Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Alpine House opens

by Drucilla James

A new Alpine House containing a spectacular living wall has opened to the public at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

The building, which cost almost £200,000, is intended to showcase the modern technique of growing alpine plants in the naturalistic setting of tufa.

“Our existing Alpine House was built in 1975 and demonstrates the traditional way of growing plants in clay pots”, said Alpines Supervisor John Mitchell. “Now, we have an opportunity to show how alpine growing techniques have evolved in the last 30 years.

alpine_house2“The tufa forms a natural rock face for the plants to grow in, rather than traditional pots, and is proven to significantly improve the quality and survivability of plant material. This will allow us to grow a wider range of species that are in decline in habitats around the world,” he added.

For 140 years the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh has pioneered the growing of wild-collected alpines but space restrictions have meant the vast majority of the garden’s collection has never before been on public display.

Alpines are particularly important to the scientific and conservation work of the RBGE as they can be indicators of global warming-induced change.

The tufa used in the new alpine house has been recycled from a road building project in Southern Germany, with plants being inserted into bore holes drilled into the soft rock. The living wall is intended to develop over time as more specimens are added and become established.

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