Tam's Tall Tales

- People With Glass Houses Will Have to Stump Up


Palm House, Edinburgh Botanic gardens




People With Glass Houses Will Have to Stump Up


I had better declare an interest as someone who has enjoyed many a walk around Edinburgh's Botanic Gardens over the years.

The 28 acre site, officially known as Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) is beautifully maintained and usually has some improvement to add even more appeal.

It is no surprise that the 19th century glasshouses need attention, but the fact that the bill is expected to come to 40 million is shattering news. Scotland's population is only about 5.3 million.

Simon Milne, regius keeper of the RBGE, said: "We have been very careful to exclude people from the glasshouses at times of high winds. The times we have had to do this have been increasing in frequency because of the number of storms there have been. We are having to be very cautious because we do not want anyone to be hurt."

An official report praises how the RBGE is run but says that one key issue identified as of "mission critical importance" is the maintenance of the core collection. This would involve making sure that the ageing glasshouses are either replaced or restored to make them safe and to make them meet modern energy efficiency standards,

In total there are about 8,000 square meters of glass - larger than a football pitch. In addition to the 19th century glass houses, there are some dating from the 1960s.

Mr Milne said that the scientific institute was holding discussions with the Scottish government about funding but it would have to raise much of the 40 million itself.
"So we need to increase our own fundraising through sponsorship, commercial activities and an appeal to the public," Mr Milne said. "Otherwise we will have to continue patching up the glasshouses and there will be an increase in the times that the glasshouses have to be closed to the public."

It is too early to say how the 40 million appeal will go down with the public but I can see problems ahead. Hopefully not too many will be as bitter as the anonymous person who contributed the following to the local evening paper. Hopefully, it may have been a "tongue in cheek" reference to what happens every year to Princes Street Gardens at the Festive season (apart from the 25 entrance fee):

The easiest way to find the 40 million needed would be to install a massive Ferris wheel right in the middle and convert the entire Royal Botanic Gardens into a huge Scottish style Disneyland with a couple of German market stalls thrown in for good measure. Tourists could then take a tram straight from the airport right into the gardens and saviour some al fresco, cafe cultured dining within the shelter of one of the greenhouses that isn't going to collapse and decapitate those sipping away at their cappuccinos and enjoying their goats cheese, sun dried tomato and Parma ham paninis. An ice rink would be a must, along with a couple of roller coasters, with the music turned up to 11 on the amps, all day, every day. And a bargain at only 25 to get in.

Please give me whatever feedback comes to mind via tamfromrampant@gmail.com.

Tam O'Ranter
March 2016

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