Dundee Botanic Garden spreads fairy dust this Christmas


11th December 2020

Local families are invited on a magical winter journey when a fairy door trail at the University of Dundee Botanic Garden launches this week.

Staff at the Garden have teamed up with local artist and Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design graduate, Gill Hastie, to create a self-guided trail that will allow visitors to explore the green space while searching for hidden fairy doors.

Launching on Saturday 12 December, families are challenged to find 20 miniature painted doors placed in the Mediterranean and Native Plants areas of the Garden.

While there’s no promise that any mystical fairies will make an appearance, the doors will spark the imagination of children and adults alike. The trail will lead visitors on an adventure through nature, with each door telling a story connected to animals, plants and people.

“We are delighted to offer the opportunity to share plant and animal stories in the habitats we steward here,” said Kevin Frediani, Curator of the Botanic Garden.

“Gill’s creativity, combined with stories connected to our living collections, provide the perfect reason for a family visit to the Garden.

“The trail will introduce visitors to some wonderful public art and give the benefit of a walk in a beautiful setting, known to help with health and wellbeing, while encouraging exploration and enquiry in the world around us. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn and explore.”

Gill previously helped bring lockdown relief to children in Invergowrie by painting and creating fairy doors to help encourage exercise and exploration of nearby nature.

For the Botanic Garden trail, Gill has painted the doors with various plants and animals, such as a vibrant blue butterfly, a bushy-tailed red squirrel and a tiny field mouse, helping to tell tales about the space and the creatures who roam it.

“I was delighted to be given the opportunity to develop this public art idea and embed it into such a beautiful and diverse environment,” said Gill. “The garden is a haven and has so many interesting stories to share.

“The doors invite visitors to see the garden from a different perspective, encouraging them to come off the main path and go through the smaller, less utilised paths of the garden.

“I hope it engages the imagination of both young and older visitors and raises a few smiles by opening doors to the gifts nature has to offer.”

The fairy door trail map and leaflet are available in the visitor centre of the University of Dundee Botanic Garden from Saturday 12 December. As part of the West End Christmas Fortnight 2020, visitors can enter the garden for free on Saturday 12 December and Sunday 13 December. Spaces need to be booked via Eventbrite.

In 2021, the University of Dundee Botanic Garden will celebrate its 50th anniversary. Another 30 doors are to be placed in other areas of the Garden over the course of the year, bringing the total to 50 – one to celebrate each year since the opening of the attraction.

For more information on online and garden-based festive activities hosted by the Garden, visit, https://www.dundee.ac.uk/botanic/events/ 

University of Dundee

Nobel Prize winning poet and honorary graduate Seamus Heaney has described the University of Dundee as ‘having its head in the clouds and its feet firmly on the ground.’ The ability to be both aspirational and down-to earth and to blend ground-breaking intellectual achievement with practical applications, has given the University its distinctive character.

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