Sunday 13 May 2007

Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh

These well-maintained and scientifically-significant gardens, just one mile north of the centre of Edinburgh, shelter a broad collection of plants from across the world, both in the open air and a series of glasshouses. While the tallest of these glasshouses, an elegant and intricate building constructed in the mid-19th century housing palm trees, is free to enter, an adult ticket for the others costs a reasonable £3.50. Those without green fingers or an avid interest in botany might prefer to stroll down the evocative Chinese Hillside, in which little streams flow under ornate bridges flanked by a bewildering display of exotic plants against a backdrop of Edinburgh Castle, church spires and Georgian rooftops. Save time for a visit to the recently-refurbished cafe, where the self-service menu includes good-value and hearty chicken pies, topped with cheese, for lunch and rich caramel slices for tea. 7/10