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A Garden for the Biocene

Reading Time 2 minutes and 30 seconds
Date 26 January 2023
This month, our team begins the next step in our Biodiversity Plan – preparing Garden for the next phase of the Tangled Bank project where the glasshouse collections have been previously. Like the meadows and sand dunes, the Biocene Garden will be a grassland habitat, showing how gardeners and landscape managers can respond to the joint climate and biodiversity crises by putting sustainability first.

The Biocene Garden will allow us to research and show how our urban greenspaces could look, or should look in 2070 or 2090, as our climate changes. As with the rest of the Garden, the Biocene Garden will be a place for experimentation and knowledge sharing, incorporating the garden design features and technologies of the future. Flow of plant and wildlife species between the different components of the Tangled Bank system will also allow for new conservation questions to be addressed – exploring how our urban ecosystems may fit with, or threaten, the ecosystems we conserve.

In the period leading up to construction of the Biocene Garden, a “Meanwhile Garden” will be created, a space for our team to experiment and test and our plans for the Biocene Garden. This will not only provide our team with an understanding of what plants and features will work well in the Biocene Garden and why, but also provide ideas for land managers, botanic gardens and our visitors to implement in their own gardens, and create new opportunities for volunteers and local students to gain work experience by contributing to these experiments.

This work is all part of the early stages of our Biodiversity Plan, setting out a new vision for St Andrews Botanic Garden, and pivoting our work to provide places where visitors can see locally relevant examples of how temperate plants and habitats like we have in Fife are changing, and how we can best protect and prepare them for the future. Botanic gardens are in a unique position to improve our understanding of plants and their associated ecosystems, addressing some of the most urgent issues of our time. Our work is targeted in areas where we feel that our time and effort will have maximum impact, matching our conservation and research plans to the resources we have and will develop. As a botanic garden in Fife, we are best placed to focus on threatened plants here in Scotland, and their counterparts in other temperate regions. As part of this shift, we are managing the Garden as a collection of habitats, so that they can be used not only to educate and inspire, but also places where experiments can be conducted that would not be possible in their natural habitats.

Our Biodiversity Plan also outlines our aims to demonstrate sustainable best practice across all areas of the business, decreasing our footprint whilst inspiring positive change in others. The decommissioning of our glasshouses plays a vital role in this process, significantly reducing our energy usage and allowing us to become carbon negative - or climate positive.

The Biocene Garden will be shaped by community consultation, and we hope many people will take up the opportunities to be involved in this process throughout the year. Please keep an eye on our social media, or sign up for our monthly newsletter, for updates on how to be involved in this process. Our team are incredibly excited about our new direction and are always happy to discuss our plans with our visitors and local community. If you have any questions about the Garden and our work, you’re very welcome to ask at our Visitor Centre or drop us an email at

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