Alpine House for world-famous alpine collection
21 September 2012
The Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh is soon to unveil some hidden gems from its world-leading collection of alpines for the first time, as a new and much larger alpine house allows plants never seen before to be put out on public display.
The existing alpine house, built in 1975, is too small to display more than a fraction of the Garden's collection, painstakingly gathered from wild specimens over the last 140 years. Now however work has begun on a new £200,000 facility, funded through grants from the Scottish government and donations from charities and individuals, which should be able to house many more of the 2,000 alpine species in the Garden's care.
Built to a modernist rhomboid design, the new Alpine House will also be the first in a botanic garden dedicated to growing in porous tufa, widening the range of plants and placing them within a 'rockscape' to mimic a natural alpine environment.
'Now we have an opportunity to show how alpine growing techniques have evolved in the last 30 years,' said the Garden's alpines supervisor John Mitchell. 'The new structure will sit next to and complement the traditional House by showcasing the latest techniques in the cultivation and care of alpines.'
The Garden hopes to use the new facilities to add a wider range of species currently known to be in decline in the wild, boosting its alpine research and conservation work and helping explore how highly sensitive alpines are reacting to the effects of global warming induced climate change.
The glasshouse, which opens in spring, is part of a wider £40 million masterplan for the Botanics updating infrastructure and creating state-of-the-art educational and research facilities.
Following the release of an initial £1.5 million from the Scottish government, the Garden has drawn up an ambitious programme. At its heart is the creation of a Scottish School of Botany and Horticulture providing formal educational facilities to Scottish colleges and universities, and a modern research centre drawing the current five research sites together into one place. New modern energy-efficient glasshouses will reduce energy use by up to 50%, while the Garden's historic Victorian glasshouses will be refurbished and restored.