Hidden Gardens of the Royal Mile

* * * * -

A pleasant kick-back from the stresses of Festival season, this is a delightful exploration of Edinburgh’s secret green spaces.

Image of Hidden Gardens of the Royal Mile

@ Outside John Knox House, Edinburgh, until Mon Aug 31 2015 @ 14:30

Anyone who has spent even five minutes on the Royal Mile in the middle of August, will surely find the idea of a garden—a cool, serene place of reflection and relaxation—to be the very last thing on their mind. Where, in all the throngs of street performers, flyers and slow moving tourists, could one possible be hiding?

This question would probably go some way to explaining why Green Yonder’s tours of these and other urban nature spots are so popular. Founded seven years ago by local Jean Bareham, with the aim of bringing secret green places to a wider audience, this is an informative and extremely peaceful ninety minutes.

Taking in the history of Old Town buildings and communities alongside the gardens, Bareham proves an encouraging guide, with a steady stream of information on how these places first came to be, and how much the environment of these former slums have changed.

There’s a huge range of garden types: community, charity, some barely there, and some extensively laid-out. The best is saved until the end at Dunbars Close, which has beautifully landscaped hedges, shaded benches and a huge range of plants. However, there is a huge variety of gardens and every close promises something different.

The inevitable rain showers do little to put the crowd off, which is a testament to the need for this hidden gem of a tour. By rights, it ought to become an August tradition: a soothing balm to the madness of an Edinburgh summer.