981 | free

Free sessions with refreshments and activities inspired by the Garden for people affected by dementia.

Scotland’s Bread

Sun 4 December, 12:00 – 15:00 (drop-in) | all ages | Botanic Cottage | free

Discover more about the story of bread with the Edible Gardening Project and Andrew Whitley, author of Bread Matters. Find out about growing wheat, milling flour, making dough, proving and baking at our drop-in session. Try some tasty home-baked sourdough made with Botanics-grown wheat at our family friendly afternoon.

Carols at the Cottage

Tue 6 December, 17:30 and 19:00 | all ages | Botanic Cottage | suggested donation £3

| pre-book at www.thebotanics.eventbrite.co.uk

On a cold winter’s night, be filled with festive cheer as you enjoy a glass of mulled wine, hot mince pies and sing carols in the Botanic Cottage.

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