After nearly 28 years at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE), Frieda Christie, our Microscopy Lab manager, will be retiring at the end of September.

To celebrate Frieda’s time with us, we’ve gathered some of our favourite Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) images taken by Frieda since 2003.

Firstly, a little bit about Frieda….

Frieda started at RBGE in December 1993 as a Microscopist for the newly installed SEM, within the Department of Scientific and Technical Services. As the RBGE lab facilities have developed, so has Frieda’s role. She is now the Microscopy lab manager, in charge of all the research microscopes and the new(ish) SEM that was purchased in 2003. The investment in the SEM facilities at RBGE is an acknowledgment of the importance of having these facilities in-house in a taxonomic research institute.

In addition to the many scientific publications that Frieda has produced or contributed to, you can see many of Frieda’s images around the Gardens, on the walls of the John Hope Gateway, in the laboratory corridors or in some of our beautifully illustrated books. Frieda’s artistic flare has won her many awards including 1st Prize in the ‘Science as Art’ category in the Novartis/Daily Telegraph Images in Science Competition. In 2000 Frieda was awarded full sponsorship for her ‘Microscopic Artist’ Exhibition which toured several locations including the Edinburgh and Benmore Gardens, Dundee College of Art and finished its run at the Kelvingrove Gallery in Glasgow. And in 2020 her image of Rhododendron grande was chosen for the front cover of infocus magazine of the Royal Microscopical Society.

An SEM image of Pelargonium (Geranium) pollen.

Coloured SEM image of an anatropous ovules of the Gesneriaceae Anna submontana

A SEM image of Acmopyle pancheri
An SEM image of a receptive one-ovulate cone of Acmopyle pancheri (Podocarpaceae)
Coloured seed SEM image of a member of tribe Epithemateae in subfamily Didymocarpoideae of family Gesneriaceae, showing distinctive twisted seed testa cells.
Here’s a little waving hand from Begonia luxurians
Fused anthers of Streptocarpus venosus originally magnified using a LEO Supra 55VP Scanning Electron Microscope.