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

Apple Day

Sun 2 October, 12:00 – 17:00 (drop-in) | all ages | Botanic Cottage | free

Join us to celebrate apples this autumn, with displays of Scottish apples, opportunities to taste unusual varieties and a chance to get your unknown apples identified.

Step inside the Botanic Cottage

Fri 7 October, 15:00 – 15:45 (drop-in) | Botanic Cottage | free

Join a public tour of the Botanic Cottage and discover how it was saved and rebuilt.

Garden Social for Dementia: Our Garden Heritage

Fri 7 October, 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

Gardens for Communities

Wed 26 October, 11:00 – 12:30 | Botanic Cottage | pre-book at www.thebotanics.eventbrite.co.uk | free

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh was set up in 1670 to transform the health and wellbeing of its local community. Join us for talks and discussions around the value of gardens to communities, and their role in improving people’s lives.

From Leith to Kathmandu: 200 Years of Exploring in Nepal’s Natural History

Fri 28 October, 11:00 | age 16+ | Botanic Cottage | pre-book at www.thebotanics.eventbrite.co.uk | free

In the same room where Buchannan-Hamilton was taught botany during the Scottish Enlightenment, join Dr Mark Watson as he reveals the story of a remarkable man who travelled the world and became an eminent botanist.

Open Book – Reading Together

Every Thu , 10:30 – 12:00 (drop-in) | ages 14+  |free

If you love reading come to a book group with a difference, where stories and poems are read aloud and discussed over tea and coffee. Led by the charity Open Book.

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