Platform 11

There was once a very special garden located where today folk arrive to, and leave from, Waverley Station, Edinburgh.

This Physic garden sat at the east end of the Nor Loch [before it was drained]. The garden was within the grounds of Trinity Orphan Hospital and was developed in 1676 because the Physic garden at Holyrood was no longer large enough. These gardens were tended by, and flourished under, the care of the botanist James Sutherland.

In the background of the above drawing you can see the Orphan Hospital. I recently made a film about this Orphan Hospital [it too gave way to the railway and the building of Waverley station]:

The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh has shared the special history of this garden:

“By the early 1680s the garden at Trinity Hospital contained over 2000 plants, described by Sutherland in his Hortus Medicus Edinburgensis (1683). In its introduction, it is possible to get a vivid picture not only of the garden itself, but also of Sutherland, who managed to combine self-taught practical horticultural skills with rigorous study and intense curiosity. He deserves much of the credit for making Edinburgh a leading centre for medical botany. “

James Sutherland made sure that his catalogue was written in Latin and English so that it “might be the more useful to all persons.” Although known for his abilities as a herbalist and his enthusiasm for plants, Sutherland was just a youth when first recruited by Dr  Robert Sibald and Dr Andrew Balfour to take care of their burgeoning plant collection.

James Sutherland was the first professor of botany at the University of Edinburgh, from 1676–1705.

It has been recorded of James Sutherland: “In addition to his leadership of all things botanical in the city of Edinburgh, he had a great reputation as an antiquary and numismatist, activities to which he chose to devote more time in the later part of his long life.”

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