One of the special memories that we brought back from our June visit to Scotland was an afternoon spent at Shepherd House Garden in the small village of Inveresk, just outside of Edinburgh. This is a small private garden that sparkles with personality. Every aspect shows the care and attention that Charles and Ann Fraser have invested over the years.
We were fortunate to have Charles walk about in the garden with us as we toured the different garden ‘rooms’ within the 17th century walls. They have about an acre over all but it is intensively gardened so that it seems even larger as I look back on my pictures. Every year they take on another project to enhance their landscape, from the stone-walled potting shed to the artistic stone bench.
If you find yourself anywhere near Shepherd House Garden you need to add it to your itinerary. Bear in mind that it is only open for limited times each week andIt would be best to check with their website directly.
I am setting new records for delayed Bloom Day postings. Unfortunately I was on travel once again for the Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day event which should be on the 15th of the month. Nonetheless I will use this post to sum up the state of flowering in the garden as I find it useful to see what changes from year to year. For instance I note that we are still well behind last year when the crocosmia were well into their bloom and only just budding up right now.
First the new items…
I’ve now gotten the first blooms from the Roscoeas. I planted both Roscoea purpurea and cautleoides from Thimble Farms this spring. The latter got knocked over by a rabbit or squirrel so I didn’t get the full bloom, but the purpurea came through just fine.
This ginger relative makes a bright statement with rich green foliage.
I also put in a new Agapanthus from Plant Delights as part of my foray to the south this spring.
The resulting plant stands almost 4 feet tall and has deep purple flowers, much nicer than the average Agapanthus.
Finally from Far Reaches I acquired a pure yellow Toad Lily that has just come into flower, probably a bit early because of the greenhouse.
I need to find a good shade spot for this little gem.
Beyond those newcomers there are all the standard pleasures of this time of year, dominantly annuals and lilies.
This last had definite signs of virus so I’ve yanked it out. The cluster was over 9 feet tall and vigorous but I can’t afford to have virus spread to the other lilies. I’ve just ordered Spuria Iris to take that place for next year.
So that’s a brief summary of the state of the art around Ball Rd. I hope to get more organized by next month’s GBBD posting. In the meantime you should journey over to May Dreams Gardens to see what others have posted.
The highlight of our trip to Scotland in early June was a visit to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.
The garden comprises over 70 acres in easy walking distance of the Stockbridge neighborhood that we were staying in.
The RBGE dates back to the 17th century but is impressively modern in its approach to preserving the botanical world. This is not where you go to see the latest hybrids for the garden but it is very much where you go to see how to grow an incredibly wide variety of species in environments that resemble their native ecological niche. Along with their annexes in three other Scottish locations (Benmore, Dawyck, and Logan) they maintain 7% of the worlds plant species. And they do it in a way that is wonderful to look at. The grounds are free to enter and wander in, but I highly recommend the tour by an expert guide. Ours was full of detailed comments about the plantings. In addition to a large professional staff we saw many interns and volunteers, with multiple projects under construction.
This is a living breathing garden and the enthusiasm of the staff was palpable.
The centerpiece is probably the glasshouses. They have probably the tallest glass house in the world housing their temperate palms (72 ft high).
There are 25 glass houses in all and about 1/2 of those are open to visitors for a modest fee. The design is unusual from the outside but it maximizes the light that penetrates to the plants.
They are extensively interwoven with audio tour spots where you can hear the person responsible for that collection speak with such enthusiasm about the plants. Don’t miss the example under the South Africa Greenhouse below.
Listen to this wonderful description of South Africa’s Plants. SouthAfricaaudio
Outside I was overwhelmed by the new Alpine House that has been constructed with a state-of-the-art tufa wall.
Tufa is a particular form of limestone that is almost fibrous in nature and it is known to provide excellent growing conditions for small clumping alpine plants such as Dionysia, Primula, Draba, and Saxifraga. The intent is to provide a wider range of growing conditions than they have been able to provide with their conventional Alpine House that offered damp shelter and partial shading. The tufa wall has air circulation, snow cover, and a water circulation system behind it to wick the water to the plants as needed. They are only just to point of planting out this new environment so it will be very interesting to see how it develops.
Of course the existing Alpine House, cold frames, troughs, and rock walls provide lots of interesting plants as well.
In a completely different area of the garden there is an extensive dedicated area for rock garden enthusiasts, with miniature mountains and water features.
A constant are the Blue Poppies which grow as well in Scotland as in their native environment.
And Rhododendrons are also a big feature of the gardens.
They are everywhere and very large. They’ve been growing there for over a hundred years. They have been historically a big part of the plant explorations. Including even tropical Rhododendrons under glass. There are 700 of the 1000 species in the world growing in the various parts of the National Botanic Garden.
We ended up joining the RGBE. When you see what they are doing and how they are working with countries around the world to establish botanic gardens in places like Turkey, Nepal, and Columbia how can you not want to support them?