On the balmy summer evening I take a walk around Below the Blanket in Edinburgh's Royal Botanic Garden, 400 miles away in Westminster, newly-installed Prime Minister Boris Johnson is hiring and firing his cabinet like a man possessed.

If there was ever a good time to be transported to Caithness and Sutherland’s Flow Country via series of immersive and sensual artworks, this is it. The Capital is feeling unusually humid. "It's like we're in Sydney's Botanic Gardens, not Edinburgh," I say to my 15-year-old daughter, who is also drinking in the various visual, sonic and kinetic installations.

Below the Blanket is the latest creation from Glasgow-based art house, Cryptic. The multi-media company is currently celebrating 25 years of making music, sonic and visual art, while pushing out the boundaries of immersive art.

To mark this anniversary, Cryptic has taken up temporary residence in the Botanics in the Capital for the duration of Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2019. Its subject is the world's biggest blanket bog in the far north of Scotland; 200,000 hectare expanse of deep peat, dotted with bog pools, which plays a crucial role in fighting the effects of climate change.

Even though I had read up on it in advance, I wasn't sure what to expect when we walked across the Garden's threshold. Neither was Mia. "How long will this take," she asked, with a look and tone of voice only a teenager can muster in the direction of a parent who has been dragging her to art "things' since forever. I check my phone. "It says 50 minutes here." She looks suspicious.

In the end, we stayed way longer than 50 minutes because it was worth it. "Man, this is crazy!" a delighted American tourist gasped at us as we walked "inside" the first work along the trail. And it was. In a good way.

Kathy Hinde's Deep Listening Soundscapes instantly sets the tone of Below the Blanket and enveloped us like a burping burbling bog. In the undergrowth on either side of the path, rusty metal plant-like speakers "talked" to us. The information panels told us that they were meant to resemble the bogbean plants which grow in peat bogs. The sounds which we were hearing were compositions based on sounds recorded by Hinde below the surface of the Flow Country by submerged microphones called hyrdrophones.

From this trippy soundtrack, we were ushered into another boggy world which saw one of the garden's ponds transformed into a kinetic sound sculpture called Water Balance. All around the pond, long skinny tubes were filling up with flowing water until the spilled out onto cymbals, creating a never-ending symphony inspired by the waterlogged conditions necessary to sustain a healthy peat bog.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls I am here to tell you that for the next hour and a half, we talked to the trees and they talked backed to us. They even sang to us. There were several singing, ringing trees along the trail.

The first we encountered was called Flow Country. A brand new composition from Caithness composer Malcolm Lindsay, it exists every evening until August 24 underneath a giant cypress tree. This brand new four-part choral work is sung by members of Baroque ensemble, the Dunedin Consort.

Lindsay's score, sung in four parts by members of Baroque ensemble, the Dunedin Consort, draws on his own emotional connection the Flow Country, having grown up hearing stories about it. It was a beautiful and calming experience being under the cypress tree being sung to by disembodied voices. In the last week there has been two live performances there by the Dunedin Consort. There will be two more; one on Friday August 16 and one on Friday August 23.

Under a giant conifer, we come across The Moor Speaks, by singer-songwriter, Karine Polwart, and composer, Pippa Murphy. Adapted in part from a Gaelic hymn by Alexander Carmichael and sung in English and Gaelic, this haunting work celebrates the uniqueness of the blanket bog and appeals to us to preserve its wonders.

The Below the Blanket trail is clearly marked by bright orange arrows and helpful assistants in bright orange t-shirts. Along the way, there are information panels with beautiful photographs, many by award-winning Scottish photographer, Murdo MacLeod, documenting the Peatland Partnership's Flows to the Future Project in conjunction with the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

The function of the bog as a carbon store is invaluable in helping to mitigate the effects of climate breakdown and parts of the Flow Country are being restored by RSPB Scotland land managers and other organisations. This involves removing the forestry plantations, blocking drainage ditches and allowing the original water levels to return.

One of the things I hadn't realised until I read it on a panel is that when the likes of the late Sir Terry Wogan and snooker player Steve Davis were encouraged to write off earnings against tax during the 1980s, hundreds of thousands of non-native species were planted in the Flow Country. The scheme was a disaster and recently-published evidence has revealed that it damaged the bog's ability to store carbon dioxide.

Cryptic's Below the Blanket could have been a worthy but dull exercise in climate change show and tell but instead, it burrows into our senses through a host of individual works. By responding to the work being done by scientists and environmentalists, artists have helped to bring the fragile nature of this huge blanket bog to life.

Matthew Olden's Data Flow, for example, turns the scientists research into a soundtrack, played through 96 speakers in a tree. Different parts of the bog breathe differently and Olden's work lets us hear this wonder of nature.

Hannah Imlach spent 18 months in the Flow Country and her Flow Country Sculpture Series, installed in the peatland, recreate the scientific flux towers that peatland researchers use to collect data in the area. Her film, Fieldwork, is shown on a loop underneath a huge sprawling Japanese pine tree. Dubbed "smellovision" by my daughter, it shows the environmental research Imlach carried out using these unique sculptural instruments.

Kathy Hinde's Chirp & Drift was a stand-out work for me. For this completely beguiling and immersive work, she has installed a "flock" of bellows under a paperback maple tree. Handmade from waterproof paper, an orchestra of bellows and accordion reeds salvaged from broken musical instruments play a baleful never-ending symphony. The musical messages they play are based on Morse Code translations of the bird species found in the Flow Country.

So we hear a low note for a dash and a high one for a dot. It's call and response. But not as we know it. The bellows even light up…

As we head towards the exit, which was also our entrance point, we are handed a brightly-coloured umbrella for a Skylark Walk. Based on a concept by Cryptic's founder and artistic director, Cathie Boyd, these sonic umbrellas play a composition to us based on the song of the skylark to us as we walk companionably towards the East Gate of the gardens.

Our peatland revels are ended. It really was a midsummer's night's dream.

Cryptic presents Below the Blanket, Royal Botanic Garden, East Gate, Inverleith Row, Edinburgh, WH3 5LP, 0871 220 0260, cryptic.org.uk/below-the-blanket, until Aug 25 (closed Tue), 7pm–9pm (every 15 mins), Tickets (£14, £12 & £8)

Critic's Choice

Far, far from the madding – or even the zen-like – crowds of Edinburgh at festival time, Kilmorack Gallery near Beauty is showing the figurative paintings of Alan McGowan whose work is an essay in life.

McGowan trained at Edinburgh College of Art and still lives in the city. He has exhibited widely in the UK, Europe, the USA and South Korea. His work has featured in many national exhibitions of Contemporary Figurative Art including the Scottish Portrait Awards, the BP Portrait Award, the Threadneedle Prize for Figurative Art and the Ruth Borchard Self Portrait exhibition.

Gallery owner, Tony Davidson, is effusive about the paintings of Edinburgh-based McGowan. "McGowan’s paintings explore how the creative process reflects humanity," he explains. "With a magnificent command of anatomy, draughtsmanship and expressive paint handling, his understanding of the human figure goes far deeper into the collective psyche."

As McGowan himself says: "Art is prefaced by hunger; it moves to meet a feeling inside. If the shallow world of advertising images, game shows and facile materialism was enough then we wouldn’t need art. But it isn’t and we do. The arts allow us to connect outside of ourselves to a larger reality. In my case, through the works of Rubens, Leonardo, Bacon and Freud. It also, paradoxically, connects us inwards, towards our internal life.”

These are paintings which literally strip back anything extraneous by presenting figures in space. Contemplative, bold, sensitive and beguiling, they reel you in and leave you hanging. We are all flesh and bone but in mapping the human figure through the medium of paint, McGowan forces the viewer to take a deep dive into their own psyche.

Alan McGowan: The Poetry of Presence, Kilmorack Gallery, by Beauly, Inverness-shire, IV4 7AL, 01463 783 230, https://www.kilmorackgallery.co.uk/alan-mcgowan-poetry-of-presence-exhibtion/, until 17 August, open every day apart from Thur & Sun, 10am–5pm

Don't Miss

This major exhibition of paintings from the long and creative life of op-art queen, Bridget Reilly, stands out for all sorts of reasons. A bobby-dazzler of a show, which has been years in the making, it spans ten rooms in the Edinburgh's Royal Scottish Academy upper and lower galleries. The artistic life of Riley is laid out for all to see, from lines of development, through seminal works and – in the last rooms – her very early drawings and painting. It might be pricey but it's worth every penny.

Bridget Riley, Royal Scottish Academy, The Mound, Edinburgh EH2 2EL, 0131 624 6200, nationalgalleries.org. Until September 22. Tickets: £15-£13 (Concessions available)

25 & under: £10-£8.50. Free for Friends of NGoS