During the recent Project Soothe exhibition at the Botanics participants were asked to mark on a map of the garden places that Soothed them, Excited them or made them Anxious. These three emotions were chosen because of their use in Compassion Focussed Therapy where the ability to seek out and be soothed by certain stimuli is considered important for managing ones well-being. Over 180 people marked up the maps resulting in 755 data points.

Soothing Places

Points marked as soothing layered with heat map to emphasise clusters

Water, and especially running water, figured highly in the soothing places selected. The Rock Garden and the Chinese Hillside were the most popular areas followed by the pond but also significant are the John Muir Grove and the area around the Botanic Cottage.

Places that Excite

Points marked as exciting layered with heat map to emphasise clusters

The exciting places were the Rock Garden – perhaps because of the height but also the sense of discovery – and the edible gardening areas. People are excited to grow their own veggies! The Inverleith House Lawn is seen as exciting perhaps because of the views and also the John Hope Gateway – one person commented on being excited by the shop.

Places that make you Anxious

Anxious places layered with heat map to emphasise clusters

Fewer people marked places in the garden as making them feel anxious but the places they marked were not surprising. They are the pinch points where people are crowded together. The Terrace Café can get very busy which many people find stressful. Likewise the John Hope Gateway. Some people were also nervous about crossing the roads though others thought we were only asking about places actually in the garden and so didn’t include these experiences.

A Word Picture

Alongside the map was a text box with the question “What do you find soothing (or not) about a visit to the Edinburgh Botanics?” An analysis of the words written in that box is presented as a word cloud below.

Word cloud of comments on Botanics map.

The three maps and word cloud paint a vivid picture of how some of our visitors enjoy the garden and how valuable it is to them in managing their well-being.