The Botanic Garden of the University of Dundee is one of the city’s major attractions, welcoming more than 80,000 visitors each year, writes Garry Fraser in The Scots Magazine.
South-facing and situated in the West End of the city, you can enjoy a pleasant wander amongst acres of beautiful conifers, trees and shrubs.
“The garden hosts a first-class collection of trees from all around the world,” says the garden’s education officer Doctor Neil Paterson.
“Giant redwoods, coastal redwoods and Australian eucalyptus trees, complete with their aromatic smell.
“We even have our own version of the Scots pine-dominated Great Caledonian Forest plus monkey puzzles from seeds collected in Chile.
“Traditionally, botanic gardens weren’t interested in native species, but we bucked the trend by concentrating on them from the start. However, species from around the world were also included so both grew together.”
The trees form an integral part of the garden’s round-the-world tour, where you can move from the Mediterranean area to the Australian and New Zealand section via America and Asia.
“My favourite part is our uniquely large native plants area which features eight Tayside habitats,” continues Neil.
“You can walk from the glens to the sea taking in heathland, oakwood, the Great Caledonian Forest, nutrient-rich lochs and sand dunes.
“The huge glasshouse that stands prominently at the entrance to the garden is a tour all to itself, dominated by the contrasting tropical rainforest – mahogany, ebony, teak and the plants that climb on or live on trees – and plants that thrive in hot desert habitats.
These include cacti from America and euphorbias from Africa. The Glasshouse pond features the Giant Victoria Water Lily.
“Throughout the garden and glasshouses there is a Plants for People Trail which highlights plants that humans have used for everything from food, construction and medicine to sewage treatment,” adds Neil.
Plans for a botanic garden in Dundee were first suggested in 1906 by Patrick Geddes, professor of botany at University College, Dundee, but never followed up.
Further plans in the 1960s were dismissed down to cost and it wasn’t until the college became a university that Geddes’ dreams became reality.
Education is paramount and it offers programmes for schools from nursery to senior pupils and courses on botany in the university’s adult curriculum.
The garden’s gentle slope and south-facing vista is favoured by a fertile but well-drained soil.
It enjoys a micro-climate thanks to screening from wind, so the plants and trees thrive. It’s a haven for wildlife especially of the feathered variety.
Blackbird, goldcrest, moorhen, siskin, blue tit and grey heron are all regular visitors to the garden The garden is in close proximity to a number of bus services from Dundee city centre and is well worth a visit.
For more information go to www.dundee.ac.uk/botanic
This article originally appeared in The Scots Magazine’s nine-page Focus On Dundee. For the full feature pick up The Scots Magazine October issue – out now.