St Andrews Botanic Garden


St Andrews

Fife KY16 8RT


Why should we visit?

The historic town of St Andrews has many appealing attractions, but just a step away from its bustling centre is a tranquil oasis that this autumn will be hosting a series of events, many of them themed around trees.

The gardens themselves are tucked away behind a canopy of mature trees that are just beginning to take on their spectacular autumn colours and it is those trees that will be the centrepiece of activities, including on October 4, when a lunchtime lecture will explore The Present and Future of Our Urban Forests, looking at the role of city and town-centre woodlands, such as the one in St Andrews Botanics itself, in nurturing wildlife and improving the environment for residents.


Story of the garden

Originally founded in 1889 as a teaching garden for medical students at St Andrews University, the garden moved to its present 18-acre site, alongside the Kinness Burn, in 1960. When the university no longer had need of it, its upkeep was taken over by a trust and today the garden still relies heavily on volunteers. It continues to educate, with school programmes and summer clubs for local children.



Amongst the many collections held within the garden, it is the sorbus and berberis that contribute much of the autumn colour. There are also new native meadows and a project called The Tangled Bank is underway. Its aim is to create habitats where wildflowers from Fife can flourish.


Don’t Miss

Plants that enjoy moist conditions flourish around a large pond, which is also a draw for birds of all kinds. The garden also has a population of red squirrels that become easier to spot as the trees start to lose their leaves.


Anything else to look out for?

When storms Arwen and Barra tore through the garden, they brought down many mature trees, but rather than being removed, these fallen timbers have been turned into a new Exploratree Play Area, where children can scramble over logs, climb on trunks and play on a giant spider’s web, made from ropes.


Best time to visit?

Tomorrow the gardens are holding a Harvest Day Celebration Picnic as the opening act in a season of activities including family nature sessions; walks with the garden’s director and its garden team; lectures on weaving and dyeing using nature materials and, on October 8, an autumn wreath workshop. The events are all part of the Scottish Tree Festival.


Any recommendations in the area?

The Eden Estuary Nature Reserve is a vast area of mudflats, sand and salt marshes that are home in winter to thousands of migratory birds. Otters and seals can be spotted around the water’s edge and sometimes dolphins appear offshore.

The reserve adjoins St Andrews West Sands beach.



From Westport, turn left into Bridge Street and then second right into Canongate.



Open every weekend, 10am- 6pm (4pm closing from October). Tickets: £6/£5/Free (Under 18s, carers, student card holders).

Free entry on the first Friday of every month.

The garden has a wheelchair accessible loop and most areas are flat.

Tel: 01334 461200



Scottish Tree Festival

Scotland’s woods and forests are amongst its greatest natural treasures and over the coming weeks they will start to take on their autumn colours. From Atlantic oakwoods and fragments of ancient Caledonian forest to imported conifers that soar to exceptional heights and Himalayan species that have rooted themselves into Scottish soil, the range of trees that grows here is quite exceptional.

From today until Thursday, dozens of gardens and estates will be taking part in the Scottish Tree Festival, organised by Discover Scottish Gardens. It offers a chance to experience the magic of the woods and forests and discover some of the country’s biggest and most beautiful trees.

There will be walks and talks, guided tours and family activities all aimed at encouraging us to tramp among fallen leaves, hug a bark-covered giant, spot wildlife amongst the branches and enjoy the autumn beauty.

Events include forest therapy at the Japanese Garden near Cowden; a fairies and folklore trail at Attadale Garden, Wester Ross; guided tours of the soaring trees at Hopetoun House near Edinburgh and tree climbing adventures at Paxton House in the Borders. Some of the country’s oldest trees can be found at Cawdor Castle, near Nairn, where at the heart of the estate’s Big Wood, which is home to giant sequoias, Spanish chestnut trees and Noble firs, lies one of the remaining fragments of the Ancient Caledonian Forest that once covered much of Scotland. Graham Griffiths, estate director, Cawdor Castle and director of Discover Scottish Gardens, says: “Woods like these have their own, special atmosphere and we have to work to protect them from threats such as climate change.

One of the best ways of safeguarding them is for people to experience their beauty and recognise their importance to species such as pine martens and red squirrels and I hope that as many people as possible will go out and explore Scotland’s remarkable woods during the Scottish Tree Festival.”