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By Sandy Leven

'Sure by Tummel and Loch Rannoch and Lochaber I will go……'

Ben Vrackie from The Plant Collectors garden

Pilochry Dam created Loch Fascally

This new garden promises to be a Mecca for plant enthusiasts. Here the people who collected the plants and the countries in which they collected are reunited with these plants in the different garden areas. There will be an area dedicated to the collections of each of the main Scottish Plant Collectors. Grouping the plants by their collector will define the garden. We have all visited gardens with special borders. They may have red borders, white borders or yellow borders. The plants may be in Botanical beds in which all the plantings are members of the same family. Most gardeners group plants according to their needs, whether that is for moist or dry conditions, for sunny well-drained areas or for woodland conditions. Others plant in a manner pleasing to their own eye. In none of these is the country of origin and the Plant Collector given any thought. If the Collectors were composers and the plants the music, our gardens are the horticultural equivalent of 'The Last Night of the Proms'. Pitlochry will be different. It will far more harmonious, with its collector and country of origin themes constantly recurring and intertwining all through the garden. Because of its constraints, the planting will be much more difficult then normal for a large 'public' garden.

Entrance gate

As you climb the entrance path you see above you the novel entrance gate which is shaped as a sailors' compass with North pointing to magnetic North. This puts South on your left as you enter. Roofing the galvanised steel and wood structure is a canvas 'sail' reminding us of the sailing ships which the early explorers had to travel on.

One of the Performance Areas

Another purpose of the garden is to compliment the programme of the famous Pitlochry Theatre. Special performance areas have already been built in the garden. Here music and theatre are performed in the open air. On the evening of our visit there was to be church service for the community. Carefully sited throughout the garden are various sculptures and artistic structures.

Foxgloves by Morag Cumming, presented by The heart of Scotland Herb society

We were privileged to have been guide round the garden by Julia Corden, who has been given the daunting task of bringing the garden to fruition. She described the different areas and enthused about the planting which was about to get underway in earnest. Most areas already have a few plants representing their collectors but at present what one can most appreciate is the hard landscaping, buildings, performance areas and paths.

Southern Hemisphere area dedicated to Francis Masson and Archibald Menzies. Soon there will be Monkey puzzle trees growing here!

As you follow the path you will walk round the world. Starting in Australia and New Zealand, South Africa and South America, then the rest of America, followed by the Himalaya and then to China and Japan. It seems that, in the main, each Plant Collector specialised in one area of the World!

Phormiums from New Zealand collected by David Lyall

The list of Collectors is formidable. Francis Masson, Archibald Menzies, David Lyall, David Douglas, Sir George Taylor and George Sherriff [sadly separated from Frank Ludlow, who wasn't Scottish!] and Thomas Thomson have plaques already. Modern Collectors such as Peter and Kenneth Cox and Ron MacBeath have contributed to the garden but I could see no plaque dedicated to them at present.

A Wood sculpture by ZDRAVKO JOCSIMOVIC

The following pictures will take you on a tour of the garden as we saw it on Sunday 24th September 2003. We were thrilled to see the start of great adventure in Scottish Horticulture. We will return in the spring and regularly after that. I hope you will be too! The David Douglas Pavilion must the most aesthetic and spectacular new building in Scotland.

The David Douglas Pavilion is constructed in Douglas fir. [Pseudosugamenziesii]

The David Douglas Pavilion roof withits geometrically perfect shingles.

Julia Corden and Anne Leven sitting on the balcony of the David Douglas Pavilion

The Sugar Pine [Pinus lambertii] Cone in David Douglas Pavilion presented to the garden by Vancouver National Historic Reserve Trust, Vancouver, Washington USA

The bridge linking 'The Douglas area' with 'The Himalayan area'

The bridge linking 'The Douglas area' with 'The Himalayan area'

The MOON GATE. A supreme example of the dry-stane dyker's skill

The dry-stane seating area


Meconopsis grandis planted in front of a dry-stane dyke. The plants were grown locally by Susan

Looking from the David Douglas Pavilion down to China

PEDESTAL by Colin Wright provides a perch for a young robin who does not realise that his post is a work of modern art.

The path after gently winding its way up and down, long the hillside returns to the 'Southern Hemisphere area' where Red Hot pokers [knifophias] grow. Collected in South Africa by David Masson

Ben Vrackie and an artistic seat

This will be the garden through which we can begin to understand the debt, which all gardeners in Scotland and beyond owe to the brave men [most seem to have been men!] who travelled at the edge of the known world, to look for and bring back new plants for our gardens and whose tree collections laid the foundations of industrial forestry throughout Europe and beyond.

Pitlochry sits in the middle of Scotland's most beautiful countryside. It is famous for its hydro-electric dam and Fish Ladder, on the River Tummel, a tributary of the River Tay. The area was made internationally famous by Harry Lauder's song

'The Road to the Isles'…… 'Sure by Tummel and Loch Rannoch and Lochaber I will go……'

The A9 from Perth to Inverness runs thro' Pitlochry. The SCOTTISH PLANT COLLECTORS GARDEN is well signposted. There is a nice café in the adjacent Pitlochry Theatre. Enjoy your visit

Schiehallion and Loch Rannoch

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