Royal Botanic Gardens shuts glasshouses over ‘safety concerns’

The Royal Botanic Garden has been closed for around a week.
The Royal Botanic Garden has been closed for around a week.
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Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh has shut all its ‘Front Range’ glasshouses due to safety reasons,

The closure followed a regular health and safety inspection where it was found that some of the nuts and bolts that hold the structures together needed replacing.

The first high winds of the season have also led to the whole garden being closed this morning.

The Front Range glasshouses are all Grade A listed and date from the 1950s. There are 10 interconnected glasshouses, 2,900 sqm in total.

The botanic garden has almost 8,000sqm of glass and it all needs refurbishing. The newest glasshouses are those used for scientific work and date from the 1970s. The oldest is the Victorian tropical house.

Talks are underway with the Scottish Government about raising the £11m needed for a complete overhaul of its 8,000 square metres of glass, as well as modernising some of the heating systems.

Regius keeper Simon Milne said it was not unusual to need to close the glasshouses for routine maintenance. “They require constant maintenance. They are getting old and need total refurbishment. We are working on a plan to refurbish the Front Range glasshouses and the Victorian Palm Houses and completely replace the glasshouses that are behind to house the research collection. This is one of our biggest challenges at the moment.”

“It’s taking it right back to basics and making sure it’s really fit for purpose for the next 20 to 30 years. When it happens we will move plants bit by bit from that location into our nursery. We will be decanting in a phased manner which is why it will take six years. It’s all about looking after our natural collection.

“The crucial thing is to secure our irreplaceable living collection that’s been built up over hundreds of years. It’s one of the finest plant collections of the world we have in the Botanics, and it’s my duty to make sure that we are continuing with these collections and continue to develop them.”

The garden lost more than 500 panes of glass, alongside 34 trees, in the worst storm in living memory on 3 January 2012. At the time its Montane and Wet Tropics glasshouses suffered significant structural damage which needed repair. They did not re-open to the public until 24 February.