Historic milestone: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh marks 350 years
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- 24 January 2020
Regius Keeper Simon Milne with colleagues at the 350th anniversary launch
As it celebrates its 350th birthday, the RBGE unveils a year-long programme of events
The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is marking its 350th anniversary by undertaking a year-long programme of events and activities to celebrate its historic collections, its national and international achievements and to highlight the growing need to protect the world's plants.
The Garden has just revealed a packed programme of events for 2020, from a research expedition to Papua New Guinea to a big birthday party for the public in June.
The story began in 1670 when two intrepid doctors, Andrew Balfour and Robert Sibbald, established a physic garden near the Palace of Holyroodhouse to study and supply plants for medicinal purposes. The Garden prospered and, in 1675, moved to a larger site at Trinity Hospital, where Waverley Station now stands.
In 1763, under the leadership of John Hope and with an endowment from the Crown and Royal status, the Garden moved from the Old Town to Leith Walk. It remained there until 1820, when the Garden began the move to its current site in Inverleith.
Today, the Botanics is one of the world's leading botanic gardens. It has many faces: a beautifully landscaped Garden growing rare and exotic species; an internationally renowned scientific institution; a popular visitor attraction for Edinburgh residents and tourists; and a centre for historically important archive materials.
The Botanics works in partnership with more than 35 countries on research and horticulture projects and its scientists discover and describe an average of one plant species new to science every week. Each year, its four Gardens in Scotland – Edinburgh, Benmore, Dawyck and Logan – attract over one million visitors and its education programmes reach 12,000 students around the globe.
The global challenges of the climate crisis and biodiversity loss will provide the focus of the organisation's effort for years to come.
RBGE's 350th birthday highlights
Big Botanics Birthday Party
Visitors will be invited to celebrate the Garden's 350th at a special birthday party. With a focus on its global influence, the Botanics will create a world festival featuring music, dance, food and a birthday cake. Celebrations will also take place at the Regional Gardens of Benmore, Logan and Dawyck during the summer months. Sun 14 Jun.
Garden of Tranquillity opening
A new area will open at the Botanics that will provide a safe, peaceful and sensory space for visitors living with dementia and their carers. Jun.
Artists Residencies, Inverleith House
Over the course of a year, three artists – Christine Borland, Karine Polwart and Pippa Murphy – will produce artworks inspired by the Garden's rich archive and historic collections. Jul.
Expedition to Papua New Guinea
The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh will undertake a four-week research expedition to Papua New Guinea. In collaboration with the Papua New Guinea Forest Research Institute and the National Museum of Scotland, the expedition will set out to discover and record new species of plants and insects, and monitor biodiversity by using next generation DNA sequencing. Aug.
Nature's Voice Gala Concert
The Botanics will collaborate with Dunedin Consort to perform music that celebrates nature, from Telemann's Water Music to Vivaldi's Four Seasons, at a concert at the Queen's Hall, Edinburgh. Tickets are on sale now at rbge.org.uk/concert and 0131 668 2019. Sat 10 Oct.
Christmas at the Botanics
The annual Christmas light trail promises to be even more enchanting than ever during the Garden's 350th year. From Fri 20 Nov.
Halting Plant Extinction debate
Leading scientists will explore the biodiversity crisis from a botanical perspective in collaboration with the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Thu 26 Nov.
For more info, visit rbge.org.uk/350
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Sat 10 Oct
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