A celebration of Dundee’s favourite parks and green spaces
In the past, Dundee’s beautiful parks and outdoor spaces – including Baxter Park, Caird Park, Dawson Park and Lochee Park – were largely made possible by historical bequests from wealthy individuals with close links to the city. More recently, new developments such as the Green Circular Cycle Path, Riverside Nature Park, Slessor Gardens and the Urban Beach, plus a thriving collection of allotments and community gardens, continue to prioritise access to nature. The city currently holds seven Green Flag awards.
1. Beautiful Scotland – Gold Medal 2023
Bonnie Dundee is a Beautiful Scotland group, supported by Dundee City Council, that helps to brighten up Dundee’s environment. This group of committed volunteers has been awarded several Gold medals in the Beautiful Scotland Awards.
2. The Camperdown elm
In the mid-19th century, the Earl of Camperdown’s head forester replanted a young, contorted elm on the Camperdown estate which is still growing there today. However, by later grafting a cutting from this contorted tree to the trunk of a wych elm (Ulmus glabra), the earl’s gardener is thought to have cultivated the first weeping elm, called Ulmus glabra ‘Camperdownii’. This mushroom-shaped tree is still widely grown and propagated across the world.
3. Cherry trees
Every spring, local people and Japanese visitors flock to see the spectacular pink cherry blossom at Dawson Park in Broughty Ferry.
4. Swannie Ponds
Locally, Stobsmuir Ponds are known as ’Swannie Ponds’, thanks to the swans who live there.
5. Barnhill Rock Garden
This beautiful park is located close to Broughty Ferry beach, on what was once the ancient shore-line.
6. The ‘lemon’ tree
The original ‘lemon’ tree was created by Tay Bridge toll workers who, each spring, hung plastic Jif lemons on a nearby tree. This practical joke persisted until 1993 when the tree, to the west of the old toll booths, was felled in response to safety concerns. In 2016, a successful comeback campaign coincided with the road bridge’s 50th anniversary, when the ‘lemon’ tree was re-created on a different tree.
7. Madonna lilies
The City of Dundee’s coat of arms includes a pot of Madonna lilies (Lilium candidum) to represent St Mary, the city’s first patron saint.
8. The River Tay
The River Tay is the longest river in Scotland, at approximately 117 miles (190km). It begins as a tiny spring in the Highlands, and by the time it reaches Dundee, it’s almost 2 miles wide. Dolphins and seals can often be spotted in the Firth of Tay, where the river meets the North Sea.
9. University of Dundee Botanic Garden
An important centre for horticultural research and education, attracting more than 80,000 visitors a year.
10. The Miley
This urban nature reserve follows part of the old railway route between Dundee and Newtyle, one of the first passenger-carrying railways in Scotland. The Miley runs from Lochee to Clepington Road, skirting the playing fields of St John’s High School. The route is a haven for songbirds from March to October, and wildflowers and butterflies in summer, including the small tortoiseshell and the red admiral.
11. Riverside Nature Park
Highland cattle are an unexpected sight in a coastal city like Dundee. But for decades, these mighty beasts grazed in fields adjacent to Riverside Nature Park – a beautiful space created from Dundee’s old landfill site. While the cattle have now gone, many species of native birds and insects can be seen or heard while walking and cycling through the park.
12. Bats at sunset
Favourite sites for bats in Dundee include the city’s parks and graveyards.
13. Templeton Woods
Located just outside the city, Templeton Woods currently holds a Green Flag award and supports roe deer, buzzards and red squirrels.
14. The Law
The Dundee Law sits at the heart of the city and, at 175m (572 feet) high, it’s a prominent feature on the local skyline. Formed by volcanic activity around 400 million years ago, the Law was used as an Iron Age hill fort and prehistoric graves dating to about 1500 BC have been uncovered on its slopes. Today, you can see for up to 45 miles in all directions on a clear day.