Gales fell Botanics trees and smash 100s of windows

Senior Horticulturalist Robert Unwin pictured with some of the trees blown over in the Botanics on Tuesday
Senior Horticulturalist Robert Unwin pictured with some of the trees blown over in the Botanics on Tuesday
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THE Royal Botanic Garden is today counting the cost of this week’s storm after the gales toppled more than 40 trees and smashed hundreds of windows.

The visitor attraction has been left reeling after hurricane-force winds lashed the Inverleith site, with a number of the trees blown down dating back 125 years.

Among the most valuable is the ailanthus altissima – also known as the Tree of Heaven – which was torn from its roots by 100mph winds.

Curators at the Botanics hope they can propagate the rare Chinese tree – brought to Scotland in 1925 by the collector Joseph Rock – along with other rare varieties struck down by the winds.

Many were uprooted or snapped off at ground level, damaging smaller trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants around and beneath them as they fell.

The public glasshouses and research houses also suffered severe damage, leaving plants exposed to the elements, with 400 panes of glass in all smashed.

David Knott, curator of the living collections, told the Evening News it had been sad for staff to witness. He said: “I have never experienced storm damage at RBGE like this before. We will attempt to propagate the wild origin trees that have come down.”

It comes as property experts at the city council continue to survey the damage caused by the high winds at 110 city sites.

Insurance industry sources said many individual claims for damage to roofing or building fabric could total tens of thousands of pounds.

At Edinburgh Airport, a Jet2 cargo plane is being repaired after being struck by a flying bus shelter.

Scottish Power said around 600-700 homes across Edinburgh and the Lothians were still without power, with extra engineers drafted in from down south to help fix the faults.

A spokeswoman said they had received the same number of faults in a single day as they would normally in three months.

Residents of one property on Stewart Way in the Knights- ridge area of Livingston had a lucky escape after a tree landed on their home.

Forecaster for the Met Office Dave Clark said gusts reaching around 50mph would return to the Lothians on Sunday.

Kirkliston Leisure Centre will be closed for the foreseeable future until a new roof can be installed and the climbing centre at Ratho was closed after its roof was damaged, and later partly reopened. Leith Waterworld, which was closed due to storm damage, will reopen for its final weekend.

The West Approach Road remains closed in both directions between Westfield and Morrison Link after attempts to remove debris from the road were hampered by heavy rain and strong gales.