Donaldson’s, Edinburgh

Donaldson's, Edinburgh

Case study

Johnsons helps iconic listed building’s transformation into one of Scotland’s most prestigious residential schemes


One of our long-standing customers asked us to supply plants worth more than £125,000 for the transformation of an iconic Scottish listed building into one of the most sought-after residential developments in Edinburgh.



Situated on the outskirts of Edinburgh, the former Donaldson’s Hospital is one of the city’s grandest and most recognisable buildings. It was originally opened as a hospital for poor and vulnerable children in 1851 by Queen Victoria, who at the time commented that the it was even more splendid than some of her own palaces.

It has also served the community as a school and has even been mooted as an ideal home for the Scottish parliament, but by 2008 the hospital had fallen into disrepair and remained empty for a decade.

Developer City and Country is currently converting the building into luxury apartments, with prices ranging from £250,000 to £1,625,000. An outstanding feature of the development is that it sits amid 16 acres of private landscaped parkland, with formal parterres, sweeping lawns and mature trees. Landscaping has also taken place in the chapel garden, morning and afternoon terrace, the park, the courtyard and parterre terrace.

Our customer, landscaping expert p1 Solutions, required thousands of plants to help restore the grounds to their former glory. “Given that some of the apartments in the development are on the market for over £1 million,” said p1 Director Richard McMonagle, “the quality of the landscaping and plants had to reflect this. Therefore, we turned to Johnsons who have again played a key part in helping us achieve our objectives.”



Our supply of plants started in 2017 and has been worth over £125,000 to date, with varieties including 5,000 rootball Buxus (Box) for formal parterres, over 400 Taxus (Yew) rootballs for formal hedging, 7,000 shrubs and herbaceous plants, 83 trees, including 42 which were pleached specimens, and a large number of topiary boxed balls.



The glorious gardens are an essential part of the sympathetic restoration of this historically important building, which has been renamed The Playfair after its original architect William Playfair. Residents of the 110 new homes can enjoy landscaped parkland befitting an iconic listed building.

p1 Contractors Ltd
Edinburgh, Scotland
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