THE Royal Botanic Garden is to replace its ageing glasshouses and offer more public access to its research after winning a £1.5 million funding boost.
Work is expected to start within the next year to replace the propagation glasshouses in the nursery on the north side of Inverleith Place.
The Scottish Government cash will contribute towards a £35m project which includes replacing or upgrading all of the Botanics’ glasshouses and building a school of horticulture and botany.
Research glasshouses will also eventually be opened to visitors as part of the plans.
Dr David Rae, director of horticulture, said the scheme was brought forward because 600 panels of glass had to be replaced after being shattered during 100mph winds which lashed the site in January.
The Botanics was left facing a restoration bill of more than £1m after galeforce winds wreaked havoc, causing the most destruction seen by the garden in the last 30 years.
A total of 35 trees was uprooted or destroyed by the winds. Some of those were well-established and up to 125 years old. A further 40 were significantly damaged.
Dr Rae, who said the Botanics was “deeply grateful” for the government funding, explained: “We have been making the case for four or five years that the glasshouses were reaching their sell-by date and required to be replaced. When we lost 600 panes, it really reinforced that point.
“The £1.5 million will allow us to do the detailed planning and start the project, which is brilliant news because even a small step in the right direction is an important step.”
Dr Rae added: “The earliest we could start doing any building of the nursery propagation glasshouses is nine months to a year.
“We think the research glasshouses themselves will cost about £10m to replace.”