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Ms Jean Imrie (1950)

I grew up in the Comely Bank area, thus Inverleith Park and the Botanics were and are an important part of my life. My association with the RGBE started in early 1950 when my mother pushed me in my pram through the entrance to the garden which is now the John Hope Gateway Visitor Centre. In those days I believe she needed a pram permit and certainly we had to keep to the paths. There was a small hut just inside the entrance where a couple of botanics ‘parkies’ were always on duty. One of them I seem to remember was a Mr Snoddie who lived in a cottage to the right of the entrance. In my early years there were often outings to the Botanics and as I grew older I spent many hours there taking great delight in feeding the birds and squirrels which would take the food from my hand. As an adolescent I adored David Attenburgh and went to see him at the Usher Hall. Determined to follow in his footsteps I took my Brownie 44a to the Botanics and quickly used up a roll of film snapping the birdlife. Sadly my hopes were dashed when I picked up the photos from the chemist at the corner of Comely Bank St. The small prints (3inches square?) were blank apart from a few wee dark dots – those were the birds! A hard lesson to learn about the differences between my camera and professional ones with amazing lenses. When my children were small they too were brought to the Botanics though they were allowed much more freedom to roam amongst the flowers, shrubs and trees. I left Edinburgh in 1984 and moved to Canberra, Australia’s capital, where I was fortunate enough to have the Australian National Botanic Gardens nearby. Living in that region brought a whole new range of flora and fauna for me. Fortunately my partner’s father and stepmother are very knowledgeable and helped us with what to grow and how to propagate the local indigenous plants on our 30 acres. We also had assistance from Landcare Australia which funded half the cost of the many trees and shrubs we planted, helped by volunteers. Regenerating our bush block over nearly 28 years was really rewarding and it’s good to see that there are many people here involved in ‘rewilding’. After returning to Edinburgh in 2016 I resumed my RBGE visits. Now retired and with a bit more time to spare I joined the Friends of the Gardens and am now on its committee. Currently I am enjoying developing my garden in Joppa though I have had to acquaint myself with what will grow here in Edinburgh.

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