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Green Spaces Project of the Month

January 2003 - Chinese Hillside, Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh
Contact: David Paterson, Deputy Director of Horticulture, 0131 552 7171 d.paterson@rbge.org.uk

Botanic gardens are green spaces for everyone's pleasure, but they have special meaning for ethnic communities because they hold examples of plants from all over the world with which they have cultural associations. It is a place to see "old friends" (plants) from one's country of origin, or for those who are born here to make some discoveries.

Edinburgh's Royal Botanic Gardens has the largest collection of Chinese plants in the world outside China. It is therefore a special resource for interested groups from the Chinese community. But, plants do not have "nationalities". Many of these plants wil be familiar to people from the same geographical region. There are many Chinese plants throughout this botanic garden, but here we are highlighting a special project - the Chinese Hillside.

A brave experiment is underway at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh. A Living Collection of plants from Yulong Xue Shan, the Jade Dragon Snow Mountains in South Western China, is growing on a `Chinese Hillside'. Because the plants are allowed to grow together in a natural way, you can experience what it must be like to wander on a wild mountainside in China, and see how these plants interact in the wild to create ecological zones at different altitudes. Everyone is welcome to explore, and Scotland's Chinese communities may enjoy recognising some well-known medicinal plants, or identifying familiar trees and shrubs remembered from back home. And with a new grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, there will soon be opportunities to volunteer on an environmental interpretation project, to improve public information about the gardens.

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