Edinburgh Zoo's centenary rose garden nears completion

A 100-year-old rose variety will be part of a celebration of a century of roses at Edinburgh Zoo in its new 400 rose Commemorative Centenary Rose Garden.

Located on the lower lawn outside of the historic Mansion House, the garden has been designed by the Zoo gardener of 17-years Barry Fraser and will be planted in a red, white and yellow colour scheme, the latter to match the zoo’s logo.

The garden is based on the layout of the Mansion House and reflecting and following the building’s ramparts and has four separate flower beds dedicated to key people from the zoo’s history: Thomas Gillespie, Alice Gair, Professor Patrick Geddes and Sir Frank Mears.

Moonlight, a variety of rose released in 1913, the year the zoo opened, will be the oldest variety of rose planted in the garden which will be bordered by a wrought iron fence crafted by the zoo’s blacksmiths.

Curator of plants and head of sustainability Simon Jones said: "The rose garden actually includes 400 roses of 29 different varieties, with also an additional 300 hedging plants. A really beautiful addition to Edinburgh Zoo, it will be in full bloom by early summer next year and will carry on delighting visitors for many years to come. Roses are such an historic feature of Edinburgh Zoo, the gardening team here are really proud to have created this commemorative horticultural garden in the centenary year."

President of the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society Pam Whittle is due to present Edinburgh Zoo with a donation of £1,500 towards the cost.

She said: "Members of the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society are delighted to be able to support the re-introduction of a rose garden to Edinburgh Zoo.

"In the early part of the 20th Century rose gardens became a popular feature of public parks and gardens, with the gardens at Saughton Park and Edinburgh Zoo being notable examples. It will be a pleasure to see these beautiful flowers add to what is already a fascinating and delightful garden."

Edinburgh Zoo has a proud horticultural history, with the original footprint of the southern aspect of the Zoo designed by town planner Patrick Geddes, who was seen as a social visionary at the time, along with his son-in-law Frank Mears.

When not designing and tending rose gardens, the 13 professional zoo gardeners design the horticultural aspects of animal enclosures and keep them regularly maintained, grow bamboo for the giant pandas, provide browse for hoof stock animals and grow fresh vegetables for some of the animals on site. The gardens team also keep the display gardens across the zoo, which include extremely old trees and some very rare plant species.

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