Feb 282024

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, John Hope Gateway Visitor Centre, Arboretum Place, EH3 5NZ

Botanic garden glass greenhouses with a domed glass building in the background and red azaleas (flowers) in the foreground.

Isobel Wylie Hutchison (1889 – 1982) was a Scottish Arctic traveller, botanist and polyglot. She was a prolific writer and published many books and articles about her travels. Hutchison also recorded film footage of her travels, some of the oldest documentary footage existing today. Her papers were gifted to the National Library of Scotland, and many of the plants she collected on her travels can be found here, at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh. Hutchison was the first woman to receive the Mungo Park Medal from the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, and in 1949, the University of St Andrews awarded her an honorary degree, recognising her contributions to research and her “indomitable spirit”.

Two portraits of a dark-haired woman, the first dressed in traditional Arctic clothing (late 1920s). The second portrait features the same woman dressed in a dark jumper and wool skirt, sitting on the stone edge of a fountain or pond and petting a Dalmatian dog.
A table with several pressed plant specimens and a watercolour book open to a painting of a tundra-like landscape.
A small stone castle with a walled garden, blooming flowers, and blue skies.

Note: If you wish to view the specimens Hutchison donated to the Botanic Garden, a visit to the Herbarium must be scheduled in advance.


Additional links:

Jan 152019

Photograph of the entrance to the shore path

The entrance to the shore path

Walking Path, West Shore Road, Edinburgh EH5 1QG

On October 16th, 1939, the skies over Granton’s shoreline were filled with enemy bombers. In the first major raid against Britain of WWII, the German Luftwaffe sent twelve Junkers Ju88A-1s to intercept Royal Navy Battleship HMS Hood. Approaching from the west, the bomber crews saw they were too late – a battleship already safely docked in Rosyth Dockyard. Seeking alternative targets, the Junkers dived to attack shipping in the river below. With total surprise they dropped their bombs unopposed, narrowly missing HMS Edinburgh and HMS Southampton. Wave after wave of bombing harried the desperately zig-zagging ships. Then a shock… Spitfires! The raiders had been briefed there were no Spitfires in Scotland. Now two squadrons of them swarmed in defence. The bombers broke and fled for their lives, chased back down the river or across Edinburgh at rooftop height. Citizens dived for cover as machine guns rattled and bullet casings cascaded onto the streets. Two bombers were shot down into the Forth, their surviving crew rescued by local fishing boats. The 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron had claimed the first ever Spitfire victory. Edinburgh’s skies were safe, but disaster had only narrowly been averted.