The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh: Some Photos

In 1670 two doctors – Robert Sibbald and Andrew Balfour – laid out a garden near the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh to grow herbs, flowers and plants for medical purposes. After the University of Oxford Botanic Garden, which had been founded earlier in 1621, it was the second botanic garden in Britain.

Later, in 1684, a second Physic Garden was opened by these two Edinburgh doctors on a site that used to be occupied by Trinity Hospital and is today part of the Waverley railway station. Eventually, these two gardens were united in 1763 on the west side of one of the longest streets in Edinburgh, Leith Walk, before the Royal Botanic Garden was transferred north to its present location at Inverleith in 1820. It is worth a visit for tourists, as the photos show.

Botanic Garden E3
The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. The photo was taken by me (Nils Zumbansen) in one of the Glasshouses in 2019.
Botanic Garden E1
Inverleith House in the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. The photo was taken by me (Nils Zumbansen) in 2019.



Turnbull, Michael T.R.B. Curious Edinburgh. Reprinted ed. Stroud. The History Press, 2010.


Just One Photo – The Thames

The Thames

“Hunters for gold or pursuers of fame, they all had gone out on that stream, bearing the sword, and often the torch, messengers of the might within the land, bearers of a spark from the sacred fire. What greatness had not floated on the ebb of that river into the mystery of an unknown earth!…The dreams of men, the seed of commonwealths, the germs of empires.”

Theses lines are taken from Joseph Conrad’s famous novella Heart of Darkness.

Domini Canes or Dominicans

A short entry about the nickname of the Dominicans – “domini canes” (Eng. “hounds of the Lord”)

In the medieval Dominican church Santa Maria Novella in Florence visitors find impressive frescoes. One of them is called (in English) Allegory of the Active and Triumphant Church and of the Dominican order. It was created by the 14th-century  Italian painter Andrea di Bonaiuto da Firenze or Andrea da Firenze. You can see it in the Spanish Chapel  (or, actually, Cappellone degli Spagnoli).

Dominicans 1
A part of the fresco Allegory of the Active and Triumphant Church and of the Dominican order (14th century)
Dominicans 2
Dominicans (the hounds of the Lord)

A part of this fresco apparently illustrates, among other people, three Dominican saints –  St Peter of Verona, the founder of this Catholic order St Dominic and the famous Doctor of the Church St Thomas Aquinas – and black and white spotted hounds. St Thomas seems to debate and teach non-Christians as well as heretics, while St Dominic preaches to a group of people.

St Peter of Verona appears to order black and white spotted dogs or hounds to fight off wolves. The hounds represent the Dominicans, alluding to their nickname.

Dominicans wear white habits and black cloaks. Thus, they are / were referred to as Blackfriars in England. Because the Dominicans zealously preached, adhered to doctrinal law and acted against heretics, they received the nickname “domini canes” or, in English, “hounds of the Lord or God”. It was a Latin pun on Dominicans (domini means, in English, of the Lord and canes means dogs or hounds).