The red rose is the plant badge of the Clan Erskine, who originate from land on the south bank of the river Clyde which was originally held by Henry de Erskine in the reign of Alexander II (1198-1249).
Famous members of the Clan include Ebenezer Erskine (1680-1754) a minister who founded the Secession Church and Robert Erskine (1677-1718) who became Chief Physician to Peter the Great, Tsar of all the Russias. He also founded the first physic garden in St Petersburg in 1714.
Thomas Alexander Erskine 6th Earl of Kellie (1732-1781) was affectionately known as 'Fiddler Tam' for his prowess as a musician and a composer. His surviving symphonies and other works show an impressive range of styles and depth of expression. As his work is being rediscovered many consider it to be on a par with that of Haydn. 'Fiddler Tam' was also a bon viveur and a founder of the infamous Edinburgh drinking group known as the Capillaire Club which met on Sunday! Unusually he was also simultaneously Grand Master of both the Scottish and the English Freemasons.
The office of Lord Lyon King of Arms whose court is in New Register House adjacent to the garden has previously been held by three Earls of the Clan Erskine including Sir Alexander Erskine of Cambo (1623-1727) who was imprisoned for his support of the Jacobite cause.
Rosa rubiginosa is also known as the Sweet Briar rose.