The Coffee Show Garden

The Coffee Garden won a Gold medal, Best in Show and the People’s Choice Award at Gardening Scotland 31st May – 2nd June 2019

Designed by Kirsty Wilson and constructed by the RBGE Diploma in Garden Design students.


Coffee is one of the world’s favourite drinks, one of the most important commercial crop-plants, and the second most valuable international commodity. Everyone loves coffee and it is one of life’s greatest pleasures. However many people have forgotten the home of coffee and that it is originally from a plant. Although there are 125 species of coffee, we only actually use two species to produce the popular beverage Coffea arabica and Coffea robusta.

Many plantations are based on one plant meaning low genetic diversity, which means they have low tolerance to pests and diseases. Our climate is changing and this could directly affect coffee production in the future. This is why monitoring, and studying plants is vital to our survival on earth – without plants there is no life. This show garden reflects the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh’s mission to educate people about plants, connecting people with nature and making a positive impact on the world.

At a time when climate change is arguably the most pressing of global challenges, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) is working with partners at home and abroad to address the central issue of worldwide plant conservation. RBGE’s work involves protecting plant species before they disappear and monitoring the situation to understand the speed with which their habitats are changing.

RBGE is currently conducting work in Colombia as it is one of the most biodiverse countries on earth. Practically every kind of ecosystem can be found within its borders. Colombia is one of the world’s greatest coffee-producing nations, selling US $2.64 billion around the world each year.  RBGE Colombia aims to study the biogeography evolution and conservation of Colombian biomes. Field expeditions are being conducted in close collaboration with local communities and researchers in areas of Paramo, mountain forest, cloud forest, dry forest and lowland rain forest. This garden highlights RBGE’s outreach abroad and highlights the institutions impact on explaining and exploring the world of plants for a better future.




The colour theme for the garden is bitter chocolate, lime green and soft apricot – inspiration taken from the shades of the fruit from the Coffea plant which contains the valuable coffee beans.



The Garden’s message

  • Highlights RBGE’s work in terms of education, research and conservation to the public visiting the show.

  • Connects people with nature and the importance of plants affecting our daily lives.

  • Highlights the threats to coffee production and other plant life globally from climate change and habitat loss.

  • Promotes the purchasing of environmentally friendly and fair trade coffee and the sustainable use of coffee cups.

  • Displays that RBGE is at the forefront of the battle to save the planet through its work both at home and abroad.




Plant List for the Coffee Garden: 

Acer ‘Bloodgood’

Acer ‘Senkaki’

Actaea simplex ‘Brunette’

Actaea simplex ‘Pink Spike’

Aquilegia ‘Black Barlow’

Aquilegia vulgaris ‘William Guiness’

Carex testacea

Deschampsia flexuosa ‘Tatra Gold’

Dryopteris wallichiana

Euphorbia characias ssp. Characias ‘Humpty Dumpty’

Geum ‘Alabama Slammer’

Geum ‘Flames of Passion’

Geum ‘Tequila Sunrise’

Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’

Heuchera ‘Binoche’

Heuchera ‘Black Sea’

Heuchera ‘Caramel’

Heuchera ‘Green Spice’

Heuchera ‘Lime Marmalade’

Heuchera ‘Sweet Tea’

Hosta ‘Empress Wu’

Hosta fortunei var. albopicta f. aurea

Hosta ‘Summer Dress’

Iris ‘Kent Pride’

Libertia ‘Grasshopper’

Mathiaosella bulpeuroides ‘Green Dream’

Paeonia ‘Coral Charm’

Paeonia ‘Pink Hawaiian Coral’

Pistia stratiotes

Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Amber Jubilee Jelfam’

Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diabolo’

Sambucus ‘Milk Chocolate’


The  plants for the design were sourced from:

Binny Plants, Mac Plants, Caulders & McLaren’s Nursery









Published by

Kirsty Wilson

Horticulture is my inspiration! I am the Herbaceous Supervisor at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. Photographer, Award winning Garden Designer, BBC Beechgrove Garden Television Presenter & BBC Radio 4 GQT Panellist. I want to inspire people to grow plants, connect with nature and have a positive impact on the world.

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