Building for Nature

Buildings have been important to gardens for thousands of years – from the humble wooden shed for potting to magnificent glass palaces in which to grow plants from across the globe.

The Temperate Palm House

At the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh we have a remarkable range of buildings spanning four centuries, and designed by some of the greatest architects of their eras. They were built and adapted to serve both the people and the plants of the Garden, and to help fulfil our objective of exploring, conserving and explaining the world of plants, for a better future.

Although the buildings have been numbered in this trail, you can explore them in any order. You might choose only to look at the exteriors, or, for those which have public access, you might wish to head inside and discover what lies within.

  • Inverleith House
  • Caledonian Hall
  • East Gate Lodge
  • The Herbarium
  • The Linnaeus Monument
  • Main Glasshouse Range
  • The Temperate Palm House
  • The Botanic Cottage
  • The John Hope Gateway


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Inverleith House

Inverleith House was designed by David Henderson in 1773 and built the following year. It stood at the heart of Sir James Rocheid’s estate, which comprised not only...
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Caledonian Hall

Built by the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society when this part of the Garden was under their care, the Caledonian Hall is a beautiful example of a Victorian exhibition...
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East Gate Lodge

William Henry Playfair was responsible for some of Edinburgh’s grandest buildings, including the Royal Scottish Academy and the National Gallery of Scotland, but the East Gate Lodge is...
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The Herbarium

Officially opened by HM The Queen in 1964, the Herbarium and Library was built to house the collection of three million preserved plant specimens held by the Royal...
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The Linnaeus Monument

This handsome monument honours the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, who popularised a system of sexual classification of plants in the 18th century. It originally stood in the previous...
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Main Glasshouse Range

When built in 1967 the 128 metre long main glasshouse range was regarded as the greatest innovation in glasshouse design in a century. The then Curator of the...
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The Temperate Palm House

Completed in 1858, the Temperate Palm House is the tallest traditional Palm House in Britain, with a height of 21.95 metres. Designed by Robert Matheson, the glasshouse cost...
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The Botanic Cottage

Designed by two of the most renowned’ architects of the 18th century – John Adam (brother of Robert) and James Craig (designer of Edinburgh’s New Town plan) –...
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The John Hope Gateway

Named after one of the most visionary leaders in the history of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, the John Hope Gateway is one of the best visitor welcome...