The first Keeper of the Garden was James Traill FRS. The garden was laid out, as was the fashion at the time, in formal beds, but little of the original Garden survives, as it was entirely turned over to vegetables during the First World War. Traill's successor, James Craib, planted many of the fine trees which grace the Garden, and laid out the long herbaceous border while still forms a main axis in the design. Craib also extended the excavation of the sunken garden, with formal terraces and a rose pergola. After the Second World War the new Keeper, J.R.Mathews, and his Head Gardener, James Robb transformed the sunken garden with stone edged beds and paths and established the collection of rhododendrons and dwarf conifers which are a fine feature of the Garden today.

John Davidson (1878-1970) was a botany assistant and later curator of the Botany Museum in the Cruickshank Building from 1893 to 1911. He emigrated to Canada, where he founded the University of British Columbia Botanic Garden. 'Botany John', as he was known, was a keen photographer and among his collection of lantern slides are a few of the Cruickshank Botanic Garden taken in the early 1900s.

This one shows a view from what is now the sunken garden with the old Cruickshank Building on the right. The hedge on the left runs along the line of the current main path through the Garden.

A fascinating account of Davidson's life, and a digitised archive, including his lantern slides can be viewed at

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