Balfour’s Botany

March to September 2014

“Lets all Grow Wild in Pilrig Park”

Sophie Brown, Friends of Pilrig Park


From the founding father of the first ‘physic garden’ in Scotland, to the consolidation of the current botanical gardens in Edinburgh, the Balfour family was famous for their passion in promoting and communicating botany.

Inspired by the teachings of ‘Woody Fiber’, John Hutton Balfour (1808-1884), a key figure in botanical education and exploration, Balfour’s Botany fused historical research with contemporary and creative approaches to public green spaces. Working in and around Leith’s unsung gem, Pilrig Park, the project focused on engaging young people together with older residents, artists and horticulturalists in examining the botanical history of the area.

Through workshops and events the project co-created new planting schemes and artworks for the park, reinterpreting the influence of the Balfours for a new generation.



The first Community Development Plan for Pilrig Park, the planting of a native Scottish Bluebell woodland and a series of commissioned public artworks.



Friends of Pilrig Park group, Pilrig Park Allotments, supported pupils from Leith Academy and pupils from Bun-sgoil Taobh na Páirce (Gaelic Language Primary School)



Grow Wild, fund managed by Kew Gardens

Online Archive

Keywords: Project, Local, Leith, Pilrig, Park, Public, Artwork, Greenspace, Native, Planting


Project Lead: Andrea Geile and Rebecca Govier