Edinburgh is a city that isn't entirely short on green space, with areas like Holyrood Park, the Meadows and Princes Street Gardens providing valuable parkland for locals and visitors to enjoy.
But as well as these, and plenty of smaller local park spaces across the Old and New Towns - in part an innovation of Patrick Geddes, a nineteenth century planner and heritage figure who championed the creation of public green spaces in overcrowded cities - is the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE), an expanse of space which offers the opportunity to get lost amongst trees and plants and reconnect with nature.
The gardens themselves were initially created in 1670 as part of Holyrood Park itself, adjacent to the royal palace (hence its royal connections). Just a few years later the gardens had grown and were moved to a new site in the valley where Waverley railway station is today - a plaque inside the station commemorates that the gardens were on this site for a time, before being moved again to the bottom of Leith Walk a century later, in the 1760s. Shortly after, in the 1820s, the garden was moved again - uprooted and replanted - to its current location at Inverleith, at the bottom of the New Town and providing views across towards the city skyline.
There are two entrances into 'the botanics', as they're known - the west gate has a modern complex housing a cafe, giftshop and (yes!) a garden centre, for visitors to purchase their own plants and botanical-themed gifts. The east gate is marked with a huge stainless steel gateway cast in the shape of hundreds of flowers.
The gardens themselves are laid out over 70 acres, with ponds, lawns, and themed garden spaces made up of more them 13,000 species of plants. Each specimen is noted and identified with labels, and information panels throughout the space highlight particular features or specific plants and trees of scientific or cultural interest.
This field elm, for example, is one of only four known trees of this species in the entire world - and Edinburgh has three of them!
As well as valuable collections of rare and special plants, the gardens include a glasshouse of tropical and temperate plants species, and collections of national plants from China and Japan, you can feel small as you stand beneath towering sequoias or just relax beside babbling water features that cascade through rocky alpine landscapes.
In the botanics it's very easy to forget you're in the heart of a major capital city - yet it's only a short walk or a bus ride away!
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