Ever since I read Seeds of Blood and Beauty, a fascinating book about the preeminence of the early Scottish plant hunters, not to mention an abundance of untimely and sometimes intriguing deaths, I’ve been fascinated by these early pioneers of horticulture.
Many of the plants we take for granted in our gardens are not native species and the Explorer’s Garden tells the stories of these astonishing men who travelled the world and endured extreme hardships to bring us plants and trees for cultivation, commerce and conservation.
The garden is laid out representing areas of the world from where the species originated, along with storyboards shedding light on individual stories, travels and achievements.
It’s still pretty early in the season, and having just bagged two snow clad munroes (Ben Macdui and Cairngorm) the day before, I knew it wasn’t going to be at its best but it had been on my ‘to do’ list for so long I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit that our Easter weekend away presented.
The garden has a lovely feel to it and it’s quite a bit bigger than I’d been expecting. The volunteer on the gate was super-friendly, telling me where she’d seen red squirrels that morning and showing me where the first yellow meconopsis had just bloomed the day before (they host the National Meconopsis Plant Collection). There was also a lovely exhibition of photographs celebrating modern Scottish plant hunters in the pavilion.
Whilst it was still beautiful with plenty of points of interest, architecture and spots of colour I think that in a few weeks time this garden will be absolutely stunning – I really hope to be able to return again and see it then, although I suspect I would have to trade the pleasure and solitude of an out of season visit to be able to see it at its best. The red squirrels were a charming bonus.
A wee plug while I can – whilst you can visit any day (in season), the Explorer’s Garden are opening in aid of Scotland’s Garden Scheme on Sunday 2nd June, when it should be looking absolutely fabulous, so, if you fancy visiting it, please consider doing so on this day as the money raised does so much good for the charities being supported.