Royal Edinburgh Hospital

Find out more about the Green Health projects and activities that are taking place on site

At the Royal Edinburgh Hospital (REH), we recognise the link between improved mental health and access to the natural world.

The hospital sits on a 50.45 acre (20.5 hectare) site in Morningside Place, Edinburgh and is managed by NHS Lothian. It is an important asset and resource for the patients, staff and the local community. The REH has existed as a psychiatric hospital since 1813 and is an interesting collection of different aged buildings and scattered greenspaces. There is a vibrant Green Health programme at this site and the hospital community is involved in many different NHS Lothian Charity: Green Health activities.

REH was the first NHS site in Scotland to gain the Green Flag Award, highlighting the collaboration between hospital community (patients, staff and visitors) and Third Sector partners. We created a Green Health Management plan for the site.

Explore the Royal Edinburgh Hospital

  • Community Gardens by Cyrenians – Our Community Gardens grow food, build communities and improve health and wellbeing.
  • Glasshouses Gardens and Creative Hub by Artlink – A space for creative collaboration between artists, patients and staff
  • The Parkland – Open to all, the the southern large grassy open area is interspersed with large mature specimen trees, including Cedars, Acers and Willows.
  • The REH Orchard – An historic orchard containing some of the oldest specimen fruit trees in Scotland
  • Courtyard Garden – A tranquil space in heart of Mackinnon House for staff and patients
  • Therapeutic Patient Spaces – Both new and old areas of the hospital have courtyards and gardens designed to support access to outdoor spaces and nature based activities.
REH site map by Andy Archer
REH site illustration by Andy Archer

What’s happening on site

Alexander McCall Smith at 2022's Spring FlingCelebrating the great outdoor spaces of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, Summer Sessions offers an exciting programme of workshops and events for patients and staff. Enjoy activities ranging from an Alexander McCall Smith reading to a performance by the Bamberger Brass Quintet. Click to see the full calendar of events. Learn more

All ability path at Royal Edinburgh Hospital, improving access to the Community Gardens We were thrilled to have completed the new all ability path to the Community Gardens – and this is just the start. We are working with partners on site to put some benches along the path and get patients involved in doing some planting. This project delivered improvements to the paths and ground flora in the woodland along the southern boundary of the site.

Staff and volunteers working in the Oasis Garden at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital

Volunteers and Charity staff collaborated on enhancing the Oasis Garden located by the glazed corridor next to the broch.

Their efforts included painting the building, installing planters and spreading wood chippings on the ground. These improvements not only add aesthetic appeal but also contribute to create a welcoming and tranquil space for patients, visitors, and staff alike. Through their dedication and hard work, the volunteers and charity staff have significantly improved the environment surrounding the Oasis Garden.


Nature-inspired mural by Natasha RusselThe Art Box at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital has been filled with colourful artwork created by patients during a series of workshops with artist Natasha Russell.

During the workshop patients worked from references and imagination, to create artwork linked to plants, nature, insects and birds. Exploring ideas for what they would like to see in the mural.

These ideas have now been brought to life as a beautiful nature-inspired mural by the glasshouses, painted by Natasha, alongside staff and patients. This is more than just adding some colour to the hospital grounds, it is also about creating an environment that lifts spirits and aids in the journey to recovery.

Andy Archer artwork in the grounds of the Royal Edinburgh HospitalAs part of a move to create a more inviting atmosphere for patients, staff and visitors at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, we’ve teamed up with a local artist, Andy Archer, to create a series of hand-drawn illustrative artworks celebrating the site. These artworks highlight the green spaces and charity partners connected to the Royal Edinburgh Hospital.

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Courtyard Garden at Mackinnon House with a sign saying growing places

The courtyard project at Mackinnon House has transformed this hospital space into a vibrant accessible area. Thanks to the work of the hospital community, The Conservation Volunteers, and Volunteer Edinburgh the revitalised space is now widely utilised by both staff and patients.

The initiative involved painting tables, benches and sheds blue, planting new greenery, creating signs for the growing spaces, and adding a little library, enriching the hospital experience for all who use the space.

Bespoke garden quilts designed by Laura Spring for patients

These vibrant and unique quilts have been created in collaboration with artist Laura Spring. Through this project, the custom quilts help patients enjoy outdoor spaces regardless of the weather conditions. The quilts not only meet stringent fire and health safety regulations but have also been specifically designed for use in all hospital wards, enhancing the patient experience and allowing individuals to fully embrace the outdoors.

Map for REH greenspace management plan show different areas of greenspace

The Greenspace Management Plan aims to recognise the site’s successes but also identify areas for improvement. It is hoped this project will pave the way for other NHS sites to follow suit based on its successes and learning and perhaps result in more Green Flags at NHS sites.

Staff and volunteers in IPCU courtyard

The IPCU courtyard improvement project, undertaken in collaboration with The Conservation Volunteers and the hospital community at REH, aimed to enhance the outdoor space for patients.

Installing raised beds, allows patients to participate in gardening activities, making it more accessible for those on the wards. This project not only improves the look of the courtyard but also creates a therapeutic environment, promoting physical activity and engagement among patients during their recovery process.

Community Gardens at REHThis three year project, funded by NHS Lothian Charity and led by the Cyrenians, aimed to establish a sustainable person-centred green health activity pathway at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. The therapeutic activities supported the patient community to use the community gardens and associated greenspace to improve their health and wellbeing.

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News from the Royal Edinburgh Hospital

Cyrenians at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital

January 12, 2023

New Funding Award Eases The Journey To Recovery For Pa…

NHS Lothian Charity: Green Health is delighted to have awarded Cyrenians 3 years of funding to provide vital support to […]

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September 21, 2023

Royal Edinburgh Hospital Sets a Green Standard for Sco…

The Royal Edinburgh Hospital continues its legacy of environmental excellence by becoming the first hospital in Scotland to receive the […]

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Discover walking routes from the hospital with the Go Jauntly

Find new walking tours based on your location. Simple photo guides help you navigate while nifty tips point out things of interest. Sign up to walking challenges or enjoy green routes from A to B or circular walking routes. Take pics, add details that other people may find useful and share with the growing community.

4 people walking along a path holding tea mugs

Our Partners

As well as the NHS Lothian Grounds and Gardens team on site and the NHS Lothian Charity Green Health Manager, we work with Third Sector partners to achieve our strategic goals:

Other organisations who contribute to the REH community, but who aren’t based on site include: TCV, ELGT, Branching Out. Much of the work that is done by these partners on site is funded through NHS Lothian Charity or NHS Lothian/Royal Edinburgh Hospital and Associated Services (REAS).

Wildlife Gallery

If you have a nature photograph taken in the grounds of the hospital that you would like to see posted on our website, send it to us by email, (the maximum image size is 2MB) and we’ll add it to our Gallery.

Join our Green Health network

Sign up and get involved in the enhancement and maintenance of the green spaces at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital.