Botanics’ Glasshouses close one by one for emergency repairs
Visitors to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) will find access to the Glasshouses restricted in the coming weeks as contractors carry out essential emergency ventilation repairs. Work has started with a rope team clearly visible on the roof and yellow barriers marking off public pathways between the Modernist Front Range and the Glasshouse Lawn. The first closure is the Arid Lands House, furthest from the historic Palm Houses at the start of the visitor experience.
The work – which will continue throughout the Public Houses and also in the Research Glasshouses, behind the scenes – has been prompted by a series of mechanical failures to the system responsible for ensuring the correct living conditions for the priceless collection of conservation plants under Glass. It highlights the need for the complete refurbishment planned as part of the Botanics’ major £70m Edinburgh Biomes project to transform the North East Corner of the site.
Since pins securing the drive arms on the Glasshouse ventilator system sheared, causing a loose arm to break glass, automatic controls have stopped and the mechanism has been operated manually by Indoor Horticulturists who look after the 34,000+ plants held between the public and research houses. Each of the 10 public houses will be closed in turn to allow replacement of the securing pins throughout the complex. The research houses – with their treasure-trove of species still awaiting official description and naming – are being repaired each evening after working hours.
The clear, dry air of the Arid Lands House transports visitors to desert regions of the world, from the Americas to Africa and Arabia. The displays in the house explore the complex ecosystems of desert life through plants that have adapted to show extraordinary tolerance of dry conditions. It is expected to reopen before the end of the week.
Regius Keeper Simon Milne MBE said: “Maintaining the integrity of our Glasshouses in order to protect our priceless plant collection is a huge challenge and my biggest concern. I fear that the next big storm will destroy vital yet failing infrastructure with catastrophic impact on one of Scotland’s greatest assets. While the team is working very hard to literally keep the roof on, the real solution lies in the Edinburgh Biomes project which will protect Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh’s unique and globally important research and conservation resource.”
Early preparation work for the Edinburgh Biomes will be noticed in the coming months when plants in beds outside Glasshouses are moved to new homes, safely away from construction works. More information can be found by visiting edinburghbiomes
For further information, images and interviews please call Shauna Hay on 0131 248 2900/07824 529 028 firstname.lastname@example.org or Sandra Donnelly on 0131 248 1037.
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is one of the world’s leading botanic gardens.
The Living Collection includes 13,500 plant species.
Scientists and horticulturists work in more than 35 countries globally from China and Nepal to Yemen, Brazil and Colombia. They describe, on average, three new plants and fungi new to science each month.
Every year, 12,000 learners benefit from its education programmes.
The four Gardens – Edinburgh, Benmore, Logan and Dawyck - attract around a million visits a year.
Every year, over 900,000 people visit the flagship Edinburgh Garden and 100,000 visit the Glasshouses, home to 3,000 exotic, rare and threatened plants from around the world.
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh generates £52 million a year for the Scottish economy and has a global international economic impact of £103 million a year.
Celebrating its 350th anniversary in 2020, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh has been discovering, collecting and caring for plants since 1670.
The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) is a leading international research organisation delivering knowledge, education and plant conservation action in more than 35 countries around the world. In Scotland its four Gardens at Edinburgh, Benmore, Dawyck and Logan attract around 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 “To explore, conserve and explain the world of plants for a better future”.
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