Edinburgh botanic garden benches must be wooden

James Salomons looks pleased with the new dedication benches. Picture: Greg Macvean
James Salomons looks pleased with the new dedication benches. Picture: Greg Macvean
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BOSSES at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) have axed controversial plans to replace rotting wooden memorial benches with plastic alternatives after the proposal was criticised by visitors.

Managers at the attraction have revealed replacements for 120 benches would instead be made from Scots oak.

The earlier seats. Picture: Esme Allen

The earlier seats. Picture: Esme Allen

The Evening News told in November how Botanics bosses were considering recycled plastic benches to replace older wooden versions which, they said, were “falling to bits”.

However, after visitors expressed disapproval, officials admitted the proposal had been rejected.

RBGE development officer James Salomons said: “The response to the trial plastic bench was mixed, so we decided we’d go with wood.

“We pride ourselves on being a place of beauty in the Capital and we feel that’s reflected in our new design.”

Mr Salomons said deliveries of the new benches would begin over the next few months and confirmed they would be made available for “adoption” by interested members of the public for £2000 over a ten-year period.

He revealed a number of workshops were considered for the job of making the new benches, but said Crieff-based Chris Early and his Woodsavvy company were selected for “hard-wearing as well as beautifully crafted” designs.

“We are absolutely confident that everyone will like this new bench,” said Mr Salomons.

“It’s handmade, sustainably sourced, comes from Scotland – and is made from wood. I think people who love the Botanics will be very happy with it.”

Mr Early, 50, said he was delighted to have been chosen by an institution with the Botanics’ “kudos” and revealed his design would help minimise damage by water and damp.

He said: “The design is simpler than most traditional garden benches and there are also fewer traps in which water can collect. It means the benches will drain out more quickly, which should help make them more weather resistant.”

News that proposals for plastic benches had been scrapped was also welcomed by city arts impresario Richard Demarco, who said: “I had given up hope when I found out the wood was going and I’m delighted they’ve chosen oak – the king of the forest.”

Plans to install benches made from recycled plastic provoked strong reaction on Facebook.

Nyk Zietara said: “I understand maintenance and rot but these are vile. Such a shame – the elegance of the Botanics replaced by plastic.”

But others were supportive. Katie Durkin said: “Recycling has to be the way.”