National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Guide to the Garden

Guide to the Garden

The Archivists’ Garden rests in a peaceful spot, nestled between two of National Records of Scotland’s buildings; General Register House and New Register House. 

Flowing Layout of Archivists' GardenThese buildings house some of the nation’s archives and registers of vital events (births, marriages, deaths). They are filed, indexed and ordered. The human mind is not like that. Living memories are random and often incomplete, sometimes part-fact and part-story. The Archivists’ Garden takes inspiration both from the purpose of National Records of Scotland in storing and preserving the records of the nation; and from the minds of those who visit it, and the unique way the human brain stores information.

The garden was conceived and coordinated by David R Mitchell, Curator at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, who researched and produced the interpretation. It, and the plant palette used, was designed by Gross. Max. To hear more on how they created the garden, watch the interview with David and Eelco.

Explore the Garden Virtually

The Archivists’ Garden can now be explored remotely! Take a walk round the garden virtually in this full 3D scan. Follow the link below and explore walking through the garden by clicking and dragging your mouse, or using the keyboard arrows to move through the space. Hovering over and clicking on the large dots will reveal the name of each plant and why it has been included in this space. 

Enter the Archivists' Garden in Spring

A photograph of the Archivists' Garden scan, showing plants and icons for information on each one

Enter the Archivists' Garden in Summer

Photograph of the Archivists' Garden showing the surrounding buildings and plant life

Guide to the plants in the Archivists' Garden

Diagram of the Archivists' GardenDetailed information about every plant, and why it was included in the garden, is available in the plant guide and indexed by the topic that connects it to Scottish history: Birth, Marriage or Death; Famous Scots; Heraldry; Homecoming or Tartan.

Much of the information associated with these plants is from the cultural role they used to, or still do, play in people’s daily lives. Why is it that almonds are often used as wedding favours, or in wedding cakes? Why are Rowan trees so prominent in Scottish gardens? You may be surprised to find out that the reasons often stem from traditional beliefs and associations rooted in classical mythology, ancient legends and now forgotten religions.

Other plants have direct links with physical items, such as tartan, through plant dyes. The garden incorporating the work of the Scottish Register of Tartans, of which National Records of Scotland is the custodian. There are also strong links with plants and heraldry, reflecting the work of the Court of the Lord Lyon  which is located in New Register House.

Use the indexes on the left to explore the garden and enjoy!