Botanic garden to host milestone ceremony

Gardeners attending the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) today (May 21st) will bear witness to a milestone in its 300-year history.

Cabinet secretary for rural affairs Richard Lochhead will be officiating at the topping-out ceremony of the John Hope Gateway Visitor Centre.

The project was made possible after a £10 million investment from the Scottish government and a further £3.2 million award from the Lottery Heritage Fund.

Mr Lochhead explained it is good to see the centre close to completion and the money granted by the government coming to fruition.

"It is particularly apt that the topping-out is during Scottish Biodiversity Week," he said, adding it is a goal of the department of rural affairs and environment to stop biodiversity loss by 2010.

The visitor centre was conceived as a showcase for sustainable design and is integrated into the RBGEs landscape.

Mr Lochhead suggested one of the major challenges in promoting sustainability and biodiversity is educating the public – something he feels the new visitor centre will help accomplish.

The Royal Horticultural Society will be doing some educating of its own this week at its Chelsea Flower Show.