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Dawyck Botanic Garden

The garden at Dawyck, between Peebles and Biggar, is looking wonderful. The early rhododendrons have faded, but azaleas and later rhododenrons have taken over and provide plenty of colour. Swathes of bluebells replace daffodils, and in the meadow near the old chapel, where the last of the cowslips hang on to their blooms, wild orchids can be found in the grass – for now, only the new shoots and leaves, but there is plenty of colour up there in the form of male pheasants, strutting their stuff.

More Dawyck here

Ah… I almost forgot the beds of meconopsis – Himalayan blue poppies – that make gardeners in the south green with envy (and there isn’t much that grows well up here that won’t grow well down there).

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Rhododendrons and Dawyck

My photographs of plants never seem to do them justice, especially if I use a hand-held camera and then reduce the photo to fit a small space, like here. I am a bit of a softy for rhododendrons, for me they have something special. Over the years they have had a bad press, but only because of the crazy spreading habit of one particular variety, Rh.ponticum, which has become a bit of a thug.

Many of the rhododendrons at Dawyck Botanic Garden (an hour’s drive south of Edinburgh) are in now in bloom and are well worth a visit. The rhododendron in the photo is Rh.roxieanum and is a ‘high altitude rhododendron’. If you happen to be in China it can be found at between 3,000 to 4,500 metres. Alternatively, Dawyck is only at 220m. And there’s a very good cafe, which is something you’ll probably not come across at 4,000 metres in the Himalayas.

There are also these:

Whenever I see them my mind wanders to John Wyndham, and Triffids… though they didn’t scare the toddler who decided to get in amongst them and run about, to the anguish of his guardian (granny?) who apologised profusely. To me, not to the Triffids (and why to me?).

The Triffids’ real name is Lysichiton americanum. It is also known as Yellow Skunk Cabbage (easier to pronounce, but nowhere near as posh as its latin name).

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Fungus the Bogeyman*

No, I am not referring to Professor Roy Watling who led the fungus trip around Dawyck (pronounced Doyk), the Royal Botanic Gardens of Edinburgh’s Estate near Peebles the other day. He is certainly no bogeyman, though he is a superb teacher. Anyone who can get me interested in fungi other than edible mushrooms (strictly the kind you buy in the shops to cook at home) must be good.

I didn’t go on the trip because of any particular interest in toadstools, I simply wished to support local events and now I am hooked on them – that’s the local events, not the toadstools – I had no idea I could learn so much in such a short time with absolutely no effort. I don’t pretend to know the Latin names for any of these fungi any more than I managed to remember the names of fossils when I studied geology.

Since I went on the trip I am seeing toadstoods everywhere, though the likely reason for this is that Autumn is the time most of them appear (not a lot of people know that). Oh… for my readers in the USA (I have a few) I shall repeat that bit: “the reason for this is that Fall is the time most of them appear”. ‘Fall’ is a particularly descriptive name for this time of year.

The photos were taken at: TopWhitmuir Organics; Left – Dawyck; Bottom – my garden (growing in woodchip and looking suspiciously like an alien invasion).

Don’t ask me the names of any of these things. There are plenty of good books that will tell you. Here’s a beauty.

* here

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