University of dundee botanic garden

By | 19th May 2017

University of dundee botanic garden

Dundee Botanic Garden

Visit the University of Dundee Botanic Garden and enjoy its wide range of plants, with fine collections of conifers and broad-leaved trees and shrubs, tropical and temperate glasshouses, water garden and herb garden. Located in 9.5 hectares of south facing, gently sloping land near the banks of the River Tay, the Garden features many species of indigenous British plants as well as representative collections of important plants from all the continents of the world.

The Garden is committed to Education for people of all ages, with more than 80,000 visitors crossing its threshold every year. The Garden has a popular café and gift shop with plant nursery, whilst regular art exhibitions are hosted in the Visitor Centre, and facilities exist for holding receptions and meetings.


T: +44 (0)1382 381190 (office)
T: +44 (0)1382 381193 (coffee shop)

Get Involved

There are lots of ways in which volunteers help the Garden, if you would like some ideas, or more information about volunteering at the Garden, or becoming a Friend of the Garden, please contact us using our online enquiry form.

University of dundee botanic garden

Event Hire

The Botanic Garden is an ideal place for you to hold your function in a great setting close to the heart of the City. Please contact us to discuss your requirements with us whether it is for a Wedding, Family Party or Corporate Event.


We offer a comprehensive schools programme for nursery up to Higher level linked to the Curriculum for Excellence.  We are also happy to devise new tailor-made activities according to teachers’ particular needs. Find out more.

Your Visit

Find out what to expect at your visit to the Garden. Check out our news page for updates, events and exhibitions and view beautiful photos of what we have to offer.

Certificate of Excellence

University of Dundee Botanic Garden University of Dundee, Riverside Drive, Dundee, DD2 1QH
Tel: 01382 381190 (office) 01382 381193 (coffee shop) Email:

The need for a botanic garden at the University of Dundee was identified by the University botany staff in 1966. A case was then made to the University administration, but it was promptly shelved for lack of funding.

The botany staff had considered how a new garden could be maintained in the longer term, bearing in mind the more complex traditional designs which were labour-intensive and thus costly to run. Dundee’s proposal was therefore developed to allow an operation on a shoestring budget: a policy which continues to this day. This low cash demand has remained one of the Garden’s important attributes and was the key to reviving interest in the project.

In 1970 a copy of the ‘founding memorandum’, written in 1966 by Dr Hugh Ingram, was discovered by Professor James Drever, first Principal of the University. The new Principal took up the idea with enthusiasm; and detailed planning for the Botanic Garden began.

To date there have been three Curators of the Garden:

  • 1971 to 1980 Edward Kemp
  • 1980 to 1998 Les Bissett
  • 1998 to present Alasdair Hood

The garden was well thought out at its inception. Dr Kemp brought to the project a wealth of experience in gardening and arboriculture, much of it gained when he was curator of the Royal Botanical Garden, Edinburgh. This he applied with great conviction and forethought. Les Bisset, who has an outstanding knowledge of plants, was then able to bring the garden towards maturity. He was also responsible for the existing visitor facilities.

Our current aim is to encourage more visitors to access and enjoy the Garden; and to increase the facilities for their education. Thus enabling them to appreciate the vital role plants play in everyone’s lives.

The Founding Principles and Core Functions

The founding principles of the Garden are science, education and conservation. Moreover the aim has always been to bring these principles to the attention of the entire community, and for the Garden to act as a one of the main links between the University and those who live in this part of Scotland.

Core functions have included the cultivation of plant communities in appropriate layouts and the supply of materials for teaching and research to organisations that have need of them. These users greatly influence the choice of plants grown and the groupings in which they are displayed. At a time when the survival of many plant species is threatened, conservation is a necessary further aim. Increasingly important objectives are the encouragement of visits by schools and colleges and promoting the use of the collections for biology classes, environmental education and instruction in the fine arts.

The Site

In 1971 the University Botanic Garden began to be established on a site of 9 ha facing south on a gentle slope just north of the River Tay. The site is favoured by a fertile but well drained soil. Indeed, it was the last remaining suitable site left within a reasonable distance of the University. Water that probably arises in the deep rock of Balgay Hill, a volcanic ‘plug’, was found in small stone conduits in the northwest corner of the site and has been routed to form water features. The various sources of water were fed into an arched well, designed and built by Dr Edward Kemp, the first Curator of the Garden. This carries an apt excerpt from Horace’s laudatory poem to Fons Bandusiae. The water is very pure with a high magnesium content and on emerging has a minimum temperature of 3.5C enabling climatically marginal plants to be grown in the ornamental pool.

The glasshouse is sited on an area that used to be a hockey pitch. Initially the majority of the site was virtually treeless but the enclosed lower gardens at Cidhmore and Taypark, which form the eastern end of the garden, already supported mature trees.

Visitors’ Centre

By 1980, the Garden was sufficiently developed to consider increasing the provision for public amenity and education. As the first major step, a Visitors’ Centre, was proposed and adopted as one of the objectives of the University’s Centenary Appeal. The Centre was opened in 1984 by Alan Devereux, Chairman of the Scottish Tourist Board.

This architecturally interesting building, designed and built by local firms, has been the recipient of several awards including a prestigious national award by the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1988. It was one of only 18 buildings so recognised in that year.

The Centre houses the Visitors’ Reception Desk and is the first place to look for information on the Garden. There is a popular Exhibition Area which hosts a range of exhibitions during the year, from photography to textiles, watercolours and other media.