Elinor Gallant

Elinor Gallant

Public Programmes Manager at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. For further nuggets about the arts, science, environment and things inbetween you can follow me on Twitter @el_gallant

May 132016
 

Begonia new species 3We are currently hosting an exhibition ‘New for Old’ which presents the outcomes of craft exchange and collaboration between eight Thai craft makers, and four Scottish craft makers who travelled to Thailand in January this year. Though Thailand is rightly famed for its crafts, it should be feted for another reason – its outstanding biodiversity.

Thailand sits at the nexus of two floristic regions, the Eastern Asiatic region to the north in China, and the Malesian region to the south. These regions have influenced Thailand’s flora and botanically make it one of the world’s most fascinating countries, with an estimated 12,000 different species of plants. We say ‘estimated’ as new species are being discovered all the time, as part of the international effort to document the country’s amazing flora. The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is part of the team working on this project, which has to date covered about 5000 species in eleven Flora of Thailand volumes.

Recent discoveries of new species from Thailand as part of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh’s Tropical Diversity research programme highlight the beauty of Thailand’s native flora, and how much there is still left to discover and conserve.

Feb 122016
 
Object from the Temperate Palm House (exhibition install photograph by Natalia Janula)

Objects from the Temperate Palm House (exhibition install photograph by Natalia Janula)

Object from the Temperate Palm House (exhibition install photograph by Natalia Janula)

Objects from the Temperate Palm House (exhibition install photograph by Natalia Janula)

An exhibition currently at Bargain Spot in Edinburgh Objects from the Temperate Palm House shows a stunning range of work by eleven contemporary artists, displayed on or incorporating some beautiful palm specimens from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh’s glasshouses. I was particularly taken with a ceramic piece, though it took me a moment to establish that was the material. Using a section of palm trunk as a plinth, the texture and colour of the ceramic has some similarity to rusts and is a curious object.

The show has been expertly curated by Chloe Reith and Kirsty White. I particularly appreciated the interpretive leaflet that set the palm objects and artworks on an equal standing, and gave further explanation of where they came from and the ideas behind the works. The exhibition is only on for another two weeks (closes 27 February) and I highly recommend visiting it while you can!

Photograph by Natalia Janula

Photograph by Natalia Janula

 

 

 

Aug 052015
 
The HandleBards, winers of the Sustainable Practice Award 2014.

The HandleBards, winners of the Sustainable Practice Award 2014.

I’m delighted that yet again Fringe shows here at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh  have been shortlisted for the Fringe Sustainable Practice Award. Last year’s winners were the HandleBards, for their shows of Comedy of Errors and Macbeth, here at the Garden. The HandleBards are returning this year with new productions of Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream – not to be missed!

The Fringe Sustainable Practice Award acknowledges shows which engage their audiences with sustainability; take responsibility for their environmental, economic, and social impacts; and think big about how the arts can help to grow a sustainable world. This year’s shortlist of 21 includes two shows here at the Garden: Fraxi Queen of the Forest, by Asylon Theatre, and our exhibition Photosynthesis, presented by Dutch art collective the Tropists. The winner will be annouced on 28 August.

You can find out about our full fringe programme at www.rbge.org.uk/fringe

FRAXY PLAKAT

Tulips by Arie van't Riet, part of Photosynthesis exhibition.

Tulips by Arie van’t Riet, part of Photosynthesis exhibition.

Jul 242015
 

On 21 June crowds flocked to the Garden to take a look at quite a spectacle being contstructed. Over 50 baking teams had been planning, baking and icing to make edible 3D cakes of the landmarks of Edinburgh, which were then being brought together to make a giant edible cake map of our city. I was blown away by the amazing response we had to the event, the brainchild of food events organiser extraordinaire Simon Preston. We had a record number of visitors through our gates – nearly 16K! Here are some of my favourite snaps from the day.

CakeFest on Inverleith House Lawn, 21 June 2015

CakeFest on Inverleith House Lawn, 21 June 2015

Some of RBGE's cakey contributions left to right: Botanic Cottage; Demonstration Garden; Inverleith House

Some of RBGE’s cakey contributions left to right: Botanic Cottage; Demonstration Garden; Inverleith House

The Balmoral baker takes a ride on the back of the truck with the heaviest cake of the day

The Balmoral baker takes a ride on the back of the truck with the heaviest cake of the day

The final touches being made to this sugary Scottish Parliament

The final touches being made to this sugary Scottish Parliament

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop with RBGE's very own Vlasta Jamnicky and her marvellous cakey titan arum

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop with RBGE’s very own Vlasta Jamnicky and her marvellous cakey titan arum

The completed cake map, being admired by the crowds before they all started gobbling it up.

The completed cake map, being admired by the crowds before they all started gobbling it up.

Mar 222015
 
Watching (Photo by Andy Catlin)

Watching (Photo by Andy Catlin)

Watching (Photo by Andy Catlin)

Watching (Photo by Andy Catlin)

Last night saw the final performance of Watching, a collaborative project between musicians, historians, sleep scientists and primary schools which began in January 2014. The Garden provided the ideal location for a show which took inspiration from the historical uses of plants to treat insomnia (or ‘watching’). The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh have worked with Edinburgh University’s Music in the Community on previous projects, including The Quicken Tree and Conference of the Birds. As with previous production music students worked with primary school pupils, this year from Leith Primary School, to create outstanding performances, including fantastic bats, badgers, moths and moles!

 

 

Watching (Photo by Andy Catlin)

Watching (Photo by Andy Catlin)

 

“When we found out that we were doing Watching we were so excited and knew once we left primary school we would never forget this experience.”

Primary 7, Leith Walk Primary School

Watching (Photo by Andy Catlin)

Watching (Photo by Andy Catlin)

Watching gave audiences the opportunity to experience the Garden as they never had done, being taken on a journey by talented performers, in beautiful costumes, with sets, lighting and sound that showed the Garden in a whole new way – it truly was a multi-sensory experience. It was a privilege to be involved in the hosting of this event at the Garden, working with an incredibly talented creative and production team… now to catch up on my own sleep!

Find out more about the project at http://www.watching.eca.ed.ac.uk/

Watching (Photo by Andy Catlin)

Watching (Photo by Andy Catlin)

Watching (Photo by Andy Catlin)

Watching (Photo by Andy Catlin)

Watching (Photo by Andy Catlin)

Watching (Photo by Andy Catlin)

Watching (Photo by Andy Catlin)

Watching (Photo by Andy Catlin)

Watching (Photo by Andy Catlin)

Watching (Photo by Andy Catlin)

Watching (Photo by Andy Catlin)

Watching (Photo by Andy Catlin)

Nov 142014
 

Behind the scenes - Elspeth Haston and Lorna Mitchell looking at potential items to include in the Botanical Treasures publicationI’m getting excited gearing up for our Book Week Scotland events that kick off in less than two weeks. Some visitors may not realise that we have a library that is Scotland’s national reference collection for specialist botanical and horticultural resources, and that we are also a publisher. So, the event we have to kick things off is most appropriate as it will give the audience a chance to see behind the scenes in our library, archive and herbarium, and meet some of the authors and staff who contributed to our recent publication Botanical Treasures, which highlights some of the fascinating and diverse gems we have in our collection.

John WrightBut our events aren’t just focussing on what’s indoors. Have you ever wondered where the name of a plant or an animal comes from? We are delighted that author John Wright is joining us and will be leading walks to look at some of the species in the Garden, exploring the people and the stories behind the names we use to organise and make sense of nature. Some of us may find scientific names baffling from time-to-time (I know I do; I’m no scientist!) but if you delve a little deeper, as John has in his new book The Naming of the Shrew, there you will find some incredibly creative and humourous examples.

Creativity inspired by nature is the subject of our artist book sessions, that we have worked in partneship with the Scottish Poetry Library to host. Jean Johnston will be leading a hands-on session in which participants can handle her precious handmade books, each containing a single poem and made from natural materials. I’m really looking forward to this opportunity to handle precious works of art, and I got even more excited about it when I read this account about Jean sharing her work with the Special Collection team at the University of St Andrews. Make sure you get your ticket booked, as there are limited places available for this!

You can find full listings for our Boook Week Scotland events here.

Jun 052014
 

If you have been to the Garden recently you may have spotted our Little Free Library, situated between our Glasshouses and main Science buildings. The concept of a Little Free Library is quite simple: ‘ Take a Book. Leave a Book’. It is a global movement that offers an opportunity to share books that teach, intrigue, engage and inspire. And ours is the first in Scotland!LFL map

Our Little Free Library currently has a great selection of fact and fiction, including plant and garden focussed books. Pop along and have a look! If you see something you would like to read, take it. Once you’re done, return it to a Little Free Library, or pass it on to a friend. Simple.

You can donate books to our Little Free Library at either of our visitor receptions, at the East or West gates.

Our Little Free Library at the Botanics

Our Little Free Library at the Botanics

Feb 132014
 
Expedition Botanics 2013

Expedition Botanics 2013

Edinburgh International Science Festival 2014 programme was launched today, and it looks like another smasher! Tickets are now on sale, and we have got lots to offer families and adults at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

Bring the family along for Expedition Botanics and search for traditional knowledge about Colombian rainforest plants. We also have free drop-in activities covering a great variety of topics, from coasts to farms and bugs to birds.

We’ve also got events just for the adults, including our second Botanics Late with live music, bar and food, and hands-on activities without the kids getting in the way!

Visitors to our last Botanics Late (Nov 2013) show off their creativity. Photo: Eoin Carey

Visitors to our last Botanics Late (Nov 2013) show off their creativity. Photo: Eoin Carey

Visit the Science Festival website to see full listings and booking details for our events – click here