Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh seeks support to save the Palm Houses

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh needs to raise £250,000 towards completion of the Palm Houses restoration to ensure their ongoing to legacy inspire and educate.

Edinburgh Botanic Garden Palm House
credit: Ellievking1 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, commons.wikimedia

In a world where 40% of plant species are at risk of extinction, scientists and horticulturists rely on glasshouses for research to combat global biodiversity loss. The restoration of the iconic Palm Houses of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RGBE) will protect their priceless plant collection, which represent a unique and important conservation resource.

The RBGE is home to one of the world’s richest collections of living plants with more than 130,000 plants in our care, and 13,500 distinct species in cultivation built up over centuries from across the globe. These Grade A Listed Heritage buildings are instrumental in documenting the past, nurturing the present and protecting the future. They, along with the research Glasshouses, are home to 30% of our unique plant collection and enable us to protect against a loss of genetic diversity, and reduce the risk of extinction for species threatened in the wild.

Designed by Robert Matheson, the Temperate Palmhouse at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a masterpiece of Victorian architecture and engineering, with its slender cast-iron columns, curved glass roof and richly decorated arches. When it opened in 1858 the Palmhouse was the tallest structure of its kind in the UK and provided visitors with their first, and perhaps only, encounter with plants from distant places.

However, nearly 200 years have taken their toll. The stonework has crumbled, the ironwork rusted, the glasswork broken and ineffective. To save the Palm Houses the RGBE have embarked on an ambitious restoration programme, the completion for which they are currently seeking financial support.

According to the RGBE once the repairs are complete they hope to bring back exquisite species of plants, some rare and under threat in their native habitats. The Palm Houses will be opened as one space for the first time since 1871 and house a temperate rainforest (including fernery) with new pathways to lead visitors through. The new visitor experience will inspire a new generation, as well as welcome and awe those who are returning.

For all information regarding donations and raising funds for the RGBE Palm Houses restoration project can be found here.