"Now more than ever, I think we need to pull out all the stops in terms of conservation – and it is wonderful that my legacy would help towards that."
From the construction of the Botanic Cottage and our Alpine Glasshouse, to the protection of conifer species around the world, legacy gifts have offered invaluable support to key projects across our Gardens and the wider world of plants.
Find out more below about how legacy giving has transformed our work, and hear from some of our supporters on why they have chosen to remember the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in their Will.
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If you have any questions about leaving a gift in your Will, or if you would like to speak to someone in confidence about legacy giving, please contact us on 0131 248 2987 or at email@example.com.CONTACT US
Our Legacy Stories
- Catherine Olver
These are the passionate words of Martin Gardner, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh's expert in the flora of Chile:
Globally, a number of conifer species are threatened with extinction. Threats to their native habitats include logging, uncontrolled forest fires, open-cast mining, and conversion of forests to pasture and arable land. The International Conifer Conservation Programme (ICCP), established in 1991, aims to protect these threatened species and their habitats through research, horticulture and training in the UK and abroad.
Catherine Olver was a well-known dendrologist and founder of the Reading Tree Club. Her knowledge and enthusiasm for trees was unsurpassed and, having travelled to Chile, she became very interested in the flora and its conservation. Thanks to the generous legacy she left the project in 2004, the ICCP has been able to establish an endowment dedicated to the conservation of Chilean plants and training programmes for Chilean students. Catherine's financial contribution ensures that her passion for conservation continues to make a positive impact today.
Funding from this gift has enabled Carlos Zamorano to travel to the institute ECOSUR, Chiapas, Mexico, in order to study for a Masters Degree in Natural Resources and Rural Development. This course will enable him to develop projects in Chile working with poorer landowners in order to help them manage their forests in a sustainable way. He is currently doing his Masters project on the conservation of threatened Chilean monkey puzzle trees and the indigenous people who depend on these forest habitats.
- Margaret Stevenson
In July 2020 the Stevenson family - David, Alison, Andrew, Patrick, Ellen and Paul - met at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh to celebrate and remember the late Margaret Stevenson’s life and the great contribution she made to the organisation over many years.
Margaret became a Garden Guide in 2006, and served on the Edinburgh Friends' Committee for many years, helping to raise funds at coffee mornings, plant crèches at Gardening Scotland, and the annual Plant Sale. Indeed, she was one of the dedicated 'potters' who met regularly in the Nursery throughout the year to nurture the plants in preparation for the Sale. Margaret was very much a plants woman, and she happily shared her enthusiasm for and knowledge of plants with her fellow potters and with the many visitors to our Garden she met as a Guide.
In the words of John Mitchell, Alpine, Rock and Woodland Garden Supervisor:
“With Margaret's passing the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh has lost a valued friend and colleague. We are fortunate to have had the benefit of her experience and knowledge over many years where she effectively explored and explained the plant collection here in Edinburgh”.
Margaret's family wanted to arrange for a legacy in her name, and in collaboration with Garden staff developed and funded a New Alpine Glasshouse in the Alpine Yard which will specialise in cushion plants. There is also a bench in her memory in the upper woodland garden within the Rhododendron collection.
Both projects honour Margaret’s legacy and fittingly commemorate her love for the garden and how much she gave to it over many years. The family’s gift offers valuable support to the Botanics and gives friends, guides, volunteers and staff the opportunity to admire and to care for our world-leading Alpine flower collection.
The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is extremely grateful to the Stevenson family for their generous support and will ensure Margaret’s legacy continues to fulfil our mission statement to explore, conserve and explain the world of plants for a better future.
- Mary Robertson
Born in rural Yorkshire in 1921, Mary started life as a farm girl and trained as a school teacher. She met her husband, Scott, in 1942 and they settled in Edinburgh, where her love for the countryside, plants and wildlife grew.
Once she retired she and Scott travelled widely, with Mary filling her notebooks with observations on the plants she found. Her enthusiasm for plants is carried on by friends and family alike.
In this interview, Mary’s daughters, Jane Robertson Vernhes and Lesley Still, reflect on their mother’s love for, and gift to, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.
What was your mother’s connection to the Garden?
Our mother’s love of nature and plants started with her childhood in the Yorkshire countryside. When she and our father settled in Edinburgh, the Royal Botanic Garden became a favourite place for her to visit, to refresh her knowledge of botany and improve her new interest in gardening.
Encouraged by a friend, she became a ranger at Hopetoun House and undertook research work on the gardens there, much influenced by Sir John Hope, the first curator of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. She would occasionally consult staff from the Garden to help identify plants from Hopetoun and elsewhere.
In 2010 she created the Mary Robertson Grant for Botanical Research and became a Friend and Patron of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. She left money to the Garden in her Will, and her donation helped finalise the construction of the Botanic Cottage.
What memories of Mary’s time at the Garden stand out to you?
Her 90th birthday celebrations at the John Hope Gateway in 2011 was a particular favourite. With typical generosity, she invited 45 friends, neighbours and family members to lunch in a setting that allowed us to share her love of, and interest in, the Garden.
What did she value most about the work of the Garden?
She was most impressed by the research work to better understand the botany and ecology of Scotland’s native plants and to ensure their conservation. As a teacher herself, she also valued the commitment to education for everyone – from school children to senior citizens – with hope that learning would become increasingly accessible and inclusive for the whole community.
How do you feel about your mother’s legacy gift to the Garden?
Wonderful! We were delighted for Mum’s legacy to be used in the construction of the Botanic Cottage, as it is a long-lasting testimony to her generosity and commitment to the work of the Garden. We considered it highly appropriate, given our mother’s background as a primary school teacher, her interest in teaching children of all backgrounds about nature, and of course, the link with Hopetoun House, where she had spent many happy years.
- Dmitri Ross
Dmitri Ross is a retired solicitor who lives in Edinburgh. In this interview Dmitri shares his love of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, and why he decided to pledge a gift in his Will.
Do you remember your first visit to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh? Can you share some of your favourite memories of your time here?
I must have visited the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh when I was a child, but I started to visit regularly while at the University of Edinburgh, some 36 years ago.
I have many happy memories of the Garden. I used to go there with my first boyfriend when I needed time off from studying and the stress of exams. I also visited with my little brother, who died of a brain tumour in 2005. I still have a picture he took of me lying on the fossilised tree near the glasshouses. He captioned it ‘old fossil’! More recently, my husband and I have visited three times a week as part of our regular walks.
I often feel that I have my own piece of the Garden with me at home when I look at the many pots, plants and water features I have bought from the Botanics Shop.
Why did you decide to pledge a legacy?
I have a great and enduring love of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, and I am well aware of the importance of legacies towards the work of preserving it, funding ongoing development work, and paying the staff who take so much care in looking after the Garden.
I want others to enjoy the same peace and contentment as I have over the years, and this is one practical way I can do this and ‘give back’ to the community.
Do you have any advice for someone who may be thinking about remembering the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in their Will?
Yes – just make the effort and do so without delay. These things always get put off, and who knows what is around the corner. Leaving a legacy has reinforced and enhanced my love of the Garden and I feel more connected to and interested in what is happening there.
- A Friend of our Edinburgh Garden
In this interview, a former East Lothian resident shares her memories of the Garden, why she has decided to pledge a legacy, and her hopes for the future.
What memories do you associate with the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh?
The earliest days are very much associated with memories of my late father, George, who worked at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in the last few years of a long career in horticulture. After the Second World War, there was a lot of retraining for people – and being a quiet, nature-loving man, that was the area of interest he went into. This experience brought him many years of satisfaction, friendships, and connections that made the last part of his career a joy. He loved working with students and colleagues in all the different departments; these interactions gave him an opportunity to both evolve his own learning and pass on some of his experience from his early days in gardening.
When I became a student in Edinburgh, I used to love going down to sit and draw in the Glasshouses. Later I attended a Botanical Illustration Summer School, which was another great experience and insight into the behind-the-scenes work that is so important for Edinburgh. Apart from the fantastic art tuition, it was just wonderful to look back in time at the Herbarium’s files of the old plant collectors and learn how these records were put together. I think that connection between art and nature is one that lives with me to this day. I still dabble in art myself and it is always natural things that I end up painting or drawing.
Why did you decide to pledge a legacy?
My family have now left Scotland and we are scattered all over the world, so I think it is lovely to give a little something back to a place that meant so much to our family. The Garden’s work in educating the broadest range of people – whether it be in practical skills or scientific research – is so important. Now more than ever, I think we need to pull out all the stops in terms of conservation – and it is wonderful that my legacy would help towards that.
Is there any advice you would give to someone who may want to remember the Garden in their Will?
I am drawn to the sentiment: ‘The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.’ To contribute to something that you may not feel, or see, or live through the impacts of – but will do some good in the future – I think, is enough.
What hopes do you have for the Garden’s future?
The Garden should continue to be an open, special place for people to spend time in whatever way they wish.