A Great Day Out at the St Andrews Botanic Garden

One of the scenes from St Andrews Botanic Garden

One of the scenes from St Andrews Botanic Garden

If you’re enjoying a holiday in and around the beautiful St Andrews area of eastern Scotland, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the spectacular landscape and scenery.

With much to see and do, it’s the perfect place for a family holiday, offering a unique blend of relaxation and tranquility with lots of local attractions.

St Andrews Botanic Garden is a popular place to visit, providing a diverse range of plants from both home and overseas, plus exciting trails for younger visitors to explore. If you look closely you might even spot a Gruffalo…

History and origins

Originally founded in 1889 by a group of botanical enthusiasts, the Garden was about a quarter of an acre in size with 78 different beds. Fast-forward to 1960, and it had exploded in size to 7.8 acres which grew further to reach the 18.5 acres it covers today.

The garden has always fulfilled a purpose of being a site of special interest, maintaining links with other similar sites and taking part in projects such as seed exchanges.

The present-day gardens are intended to satisfy a number of different purposes: as well as the original botanical need, they have also been planned and landscaped to provide interest and relaxation, plus an educational setting for visiting schools and groups.

The gardens

The main gardens are divided into a number of different areas such as Heath, Herbaceous, Water, Rock, Woodland and Order Beds. This provides a rich diversity of landscapes for visitors to wander around, enjoying the different types of plant life which can be seen.

Around 8000 different types of plants, ferns, trees and shrubs can be found in the gardens, some native to Scotland but others brought in from overseas.

The rock garden is the perfect example of this fusion of domestic and international botany, containing more than 2500 alpine plants in total.

But the gardens aren’t just scenic, they are purposeful too with a vegetable plot, herb garden and an orchard, new for 2015.


One of the glasshouses at the St Andrews Botanic Garden

One of the glasshouses at the St Andrews Botanic Garden

For the plants that don’t enjoy the cool temperatures of the St Andrews region, there are a number of glasshouses situated amongst the gardens. These feature a number of exotic species, and are split into climate types showcasing everything from orchids to cacti.

These glasshouses provide some spectacular displays of colour, with corridors of tropical plants offer lush greenery and bursts of heady scents.

Trails and activities for children

Although adults will appreciate the natural beauty and serene landscapes that can be found in the grounds of St Andrews Botanic Garden, there’s lots for younger visitors to enjoy too.

The Gruffalo Trail suitable for explorers aged 2-12 is one of the most popular routes, reading the story along the way and following the carved posts. Have a race to see who can spot the characters hiding amongst the trees and what’s that behind the giant redwood tree? Could that be the Gruffalo? Only a visit to the Gardens will reveal what’s in store…

Other trails include the Hug a Tree Trail with backpacks being provided upon arrival to help children find 12 special trees in the grounds, the Busy Bee Trail, Scottish Native Tree Trail and Let’s Look Trail.

There’s also holiday clubs during the Easter, summer and autumn holidays for visitors to enjoy a range of nature-related activities during their stay.


St Andrews Botanic Garden is a place of great beauty, relaxation and interest too, offering different sights and experiences throughout the year. With the plants changing in colour with the seasons, a visit to the Botanic Garden is always certain to throw up something new, and with so many activities for children too, it’s a constant source of fascination and fun.

Image Credits: Siannie and Chiara

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