I have a love-hate relationship with the Cruickshank Botanic Gardens, Aberdeen, Scotland. Well, maybe that is a little strong: ‘love-frustration’ may be more apt.
They fall fondly on my heart, not least because I had my first ‘proper’ job there as a student back in 2006. I also have many happy, relaxing memories of time spent there during time away from lectures and technical work. However I am always left with the feeling that they could and should be more. I know they don’t have the glitz and glam of Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh or Kew, but I’ve been to some stunning small gardens on smaller budgets. I just feel like the garden is still stuck in the 1970s when the last major redesign took place. Things seem to be changing now but a little too much to the tone of “let’s remove this,” with worryingly little fresh, new and vibrant planting taking place. The new curator can’t help but leave you with an infectious enthusiasm for the garden, which is refreshing, but I worry about its hesitance to fully embrace the 21st century. It has an active Friends groups – a cornerstone of any successful publicly accessible garden, but the complicated garden management structure and lack of involved partys’ agreement is a recipe for bitter taste. Still it will survive from its main uses of breaking university staff and students and for teaching school groups, but as always I can’t help but think it could be worth more.
However this has perhaps painted an overly negative view. It is still a place dear to my heart and an over-arching number of the plant photos on this site have been captured there. It’s worth spending some time getting to know it – its quirks, its staff and its little hidden gems of world flora.
Find out more about the Cruickshank Botanic Gardens here. It is open 9-5pm everyday and is open later until 7pm in March-September. I would hope that you will be able to spend time on a visit – let me know how you get on.