The Coronavirus has changed every aspect of life in Scotland and whilst there is no clear way of resisting the virus, we need to find ways to adapt. For the moment, we are closed to the public, and many of the things we specialise in or take for granted, such as the glasshouse collection, the narrow woodland paths or the coffee shop need to re-evaluated. Although the government has recently updated the movement restrictions that affect organisations like the Botanic Garden, we will have to remain closed for the time being whilst we put all the necessary preparations in place. 

Whilst the garden is closed to the public, work continues behind the scenes to look after the collection. Unfortunately we cannot do everything we want in the Garden at the moment: routine tasks such as weeding, mowing, offering teaching courses and working with the community are no longer routine but we are using this period as best we can, planning for the new world we’ll find when we re-open our gates. Every aspect of the Garden’s operations will have to be re-thought, from the Order Beds to the biosecurity policies. All of this is a challenge for an organisation like the Garden, and if you can help us prepare for this uncertain future, please consider supporting our Old Roots, New Shoots campaign.

The Urban Farm has been a great success over the past two years and the arrival of the Coronavirus coincided with the time when we were just starting to sow seeds and prepare the ground for planting out crops like salads, kales, beetroots and leeks. Many of the plants we raised were started off in trays and modules, so rather than planting them into the ground in the Garden, we have worked with Community Aid St Andrews to distribute the seedlings to people in and around St Andrews who need them most. We are delighted that the plants have found good homes in the community, including Stratheden hospital, schools, church groups, community centres and isolated individuals, and hope that growing the crops on brings as much comfort and joy to others as they do for us.

The Garden staff are studying the wild plants of Fife growing in our towns and the country, launching the Doorstep Botany project. We are encouraging people connected with the Garden or interested in the plants that grow around us to send us pictures of plants that you see in flower during the Spring and Summer – the only criteria are that it must be a plant that you see growing close to where you live and spotted during your daily walk, and the plant must not have been planted or put somewhere on purpose. We will research where in the world these plants grow and what kind of climates they are adapted to, and then using climate models we will study how well the wild plants of Fife are adapted to future climate change. It’s early days yet, but already we have been sent lots of wonderful pictures, and will share the results of the project later in the year. If you’d like to contribute, please send pictures to info@standrewsbotanicgarden.org and we’ll be in touch with more information.