Royal Botanic Garden Expert’s Tips for a Green Garden

Green-fingered gardening enthusiasts are being given expert tips on how to make their gardens bloom while keeping water usage low.

Herbaceous Supervisor at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) Kirsty Wilson, who is also a BBC Beechgrove presenter, is supporting a drive with Scottish Water to remind homeowners of ways to be more environmentally friendly when it comes to gardening.

Kirsty said that although her ‘garden’ at RBGE is 70 acres, there are plenty of methods that people can adopt in their domestic setting to ensure they are not being wasteful with water.

Ensuring water resources are protected and waste reduced is a vital part of how Scottish Water is supporting sustainability, which is being highlighted during Climate Week.

One of the best tips is to water in the morning, which will allow plants to draw from water throughout the day, avoiding anything draining away overnight.

Kirsty said:

“We can train our plants to drink water slowly by giving them less water, which will actually encourage them to drink less. In essence, if you keep the glass half full, your plants will adapt and learn to drink more slowly.

“If we swap hoses for watering cans, we can save a lot of water – using a watering can slows the flow of water, meaning more water stays in your plant pot rather than running out of the base.”

People with gardens should avoid watering lawns and grass, as the average lawn will bounce back quickly after a burst of rainfall – which is still always likely in Scotland.

Kirsty, who has also worked at Highgrove House for HRH the Prince of Wales, RBGE’s royal patron, added:

“You can make your garden more environmentally friendly by installing a water butt – not only is rainwater better for your plans than mains tap water, it reduces pressure on drains during periods of heavy rain.

“If you don’t have space for a water butt, you can improve how well your soil holds water by adding organic materials like homemade compost, so when it does rain the soil retains more water.

“Water from your household is also ok to use, with care, on your outdoor plants – water from your kitchen, washing machine, baths or showers, is safe to use on most garden plants.”

RBGE is the latest to Join the Wave in supporting Scottish Water’s ‘Your Water Your Life’ campaign, which aims to encourage people to celebrate the country’s precious, natural resource – our Scottish tap water.

According to Kirsty and RBGE, gardens play an important role in preventing surface water from flooding urban areas. Green spaces soak up rain, whereas tarmac and paving can increase the amount of rainwater that runs off into street drains.

RBGE is also pioneering an experimental ‘Raingarden’ which is already proving to be helpful in understanding and planning strategies for coping with unpredictable weather.

Kirsty added:

“Longer dry periods followed by heavy downpours are particularly problematic in terms of maintaining plant health and avoiding localised flooding in gardens of all sizes.

“Lawns are simply not effective at soaking up or trapping excess water and the answer does not lie in resorting to concrete or paving. We need to develop different gardening practices. Replacing hard surfaces and grass areas with a mixed selection of herbaceous perennials and shrubs can capture water runoff and increase the wildlife and habitat value of the area. This is a model that can be picked up and adapted to suit the needs of any plot, large or small.”

Brian Lironi, Director of Corporate Affairs at Scottish Water, said:

“‘Your Water Your Life’ aims to highlight the importance of water in all of our lives, encouraging us to think about our water usage in a different way.

“Gardens and green spaces played a huge role in our lives during lockdown as a positive place and outlet for many of us to channel our energy. These tips show us how easy it is to keep our gardens green and beautiful while also being mindful of how much water we use.

“As we all strive to reduce the impact of all our activity on the environment and increase biodiversity, using water efficiently, saving it where we can and reducing waste, will really help.”

As Herbaceous Supervisor at RBGE, Kirsty is part of a globally important plant research and conservation horticulture institute, working at home and around the world to combat the impact of the climate emergency and biodiversity crisis.

Kirsty works with scientists and fellow horticulturists, outreach ranges from engaging with students and volunteers to her Beechgrove appearances, leading tours, writing articles, and inspiring citizens of Scotland to make changes for the better.

Galashiels turns on new top up water tap

The Scottish Borders’ first water refill tap has been unveiled in historic Galashiels.

The new tap will enable people to top up refillable water bottles and stay hydrated when out and about.

Local MSP Christine Grahame officially switched on the tap in the town’s Market Square along with Councillor Sandy Aitchison, Scottish Borders Council’s Executive Member for Sustainable Development.

The hi-tech tap, which digitally tracks water usage and records cost savings, is part of a nationwide campaign by Scottish Water which aims to get more people to carry a reusable bottle.

The Your Water Your Life also encourages people to drink tap water throughout the day to stay hydrated. It also highlights how drinking tap water saves money and protects the planet by not having to use disposable plastic bottles.

Ms Grahame said:

“I’m delighted to see the top-up tap opening in Galashiels, it’s a simple idea that has real benefits. Having a publicly accessible tap for drinking water means people have a free, healthy option if they find themselves thirsty whilst out and about.

“Importantly it also means people are less likely to buy drinks in single-use plastic bottles which will undoubtedly have a positive impact on our local environment.”

Councillor Aitchison urged people who lived, worked and visited the town to use the new refill tap and when he topped up his own bottle with water from it described the water as “delicious”. He also said he hoped more refill taps would be introduced across the Borders.

He said:

“I am delighted to see the launch of the Borders’ first Top Up Tap in Galashiels by Scottish Water.

“It is estimated that we consume resources as if we had three planets at our disposal. This is obviously not sustainable which is why we need to see more projects such as the Top Up Tap scheme to encourage less plastics to be used.

 “I would encourage local people to play their part by using this new facility responsibly which at the same time will help our local environment.”

This is the 25th top up tap installed by Scottish Water. It aims to deliver 70 public space water refill points across Scotland by the end of March 2021.

Scott Fraser, Regional Communities Manager at Scottish Water, said:

We want all of our customers to love their tap water – and to help us care for the environment that makes it available for us to use. 

“This new refill tap brings the supply of clear, fresh and great-tasting drinking water right to the heart of Galashiels for people who live in and visit this beautiful, historic Borders town.

“We are urging people to get into the habit of carrying a refill bottle and filling it with Scotland’s world class drinking water.”

Additional safety and cleaning measures have been put in place on this – and all – the refill taps as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. This includes additional deep-cleaning, disinfecting and maintenance including a special coating on the water button which stops any virus and bacteria being absorbed.


Young eco-warriors and environment campaigners helped launch Scottish Water’s new refill tap in the centre of North Berwick.

The state-of-the-art tap, the first to be installed in East Lothian, will allow people who live, work or visit the popular seaside town to top up with free water while out and about.  Located at the junction of Quality Street and High Street it tracks the amount of water used and equates this into the amount of plastic waste saved.

Youngsters from the town’s Law Primary School helped launch the new refill station and urged people to think about how they disposed of plastic to prevent pollution. The 11-strong group of pupils said:

“Like many young people we are worried about the amount of plastic being used and dumped, so this is a really clever idea which is much better for the environment than using plastic bottles.  It’s a great way to provide people with clean fresh Scottish water, especially if they are visitors to North Berwick who need to top up.”

The blue tap is part of Scottish Water’s Your Water, Your Life campaign which encourages more people to carry a refillable bottle and drink more tap water to stay hydrated, save money and help protect the local environment by reducing plastic waste.     

Environmental charity Fidra, which works to reduce plastic waste in the area, also welcomed the new refill tap. Senior Project Manager Dr Clare Cavers said:

“This is a great addition to North Berwick as a popular tourist destination and will encourage more residents and visitors to carry a refillable water bottle.  With present day concerns around plastic waste and single use, Fira is keen to see people ditch disposables and a move to reusable water bottles is a simple first step that everyone can take.”

Iain Gray, MSP for East Lothian, also attended the launch. He said:

“This new water top up tap will allow local people to refill their water bottles with high quality drinking water, which is not only good for their health but also for the environment by helping reduce reliance on single use plastic. I’m sure the tap will be an asset for the area and benefit local residents as well as the town’s many visitors and tourists.”

And Susan Davies, CEO of the Scottish Seabird Centre, said: 

“As a marine conservation and education charity, we welcome this move by Scottish Water to install a refill tap in North Berwick. Single use plastic pollution, including plastic water bottles, are causing huge problems for our marine wildlife and habitats across the globe. Initiatives that make it easier for people to make changes to their lifestyle, such as using reusable water bottles, are essential to help turn the tide on plastic pollution.”

Representatives from East Lothian Council and the North Berwick Coastal Area Partnership also helped launch the tap today when Scottish Water handed out metal refill bottles to passers-by.

Since the first tap was launched in Edinburgh 14 months ago, more than 55,000 litres of water have been drunk from the expanding collection of refill points – the equivalent of 167,000 standard 330ml single-use plastic bottles. East Lothian’s tap is the 21st to be installed – with dozens more planned Scotland-wide.

Scott Fraser, Corporate Affairs Manager at Scottish Water, said:

“North Berwick is a hugely popular seaside town – making it an ideal spot for one of our refill taps to help people who live, work and visit here top up on the go.”

Make Water Bottles Part of the Back to School Regime

Parents are being urged to give their kids an early lesson on the importance of keeping healthy and hydrated as part of their planning on the long-awaited return to school.

Scots health and nutrition expert Amanda Hamilton is supporting a drive by Scottish Water to ensure that every child’s back to school regime includes a reusable water bottle along with the standard new blazer, gym kit and pencil case.

As part of a family’s daily school regime, it is recommended to fill a pupil’s water bottle at home before getting to classes.

Amanda, a mother-of-two and best-selling author, said although parents should be encouraged at all times to educate their children about the benefits of water – but the start of the new school term, especially after the enforced lengthy shutdown of schools, is the perfect platform.

Amanda said:

“Ensuring children to have a regular water intake throughout the school day is a vital aspect to maintain good health and a healthy learning environment.

“It has been proven that through drinking water and staying hydrated children are more attentive and focused during lessons for longer periods of time.

“We are lucky to have safe and delicious water from the tap, we should all be making the most of it. For parents trying to wean kids off sugary drinks, it can help to add a slice or orange, lemon or even a sprig of mint to tap water for extra flavour.

“Like many families, in my home we do all we can do reduce the use of plastic. We’ve made it part of the daily routine to re-fill water bottles from the tap.

“By highlighting the benefits of a reusable water bottle and filling up from the tap, we are helping to instil in children the small daily habits that can make a big difference. The reality is that this is a message for all ages – so using a reusable water bottle is just as applicable for staff returning to workplaces too.”

The advice comes as Scottish Water continues to expand its ‘Your Water Your Life’ campaign which aims to encourage people to top up from the tap to benefit the environment, their health and their pocket.

Brian Lironi, Director of Corporate Affairs at Scottish Water, said: ‘Your Water Your Life’ aims to highlight the importance water plays in the lives of people across Scotland.

“Every child needs to be aware of the benefits of a reusable water bottle – and of just how easy it is to use one to top up with tap water and so continue to enjoy the benefits of our nation’s greatest natural asset.

“We’d always encourage parents and children to make sure they have a water bottle included as a key part of their back-to-school planning, in the same way as sorting out new trainers or a school bag.”

To encourage people to stay hydrated on the go, a network of Top up Taps is being installed by Scottish Water throughout the country. Nearly 30 taps are already sited – the first one being outside the Scottish Parliament – and the aim is to have 70 taps installed at public spaces by March 2021.   

Tea blend brews a perfect cuppa with Scotland’s tap water

As lockdown starts to lift, Scottish Water and a leading tea maker have teamed up to encourage the nation to make time for a perfect cuppa with family and friends.

Edinburgh-based independent whole leaf tea company eteaket has created a new blend designed to be enhanced by the qualities of the country’s soft tap water.

The company has joined the wave in supporting Scottish Water’s Your Water Your Life campaign, to celebrate our natural resource by reconnecting over a cuppa.

The collaboration has launched #CuppaTeaWithMe encouraging the country’s tea-drinkers to think about the person they’d most like to share a cuppa with as lockdown restrictions ease, share and tag them through social media. Although a virtual chat and a cuppa at the moment, hopefully we will reunite with wider friends and family in the near future.

People in Scotland drink more tea than elsewhere in the UK, which has increased to and average five cups per day from three during lockdown.*. Having a cuppa is synonymous with taking a breather, stepping back from the day and having a mindful moment of calm.

The unique loose-leaf tea has been inspired by combining our nation’s water with ancient traditional ingredients which can maximise the benefits of a soothing brew.

eteaket’s blend – named “Keep the Heid” – is a new take on a traditional black tea with Assam and Darjeeling carefully blended with floral heather and delicate Scottish meadowsweet to create a rich flavour which comes alive in the softness of Scotland’s tap water.

Brian Lironi, Director of Corporate Affairs at Scottish Water, said: “Whenever there is a crisis or the need to take comfort, you always think of making a cup of tea.

“Throughout the lockdown our priority has been to keep our customers water supplies running and to ensure they have water at their taps to use throughout the day.

“I’m sure there have been millions of cups of tea made over the time we have been in lockdown – so we’re glad to have played our part in that. We always encourage customers to only boil the water they need – it saves on energy which saves their pockets and of course saves Scotland’s precious natural resource.”

“But now we are starting to see restrictions lift, it seems the perfect time to look to connect with people we have missed seeing and to encourage everyone to embrace a #CuppaTeaWithMe. And what better way to do that than with a tea that has been blended to perfectly complement Scotland’s renowned tap water.”

“And of course, anyone can still support #CuppaTeaWithMe with whatever is their favourite cuppa choice – and be sure of a great brew – thanks as always to our great tasting water.”

Erica Moore, Founder and MD of Edinburgh-based eteaket, said they chose heather flowers and meadowsweet as both herbs are traditionally native to Scotland and don’t overpower the black tea.

She said: “I think it’s important to have a blend that is not too far removed from a ‘normal’ breakfast tea but with a nod to Scotland.

“The softness of Scottish water draws out the balance of subtle flavours in this exceptional blend of Assam and Darjeeling, sprinkled with heather and delicate meadowsweet.

“Heather flowers are reportedly traditionally brewed in an attempt to cleanse toxins from organs and relieve inflammatory pains and meadowsweet was held sacred by Celtic druids and is also reported to possibly have pain relieving properties – although obviously we can’t guarantee this tea will have health benefits.

“We are really pleased that at least 50% of the meadowsweet in this blend comes from a stunning tea garden in Scotland called Windy Hollow.

“We’re really excited at what we have created and love the idea that tea can play a big part in making us feel better as the lockdown restrictions lift.

“At eteaket we’ve always recognised the benefits of tea – and the routine of making tea – to help with our mental health.”

Scotland’s world-famous soft tap water has less than 60mg of calcium per litre and is widely regarded as better for brewing tea than hard water. Scotland water in particular has less calcium and a lower mineral content which makes for a more refined cup of tea, and allows the more subtle and delicate flavours in a blend to come through.

Aromatics also tend to dissolve more easily in soft water, largely because there is less limescale. This allows the delicate Darjeeling notes to shine through, without being overpowered by the deeper Assam taste – further layered by the subtle, floral heather balancing with the almond flavour of meadowsweet.


More on the Cuppa Tea with Me campaign

The blend has had an exclusive first tea tasting with a group of 12 of Scottish Water’s ‘Tea Tasters’, who have all given the blend a thumbs up.

The ‘Keep the Heid’ Limited Edition tea will be available to buy online at from 01 July 2020, at £7.95 for 100g.

Scottish Water’s Your Water Your Life campaign aims to encourage people to top up from the tap to benefit the planet, their health and their pocket. To celebrate our precious, natural resource.

Last year, the ‘Your Water Your Life’ campaign hit a significant milestone as they celebrated Scottish tap water becoming the first in the world to gain international approval for keeping teeth healthy.

Clear, fresh drinking water is known to help boost concentration levels with Scottish Water delivering more than one billion litres of water a day to customers.

NHS Choices recommend drinking six to eight glasses of water per day while people often mistake hunger for being thirsty, which means drinking water can help weight loss. Tea is often heralded as another healthy way to stay hydrated.

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