The rock garden


Botanic gardens are in a unique position to improve our understanding of the plant kingdom, addressing some of the most urgent issues of our time. Almost every answer to the challenges presented by climate change and the biodiversity crisis requires a better understanding of how plants function and evolve, and in particular, how they respond to environmental and climatic conditions.

Stock Beds

The six principles that guide our work

The Garden is managed to maximise ecological resilience, focusing on our niche as a garden of temperate plants but without an exclusive focus on native plants, or pre-conceived ideas of ecosystem integrity. We find all plants fascinating, whether they are pavements weeds or canopy trees, and our habitat management will allow multi-trophic interactions and communities to develop and be measured.

The Garden aims to demonstrate sustainable best practice across all areas of the institution, decreasing our footprint whilst inspiring positive change in others. To do this, we study research questions which allow us to understand how the distributions of plants are changing as a response to climate change and how we can predict likely impacts on their range. These climate-plant dynamics are critical to contemporary conservation – with associated thorny questions of assisted migration and selective breeding – as the changes become more pronounced.

To be a living, dynamic testbed for trying out new methods and techniques which can be usefully scaled to contribute to the ecological resilience of the ecosystems around us. By working with partners as part of a network of linked sites, we are building detailed and in-depth datasets through biodiversity monitoring, contributing to deeper understanding of eco-evo dynamics and more accurate ecological forecasting.

To be a hub for sharing knowledge and skills, and encouraging people of all backgrounds to develop creative and positive botanically inspired solutions to the problems that we face. We will provide quality information and advice on habitat management and green infrastructure development. The Botanic Garden draws on a combination of academic and practical skill sets, and is excellently placed for developing, testing and scaling management techniques which will contribute to some of the pressing issues facing us. Our environment is coming under increasing pressure to serve multiple purposes (eg carbon sequestration, biodiversity, ecosystem services etc) and a combination of ecological theory and practical vegetation management skills will be vital in balancing these demands.

Our plant nursery and propagation facilities play an important role in sharing our resources and innovation. One of our key strengths as a Botanic Garden is the knowledge, skills and facilities to grow a wide range of unusual and specialist plants. We are harnessing this niche by propagating and sharing locally-fitted, biosecure plants, as well as developing our capacity to produce stock for conservation projects, ecological restoration and green infrastructure projects. Our ecophysiological research and commitment to benefit sharing will enable us to identify and propagate novel genotypes which will be optimally suited to novel planting conditions.

The garden must continue to be a place to draw hope, where visitors can find peace and inspiration, and where everyone feels welcome. By accepting that we cannot do everything, our focus will remain on doing the things which will have the greatest impact, whilst supporting others to do what we cannot.

St Andrews Botanic Garden is at the start of a journey that addresses some of the most pressing challenges of our time.

Working at the interface between design, ecology and evolution means that we take a landscape scale approach to botany.

We are working on five key projects that deliver our mission. Learn more about them here.