Dunbar’s Close Garden, off Edinburgh’s Canongate, was designed ‘to give an idea of what gardens in this area might have been like in the seventeenth century. The garden is divided into 8 distinct areas or garden rooms, see A-H on map’ (and further information) here (pdf). In 1978, the Mushroom Trust donated the garden to the City of Edinburgh Council. The City’s Parks Department look after the space today.
Many enjoy the gardens in all four seasons. Some sit on the benches in quiet conversation, some bring their workday lunch, others read, while others, like me, contemplate the processions of people who have come here down the centuries: their dress, their work, their conversations and their leisure. And I celebrate the visionary provision of such a place of beauty and of peace.
Speaking of benches: Edinburgh is aware of its place in the annals of greatness. It’s a city that knows there are aeons of history, together with a rich present to be encountered here – and a slowing down to take stock is encouraged and welcomed. Featuring in almost all lists of fine places in the UK that are offering ‘best quality of life’ the unspoken invitation, all around the city, to ‘sit and stay awhile’ is something – among so many things – that I appreciate here deeply.
I’ve always valued quiet hours and spaces. Edinburgh’s a lovely city for peaceful night-time ambling. And given that it is, in a million different ways, a busy and bustling city by day, it’s a surprise to some that there are lots of quiet sunlit green spaces to retreat to. A favourite spot for a couple of chapters for me is the lovely little Dunbar’s Close Garden, hidden just off the Royal Mile. Today I closed my eyes there, meditating rather than reading, on words engraved in stone not far away, in 1677
Next to Canongate Kirk on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile is a little oasis of a garden, open to and enjoyed by the public, that, filled with birdsong, looked pretty as a picture this afternoon. It’s hard to imagine or describe the measure of tranquility to be enjoyed in this relatively small space in the heart of a busy city.
The Church (1688) and the Kirkyard are themselves beautiful, and home to a Mercat Cross dated 1128. Calton Hill can be seen from behind the Kirk, and just across the road there’s easy access to Holyrood Park, Salisbury Crags, Arthur’s Seat and – presently – a million Spring blossoms.
Nearby, too, there’s a distinctive meeting between ancient and modern: the ruins of Holyrood Abbey stand next to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Abbey Strand and the Queen’s Gallery; all of these opposite the strikingly different modern architecture of the new Scottish Parliament buildings, (link) the walls of which bear tablets inscribed with some of Scottish history’s poetry. Photographers like me wax lyrical about Edinburgh’s ever-changing skyscapes and the city’s distinctive skyline.
The five (clickable / swipeable) galleries in this post, each containing ten photos, are the result of just a couple of hour’s encounter with Edinburgh beauty and history in a single afternoon. And of course, as Jiminy Cricket would say: ‘there’s more!’