Georgian Leith cottage rebuilt at Royal Botanic Garden

Sutherland Forsyth, community engagement co-ordinator, at the cottage. Picture: Neil Hanna
Sutherland Forsyth, community engagement co-ordinator, at the cottage. Picture: Neil Hanna
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BOSSES at the Royal Botanic Garden have announced plans for a public gala day to allow visitors the first look what is now the newest – and oldest – building on the site.

The historic Botanic Cottage has been rebuilt brick by brick from its original home in Leith.

The special event on May 30 will see the doors flung open for members of the public to visit and learn more about the conservation project.

The Georgian cottage once served as the gateway to the Botanics’ historic site on Leith Walk and was home to a succession of head gardeners, as well as being the main learning space for students attending Edinburgh University, at a time when botanical science was a key part of medical training.

In 2008, the building was uprooted stone by stone, carefully numbered, transported and stored, and reconstructed using traditional methods to serve as a centre for community and education work in the attraction’s present site. 
Sutherland Forsyth, community engagement co-ordinator for the Botanic Cottage project, said: “The Botanic Cottage reconstruction has been a project like no other.

“The building deserves a grand celebration that we would like to share with the public. We are very excited to show people around the building for the first time and share its fascinating story.

“For our Cottage Garden Gala, from noon to 4pm, we have lots of fun and entertaining activities planned for all ages, some of them themed to take visitors back to an earlier time, and some to experience the building in its new role – as a community resource that celebrates the world of plants and gardening.

“Bring a picnic and take in the cottage’s surroundings, enjoy a storytelling session in the upstairs classroom, or have a bit of a potter in the potting shed – there will be lots to do in and around the building, and in such a fantastic setting it’s sure to be a great day.”

The event is part of a season of events at the Botanics called Be Inspired by Nature and is also part of the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, supported by VisitScotland. It will feature live music, creative activities, cooking demonstrations, dancing, storytelling and more.

In a nod to the building’s past, visitors will also be able to try on costumes more in keeping with the last time the building was opened for the first time – in 1766. The cottage is now at the heart of the Botanics’ community education programme.

It features a community room upstairs, where botany lectures used to be held, and downstairs has a spacious kitchen along with education spaces housed in the two wings.

From May this year, groups of all ages will start to use the Botanic Cottage for classes, workshops, talks and meetings.