The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 4: British Gardens (1100-1830)

History of Edinburgh Botanic Garden

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644. The botanic garden of Edinburgh (fig. 205.) occupies sixteen acres, and includes extensive hothouses and other desiderata in a superior style. The original garden took its rise about the year 1680, from the following circumstances: - 'Patrick Murray, baron of Livingston, a pupil of Dr. (afterwards Sir Andrew) Balfour, in natural history, formed a collection of 1000 plants at Livingston; but soon afterwards dying abroad, Dr. Balfour had his collection transferred to Edinburgh, and there, uniting it with his own, founded the botanic garden. It had no fixed support for some time; but at length the city of Edinburgh allotted a piece of ground near the College church, for a public garden, and appointed a salary for its support out of the revenues of the University.' (Walker's Essays, 358.) The garden appears to have increased rapidly; for in 1683 James Sutherland, the intendant, published a catalogue of the plants in the garden, entitled Hortus Medicus Edinburgensis, which contained the names of upwards of 3000 plants. In 1767, the garden was removed to a more eligible situation, considerably enlarged, and a very magnificent range of hothouses erected under the direction of Dr. John Hope, who first taught the Linn�an system in Scotland. This garden, in general arrangement, and in the order in which it was kept till its destruction in 1822, was inferior to none in Britain, though at Kew and Liverpool the collection of plants was necessarily much greater. The collection in 1812 amounted to upwards of 4000 species, among which were some rare acclimatised exotic trees, which had attained a great size. This garden was again removed, in 1822, to its present situation; and in 1833 the sum of 8000�. was voted by parliament to improve the Caledonian Society's Garden, and an annual sum was granted for keeping up the botanic garden.