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Hope as Botanics picks up pieces

Published on 7 January 2012

STAFF at a Scottish tourist attraction badly hit in this week's storms say it will take several weeks for the damage to their historic glasshouse to be repaired.

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But those behind the massive clean-up at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh (RBGE) point out they have already re-opened for business and hope to grow new trees from the remains of some of the felled rare species.

Hundreds of glass panels were smashed and dozens of trees, many of them ancient specimens, were destroyed during Tuesday's storms.

Of the trees damaged – some of which were hundreds of years old – was a Chinese Tree of Heaven which was collected in the wild at the beginning of the last century.

The garden, initially closed to the public, re-opened on Thursday after paths were cleared, broken glass collected, damaged trees were roped off and it was decided it was safe for the public.

The cost of the damage is yet to be calculated and it is hoped much of the building repair work, including the glass damage, will be covered by insurance.

There are currently no plans to launch a public appeal to offset any financial burden.

Sandra Donnelly, a spokeswoman for the RBGE, said the clean-up was well under way but that it could be "weeks rather than days" before all the glass is replaced.

In the case of the trees, however, 40 of which were uprooted or damaged, the efforts to get back to normal could take considerably longer. However, the RBGE is keen to see the positive side.

Ms Donnelly said: "We are hoping to propagate some of the wild origin species and grow new trees and replace the old ones.

"Our curator is looking to the optimistic side. It gives an opportunity for new planting and eventually they'll be as big and majestic as the ones we have lost."

The RBGE has also been contacted by Lincoln Cathedral, which wants to use one of the garden's fallen oaks to help repair its roof.

Ms Donnelly said: "If the tree can be recycled and put to good use then that's what we're all about – conservation."

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