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General Subjects => Blogs and Diaries => Topic started by: Cruickshank Friend on January 18, 2013, 08:07:46 PM

Title: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on January 18, 2013, 08:07:46 PM
The Cruickshank Botanic Garden is situated in the medieval burgh of Old Aberdeen on the King's College campus of the University of Aberdeen and is a partnership between the University and the Cruickshank Charitable Trust.  The Garden is in a sheltered situation between St. Machar's Cathedral and King's College, about 1 mile from the sea, with relatively mild winters and not much frost.

  "For the teaching and study of Botany as pure science, and as applied to the Arts and Industries, and for the furtherance of University interests and the public good."
 Deed of Trust, 26th April 1898.


It was founded in 1898 with a bequest  and land from Miss Anne Cruickshank, given in memory of her brother Dr Alexander Cruickshank. Their father had been Regius Professor of Mathematics in the University. The original Deed of Trust specified that the Garden was to be 'for the furtherance of University interests and the public good'. The Garden is true to its origins, and provides an educational resource both for University students and for the thousands of schoolchildren who visit the Natural History Centre, as well as a wonderful amenity for staff, students and the general public.


This beautiful and peaceful  eleven  acre Garden offers year round interest to visitors.
The garden comprises: a sunken garden with alpine lawn, a rock garden built in the 1960s complete with waterfalls and pond system, a long unbroken herbaceous border, a formal rose garden with drystone walling, and an arboretum. It has a large collection of flowering bulbs and rhododendrons,
 and many unusual shrubs and trees.  It is sometimes known as The Secret Garden of Old Aberdeen. (


The Cruickshank Botanic Garden is an internationally important collection of plants, a valuable educational resource, and part of the heritage of the University and City of Aberdeen.
The Garden, which is open to the public free of charge, exists to promote an appreciation of the beauty, diversity and importance of plants, and an understanding of their role in the natural world
and is  dedicated to understanding and conserving our natural world.


The Friends of the Cruickshank Botanic Garden were established in 1982 to provide a forum for those 'interested in the well-being of the Garden'. The Friends provide support for the Garden in kind, through volunteering and acting as advocates for the Garden, and financially, by the purchase of equipment and plants.  A wide range of events is organised for members during the year and Friends receive a quarterly newsletter and an annual seed list.
They also fund summer student placements and the Friends Horticulture Bursary.  The recipient of that Bursary for 2009-2010 was SRGC member Kate Barnard – who previously had been awarded an SRGC Grant for a placement at Dunedin Botanic Garden in New Zealand - (


Botanic Gardens are at risk everywhere as University budgets become tighter  - this thread, dedicated to the Botanic Garden of the University in Aberdeen, is intended as a tribute to the work of those running these gardens, those from outside who volunteer to support such gardens and as an example of what is available in the form of such gardens and how different groups can combine to  offer mutual support.
Contributions for a similar thread for other Botanic Gardens around the world are more than welcome.
Regular readers of the Forum will be aware that we have among our number a former gardener at the Cruickshank, Roma Fiddes  and the Garden Notes here have been contributed to the newsletters of the Friends of the Cruickshank Botanic Garden by David Atkinson  from Aberdeenshire,  who has , in the past, served both as the Convenor of the SRGC Aberdeen Group and the President of the FCBG.
We thank  David Akinson, the Committee of the FCBG and Mark Paterson, Curator of the Garden for their support.

Some photos by courtesy of the CBG/FCBG website.
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on January 18, 2013, 08:11:23 PM
David Atkinson's Garden Notes - reports of what takes his eye as  he walks around the CBG- begin in Winter 2009.....

Cruickshank Garden Notes - December 2009

So here we are after a white Christmas - everyone’s dream - with the ground hard frozen, slithering around in a winter wonderland, thinking more of scraping windscreens, clearing tracks and jump starting cars than hands on horticulture. Hopefully the gift exchange frenzy has brought, at the very least, some new gardening books to inspire and inform next year’s activities.

Until our current wintry blast, the descent towards the shortest day, though wet, had been very gentle with few frosts.  Deeside in particular had beautiful autumn colours, grass continued to grow and a number of what are usually winter flowerers bloomed weeks earlier than normal;  Mahonia ‘Charity’, Viburnum x bodnantense and Winter jasmine, Jasminum nudiflorum, were all in flower in October, Witchhazel buds were showing yellow well before Christmas and the foliage of spring bulbs was, possibly unwisely, in evidence far earlier than usual.
Snow has a very neatening, unifying effect on the landscape, covering blots and blemishes, softening shapes and making the effect of humans less pronounced, so on the wintry day I visited the Cruickshank Garden. Between swirling snow showers it appeared more of a sculpture park than busy garden, work done and undone both invisible under the ample white blanket; very calm and strangely quiet, the sound of the traffic somehow deadened by the snow.  Thus it was really the overall effects that struck me more than individual plants, though even in the snow the benefits of strong structural evergreens - like the many hollies and for instance the Japanese umbrella pine, Sciadopitys verticillata, came to the fore.  Similarly the red peeling bark of the excellent Acer griseum provided a pleasing shock of colour in the monochrome scene.

Photo of Sciadopitys verticillata by Trond Hoy

Enjoy the elegant weeping foliage of the large Juniperus recurva var coxii - the coffin juniper - dominating the eastern end of the sunken garden. Don’t bother to try the fruit of the medlar, Mespilus germanicus in the bed to the left of the shrub border by the boundary wall, as although reputedly edible when softened by frost – bletted - I remain to be convinced!  Another shrub whose very name warns off potential nibblers, the Killarney strawberry tree, Arbutus unedo, can be seen in fine flower with masses of small white bells in the shrub border against the warm brick wall, whilst further along Mahonia x media ‘Charity’ is still exhibiting its spikes of yellow flowers.  The winter grey-green catkins of the evergreen Garrya elliptica can already be seen by the entrance to the rock garden, where the story is in general of future promise rather than current display; the furry flower buds of Magnolia wilsonii, in the bed at the bottom of the slope, showing it will yet again carry a fine crop of its elegant pendant flowers.

So a slippy, chilly drive home to enjoy the illusion of order provided by snow cover and to bask in glow of as yet unbroken resolutions to stay on top of the garden work next year!
                              David Atkinson
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on January 19, 2013, 12:16:30 PM
Cruickshank Garden Notes         Spring 2010

The snow seems finally to have gone.  It feels as though we had a very long January and suddenly spring is springing up all around and grass cutting is just around the corner.  Out at Craigievar- in the Arctic zone- the snow came a week before Christmas, and apart from a brief thaw in mid February only left in mid March leaving behind a fair amount of death and destruction.  The low temperatures have seen off a number of old friends - sages, rosemary, a buddleia or two, a Daphne bholua looking sick and many more.  But more striking this winter is the physical damage caused by the sheer weight of the snow, particularly in the absence of wind to blow it off plants and other structures.  The tally here includes two lean-to greenhouses, various gutters and a now ‘M’ shaped polytunnel, plus of course numerous broken branches, split shrubs and so on.

St. Machar Cathedral, from the Chanonry

However let us return to our nascent spring and a bright if chilly morning in the Cruickshank garden.  In many locations in the garden at the moment it is of course spring bulbs which catch the eye, from the snowdrops on the lawn just inside the Chanonry gate, to the patches of iris and cyclamen in the rock garden. Viburnum x bodnantense and Hammamelis spp must be about the most reliable winter flowering shrubs and deserve to be in any thinking person’s garden - situated near the house, otherwise their blooming may pass unnoticed in the depth of winter.  One of the above viburnum’s parents, Viburnum farrerii  is still in flower in the recently cleared bed next to the Chanonry entrance, near a Hammamelis mollis ‘Pallida’, still brightening the garden with its pale yellow scented flowers - the first of number in flower around the garden.

The normally robust New Zealand daisy bush, Olearia macrodonta, in the signpost bed in front of the Cruickshank Building, is showing signs of winter damage with crisped leaves and dead shoots, as is the slightly tender Rubus lineatus - a lovely foliage plant with leaves silvery and silky underneath - despite its warm position in a bed beside the building.   However the winter flowering Iris unguicularis, nestling at the foot of the building has still managed to produce a respectable display of large pale purple flowers.  On the other side of the path in front of the Auris building the branches of the excellent wide spreading flowering cherry, Prunus ‘Moerheimii’ are covered in swelling buds as is its neighbour and relative an unnamed small cherry.

The Witch Hazel relative, Parrotia persica, on the left of the path through to the sunken garden, is studded with small red petalless flowers, its pleasant flaking bark visible in its leafless state.  The peeling bark of the paper bark maple, Acer griseum, also stands out well while the surrounding trees are leafless. The purple hose in hose, primula massed in a bed near here remind one of how valuable primrose and polyanthus forms are at this time of year, so must split the ones I still have and purloin some more!

Have a look at the ‘ancient’ hedge along the northern edge of the lawn where the old order beds used to be, now expertly laid by the head gardener - ready to restrain livestock!  It will be interesting to watch its progress and recovery from what looks like drastic treatment.  While we are on the subject  of hedges, I was struck by how well cut and in good condition both the holly hedges round the rose garden and the hornbeam one round the old kitchen garden are; smooth and tapering to the top.

The herbaceous border looks pleasingly ready for action, cut down with new shoots just visible as are the buds on the spectacular Paeonia rockii on the south facing terrace, whereas Garrya elliptica, the evergreen shrub by the gate through to the rock garden is in its full glory, draped in long grey-green catkins (my specimen is another winter casualty I fear).  On the way to this enjoy the sight and scent of the excellent Daphne bholua in the bed in front of the wall, wreathed in headily scented pink flowers - a good bet for a reasonably sunny sheltered position in town,  if a bit challenged by the more arduous conditions further inland.

In the rock garden, enjoy the patches of numerous different bulbs (corms, tubers etc – but let’s not get too fussy!) - the grouping of Cyclamen coum at the foot of the Monkey puzzle tree is particularly pleasing, then home to your own garden to prepare for the impending growing season!
 David Atkinson
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on January 19, 2013, 12:26:56 PM
Cruickshank Garden Notes Summer  2010

Well, the long hot summer we all seem to feel we deserve after the long cold winter we enjoyed, has yet to materialise and had better hurry up if it is going to be long. There have been some very pleasant warm moments and even whole days, but a lot of very chilly ones with icy northerly winds and too much wetness- what a joy it is mowing sodden grass!  The unfolding of the season has revealed further winter casualties - plants apparently all right but unable to sustain new growth; either because half broken branches could not support the extra windage that a new crop of leaves brought, or because roots or bark  were more damaged than they had first seemed.  I have lost, in addition to the plants mentioned in the last notes a three metre sweet chestnut, a large Paulownia tomentosa and even a dwarf Scots pine and various Deutzia.  In addition gardeners have had to contend with the damage hungry rabbits and deer have caused in many country gardens - a rabbit fence is a poor barrier if there is three feet of snow, and apple and rowan bark is tasty enough to a starving grazer.  On a much more positive note however those trees and shrubs which survive the winter are flowering profusely, native Hawthorn, Rowan, Gorse and Broom are joined by Rhododendrons, Viburnums and more, presumably as a result of last year’s conditions- a reasonably warm and moist summer with a slow and measured descent into autumn and winter.


Paulownia tomentosa thriving in Australia, photo by Fermiano de Sousa

Thus to the Cruickshank on a pleasant Thursday evening when the lowing herd – if there had been one – would undoubtedly have been winding slowly o’er the lea, where the big beech by the Chanonry entrance is already laden with a heavy crop of mast, and embryonic berries can be spotted on the rowans nearby.  The Weeping ash, Fraxinus excelsior ‘Pendula’ on the corner encloses a pleasing green space beneath its branches as do the very satisfactory two Weeping elms, Ulmus glabra ‘Camperdownii’ on the northern edge of the old order beds.  All three of these much more satisfactory and dignified than most weeping trees because they were either grafted high or trained vertically before being allowed to weep. The bed by the south west corner of the Cruickshank building has been planted with a diverse selection of Aquilegia species and forms. The bed is colourful and interesting now and it will be amusing to view the results of their promiscuous mixing in years to come!  In the nearby peat bed the  New Zealand native, Bulbinella hookeri with bronzy foliage and spikes of egg-yolk yellow flowers, like a mini red hot poker, is thriving in the coolish dampish conditions, shaded from the south by a well and fragrantly flowered dwarf lilac Syringa  meyeri ‘Palibin’- an excellent, very hardy and easy-going choice for any garden.  This bed, as with many others in the garden is enlivened at the moment by self sown specimens of Dame’s violet, Hesperis matronalis, with musky scented flowers in shades of lilac - another plant that should be in all but the most rigidly controlled gardens.

As you wander through to the shrub border leading to St. Machar Drive, note the spectacle of Laburnum x wateri ‘Vossii’ , common enough to be overlooked, but marvellous when wreathed in its long dangling racemes of yellow pea flowers. Enjoy also the large white flowers on the Medlar, Mespilus  germanica at the eastern end of boundary  border and the nearby red flowered hawthorn, Crateagus laevigata ‘Punicea’(aka Crimson Cloud).

In the west facing side of the shrub border one of the garden’s specimens of the Chilean fire bush, Embothrium coccineum, Lanceolatum Group, is exotically  covered in profuse orange red flowers, near the golden Philadelphus, P.coronarius ‘Aureus’ on the point of filling the air with the heady scent of its largish white flowers. This plant is another reliable garden plant, tolerant of pruning and thriving - though more lime green than golden - in even quite dense shade. Two pinkish flowered Lilacs Syringa emodi from the Himalaya and the Canadian raised S. x josiflexa ’Bellicent’ are also fragrantly thriving here.

The Rose Garden is just yawning and stretching with pleasing early blooms on, among others, the excellent Rugosa hybrid, the vigorous, scented magenta flowered Roseraie del’Hay, the species Rosa moyesii and the tall white flowered Rosa pimpinellifolia (now R. spinosissima) ‘Altaica’.  Don’t forget to admire the excellent and beautifully tended hedges which bound this area.

The herbaceous border, mulched and staked is already charming with patches of early perennials and the promise of so much more; a group of a whitish Foxtail lily  (Eremurus?), Paeonies, Geranium,  a tall yellow Meadow rue, Thalictrum lucidum, the crimson-flowered Thistle, Cirsium rivulare, and much more on an almost daily basis.

The terrace wall is delightful with another specimen of Embothrium coccineum, a Bladder senna, Colutea x meadia with copper coloured pea flowers with faces like a Disney cartoon character, Wisteria and the splendid Californian currant, Ribes speciosum, with dangling fuchsia like flowers, waiting hopefully for a humming bird to come and pollinate them!

Finally to the Rock Garden where the spring display is quieting down, though much of interest remains, including a group of the African violet relative, the Chasmophyte, Ramonda myconi in the Dawn redwood bed, dactylorhiza orchids here and there and a fine stand of the native Flag iris I. pseudacorus, here in water in the bottom pool but surprisingly tolerant of drier conditions.

Close-up of Paulownia flowers

And so to bed - hoping that by the time you read this we will be basking in sunshine and looking forward to a refreshing glass of Pimms with not a jumper or fleece in sight! 
                                                                                                                                     David Atkinson
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on January 19, 2013, 12:44:10 PM
Cruickshank notes – Autumn 2010

Another growing season reaches its climax - fruit ripens on trees, harvest time nears and those provident ants among us make jams and other preserves to sustain themselves through the long winter months.  It seems to have been another good year for trees and shrubs; those that survived the snow and cold have in general flowered well and their branches are now weighed down with berries or other fruit.
The large beech tree by the Chanonry gate has, accordingly, a huge crop of mast and the two rowans on the other side of the path, a pink-berried form of Sorbus cashmeriana and a white- berried Sorbus forrestii are laden with fruit, as indeed is the fine weeping ash, Fraxinus excelsior ‘Pendula’ on the corner of this bed, ready to provide the gardeners with lots of weeding opportunities next season.  The ‘notice board’ bed has a white agapanthus in flower at the moment as well as the exotically flowered New Zealand flax, Phormium tenax – a reasonable bet in Aberdeen, though in my experience it does not survive the winters inland. Unfortunately the more excitingly-coloured foliage types are forms or hybrids of the less hardy Phormium cookianum, which struggles even in town.  Also in this bed is a plant of the herbaceous berberis relative Podophyllum hexandrum, usually thriving in a coolish moist situation- indeed there is a good clump in the sunken garden, with pleasant, large mottled leaves, largeish pink flowers and at this time of year very striking plum sized and shaped bright red fruits which are allegedly edible when fully ripe - ‘juicy but insipid’- but I’m not sure I fancy trying one!
 Actaea rubra in flower, Canada - Cohan Fulford

The unequivocally poisonous berries of Actaea rubra, the baneberry, similarly bright red, can be seen in a number of places in the garden, cheering up shady corners.  There is an interesting brief account of the effects of a deliberate experimental self-intoxication in the Wikipedia entry for this species - but don’t try it at home!  The youngish specimen of the Chinese shrub, Decaisnea fargesii, has large crop pods, green like broad beans at the moment but soon to change to a remarkable metallic-blue.  This is a very hardy large shrub though prone to damage from late frosts, with elegant, large pinnate leaves and racemes of yellow-green flowers.  Nearby the two weeping elm specimens, Ulmus glabra ‘Camperdownii’, continue to defy Dutch elm disease and provide shady bowers from our searing summer sun.
The maidenhair tree, Gingko biloba, does less well though it must be at least 30 years old.   It is a scrawny specimen suffering here from our cool maritime summers, though thriving as far north as Levens Hall in Cumbria.

The large beech on the lawn between the shrub border and the rose garden is in danger of overwhelming the other residents - the horse chestnut relative, the American Aesculus parviflora is almost under its canopy, though the elegant Chinese Tetradium daniellii to the south of the beech is still managing to flower profusely, its corymbs of small white buds about to release their fragrance into the late summer air.

The South African bed on the northern side of the sunken garden is delightful at the moment with forms of the cape figwort Phygelius spp, Agapanthus and Eucomis, whilst the bed in front is a flower filled mass of annual marigolds, cornflower, and quaking grass, Briza maxima.

However, the major impact in the garden at this time of year is provided by the herbaceous border, still not quite at its peak, it is nonetheless a splendid celebration of the sheer diversity of form, colour and habit of plants that thrive in Aberdeen, with its size allowing planting in bold blocks for maximum impact.  Here can be found Phlox paniculata  forms in purple, white and shades of pink, tall Eupatorium in purple, pink and white, blocks of agapanthus in a very good blue, forms of spikey foliaged Crocosmia x crocosmiflora and much more besides.

Eupatorium maculatum in bud,  Canada, Kristl Walek

The rock garden is by comparison relatively restrained though its evergreenery is as ever pleasing and restful.  However even here clumps of the ginger relative Roscoea spp. provide exotic floral pleasure and the large leaved hydrangeas, H. sargentiana and H. aspera in the border along the southern edge are parading their tasteful lilac lace-caps.  Enjoy also their neighbour, the handsome Clethra delavayi with dark green leaves and long racemes of lily of the valley-like flowers - worth trying in a very sheltered spot even inland, flowering with me for a number of years.  Finally, there was just one Cyclamen hederifolium flower visible, but by the time you read this the early autumn display should be well under way.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                 David Aktkinson
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on January 19, 2013, 01:11:53 PM
Cruickshank Garden notes, January  2011

One of the CBG Camperdown Elms in the snow

What a lot of snow we have had for a second year, straight down with no wind and arriving in November when much autumn clearing work was still to be done, leaves cleared, hedges trimmed, hatches battened down and so on.  After the snowy demise of our polytunnel last year we assiduously cleared the considerable quantities of snow from it every day and it has survived, though our gutters have fared less well. There is a lot of physical damage to trees and shrubs and the freezing temperatures have clearly caused many casualties though the full extent won’t be apparent for a long while yet.  However as I write this the sun is shining, it is 8 degrees in the shade, the snow is disappearing fast and if you didn’t know better you’d think spring was just around the corner!

So to the snowless Cruickshank Garden, where the spring awakening has yet to take place, the bulbs in the grass by the Chanonry entrance are not above ground, though the winter pansies in the containers by the greenhouses on the left are cheerfully flowering away and the flower buds on the double gean in the courtyard promise future pleasure.  The New Zealand daisy bush, Olearia macrodonta, not yet recovered from last year’s winter has been knocked back again.  The berries from Sorbus cashmeriana cover the ground under the tree uneaten despite the harshness of the weather, Sorbus vilmorinii seems to have berries similarly unattractive to birds.  Nearby is a good specimen of the very hardy prostrate Siberian conifer, Microbiota decussata, its foliage in its winter brown - a useful ground cover conifer.
The Witchhazel, Hammamelis mollis on the left as you continue your tour, one of a number in the garden, is just starting to reveal its fragrant yellow flowers.  As with other winter flowering plants it is a good idea to place this somewhere near your house where you will see it in the course of everyday life, otherwise its glory can pass unnoticed.  Next to it is a relative Parrotia persica, with pleasant flaking bark like a London plane tree.  This is another very hardy tall shrub, though it has yet to flower with me, its small red petal-less flowers not yet on show in the Cruickshank Garden either.  The winter flowering viburnum V. farreri, with sweetly scented white flowers opening from pink buds can be seen in the bed above the sunken garden.  This is one of the parents of the better known and excellent Viburnum x bodnantense, not as vigorous as its offspring but it still merits garden room.  In the same bed winter rosettes of monocarpic meconopsis enliven the scene.
The dry stems and seed heads of Honesty, Lunaria annua, - an excellent ‘casual’- cheer up the shrub border leading towards the boundary wall, aided by the startlingly red berries of the shade tolerant evergreen Skimmia japonica.  Another shade loving evergreen Butcher’s Broom, Ruscus aculeatus, with many spiny stems though no berries can be seen nearby in the border along the wall.
The absence of flower power throws one’s attention onto the shapes and structure in the garden and the very well trimmed hedges round the rose garden are pleasing to contemplate as is the tracery of deciduous branches against the sky, masked by the foliage later in the year.  The conifers at the eastern end of the sunken garden, where the bulb lawn is still sleeping, similarly provide an interesting integrated picture of contrasting textures, form and colour.

Galanthus reginae-olgae
Roma Fiddes: "Galanthus reginae-olgae (corcyrensis) has emerged still flowering from the melting snow. The form pictured was called corcyrensis till Aaron Davis did his PhD.  It starts flowering in November and can keep going till February".

Another winter flowerer, though not a good performer in colder inland areas, Mahonia x media ‘Charity’, is about to flower against the warm wall by the gate to the rock garden, where apart from the odd cyclamen and a pleasing group of the very early snowdrop Galanthus reginae-olgae in the dawn redwood bed, the story is again of structure, texture and shades of green.
So let us enjoy the illusion that there is plenty of time to plan and prepare for the next growing season and hope for a real summer to go with the real winter - four distinct seasons in the right order would get my vote!
                                                                                                  David Atkinson

Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on January 19, 2013, 02:10:16 PM
Cruickshank Garden Notes, Spring 2011

The clocks have sprung forward giving us light evenings, snow is retreating to mountain tops and every day brings new signs of the season to come.  It is still a bit too early finally to pronounce on the casualties of winter though the prognosis is not looking too good for a variety of shrubs - some of which have survived many a year. Phormiums, even the hardier P. tenax have been hit hard, many Ceanothus have bloomed for the last time and many Cistus have given up the unequal struggle. 
I, in common with many of you, have rather a lot of ‘planting opportunities’!
However, fortunately there are still many floral pleasures to be found in the Cruickshank Garden on a crisp spring morning.  On the beech lawn just by the Chanonry gate, daffodils have taken over from the snowdrops whilst on the other side of the path, the early rhododendron, R. racemosum, is well covered with dark pink flowers, protected from late frosts by the overhanging Sorbus cashmeriana branches already  bearing burgeoning buds.  The Iris unguicularis, at the base of the south facing wall of the Cruickshank Building, is full of flower as every spring, revelling in its dry sun-baked (well, relatively!) position - it has only managed an occasional flower out here at Craigievar, though its near relative Iris lazica from Crete, another early flowerer, has done far better. However, other denizens of this courtyard area have fared less well, many of the leaf tips of the normally elegant juniper J. recurva var ‘Coxii’, are burnt brown and I think the second hard winter in a row has finished off the New Zealand daisy bush, Olearia macrodonta in the notice board bed.

Rhododendron racemosum in the Victoria, Canada garden of Diane Whitehead

Small delights are appearing in the nearby peat beds, some attractive double primroses, a pleasant corydalis, C. cheilanthifolia,  sundry small bulbs and the strange purple fruits of Pernettya mucronata, a very hardy evergreen from Chile with marble-like berries varying in colour depending on the clone from white through various pinks to purple and crimson - arguably good for a mass planting but somehow not very exciting - in the same category for me as Skimmia and Potentilla fruticosa; plants I feel mildly ungrateful for not liking more!
Other early spring pleasures come into view as you wander towards the weeping elm, Ulmus glabra ‘Camperdownii’ itself lovely with its bare branches covered in purple petal less flowers. There are more double primroses, hellebores, a fine white-flowered Daphne mezereum, beautifully scented which, if occasionally short-lived,  should be in everyone’s garden, doing well even in quite dense deciduous shade. In a bed on the upper edge of the sunken garden Bergenia is flowering well and looking far less moth-eaten than I can ever manage it, next to a very well flowered specimen of the  pale yellow dwarf Rhododendron ‘Chink’. Nearby admire the hedger’s skill in the well-laid ‘ancient’ hedgerow, new low growth springing from the horizontal, almost completely severed trunks. The evergreen hedges of yew and holly round the quiescent rose garden should also be admired, beautifully trimmed into text book shape, broad at the base and tapering narrowly to the top.
The bulb lawn in the bottom of the sunken garden is filling with colour, dwarf daffodils, Narcissus minimus among others, dog’s tooth violets, Erythronium dens-canis, a pleasant Cambridge blue grape hyacinth inter alia. Though a fierce-some  spreader by seed - as here- Chionodoxa luciliae- ‘Glory of the snow’- makes a wonderful sea of bright blue in the bed at the eastern end of the sunken garden, the nearby raised bed is home to Trillium in variety and some very good Corydalis, whist other recently cleared beds wait eagerly for their new plantings.
 On the terrace the many flower buds on the sumptuous tree paeony, P. rockii (formerly P. suffructicosa  ‘Rock’s variety’) are already discernable. This tree paeony I have found to be much hardier and a far more reliable performer than the Japanese named forms – ‘Flight of Cranes’ etc. that seem to languish in our chilly northern climes, whereas P. rockii increases in size and number of flowers, which are fully eight inches across and wonderfully coloured, white with basal splashes of maroon, even at Craigievar.  P. lutea and P. delavayi also thrive in our area with very good foliage and good numbers of albeit smaller flowers somewhat hidden by the foliage.
The evergreen Garrya elliptica, gatekeeper for the Rock Garden entrance is still adorned with its long catkins, unworried by its shady situation, a restrained contrast to the bright patches of colour in the rock garden. Scilla turbergeniana is splendid with pale blue flowers with a darker stripe down the middle of each petal, various colour forms of the common and easy drumstick primula, P. denticula stoutly advertise themselves, and a particularly fine ring of Cyclamen coum, with lovely mottled foliage and charming pink flowers with reflexed petals can be seen at the base of the large monkey puzzle, Araucaria araucana- an interesting juxtaposition!

Cyclamen coum in the Vienna garden of Franz Hadacek

Do go and look for yourself though, so much happens every day at this time of year and we can all enjoy the sense of renewal that opening buds, new leaves and emergent shoots bring before the hurly burly of grass cutting, weeding, staking and so on take over.
                                                                                                                 David Atkinson
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on January 19, 2013, 02:20:30 PM
Cruickshank notes,  late June 2011

Nights are drawing in but we have not really had many balmy summer days yet.  The early dry period in April and May has been followed by plenty of rain and rather low temperatures. Grass growth has been slow – silage crops are not bulky - though native weeds are all too flourishing.  Winter damage has continue to reveal itself; as well as the already dead, further casualties have become apparent as they fail to come into growth, a number of eucalyptus, cistus , ceanothus,  Clematis montana  particularly older ones) buddleia and many roses inter alia have passed on.  Others have come back from the dead, shooting from apparently lifeless branches or from the roots - the Olearia macrodonta in the ‘noticeboard  bed’  being a case in point, an abundance of shoots breaking from the first foot or so, though it will be several years and milder winters before it reaches its former glory.  Nearby in the bed to the south of the Cruickshank Building by the peat beds the tenderish  Rubus lineatus with pleasing leaves composed of five leaflets, dark green  above silver and silky below has been pruned of its dead stems and looks well, if diminished.

Olearia macrodonta-from native plant specialist, David Lyttle, Otago, New Zealand

At this time of year in many established gardens the benefit of 'casuals', garden plants that gently sow themselves around enhancing or pleasingly subverting the careful plans of the controlling gardener, are very clear. Aquilegias cheerfully interbreed and provide a delightful variety of form and colour, less varied but well scented Dame’s violet, Hesperis matronalis lights up many shady corners.  The various forms of the biennial Honesty, Lunaria annua fulfil a similar function.  All are easily weeded out if their chosen spot does not please the vigilant gardener.
In the pond in the north-east corner of the lawn area by the Auris Building - the old order bed  area, the ? native Water soldier, Stratiotes aloides, has floated to the surface from its winter rest at depth and is vainly showing its all female white flowers in the clear water left by the vigorous Flag iris, I. pseudacorus, still with the last of its yellow flowers.  Nearby, on the other side of the Weeping elm, Ulmus glabra ‘Camperdownii’, still mercifully unaffected by Dutch elm disease, the recently laid ‘ancient hedgerow is growing as intended, thickly and vigorous , looking convincingly stock-proof.
The Rose Garden is a pleasant place to wander at the moment, particularly if you can catch a rare sunny spell.  The roses  to the south on the upper level are flourishing; 'Dundee rambler', 'Stanwell Perpetual', 'Rose-Marie Viaud' among others, enhanced by the sweet peas that are threading their way through.  Similarly the beds on the upper  level at the North end are full of delightful old roses in a range of subtle pinks and dusty purples. Unfortunately the floribundas/hybrid teas in the beds in the sunken terrace are starting to show the effects of age and infirmity, and are possible candidates for replacement - funds permitting!
The replanted bed in the Sunken Garden, where the overenthusiastic gaultheria was removed, has been replanted with a range of herbaceous plants, Gaura lindheimii, Coreopsis verticillata, and various Penstemon among others,  promises to provide a welcome splash of colour soon.
The Bladder senna, Colutea x media ‘Copper Beauty’ on the brick wall next to the summer house, is delightfully adorned with copper-orange pea flowers, while the herbaceous border is just getting into its stride, the early geraniums, pyrethrums , thalictrums and so on soon to be joined by the full summer panoply of phlox, eupatoriums,  and ‘daisies’ in profusion.
After its spring extravaganza the Rock Garden delights are calmer now, the shapes and subtle shades of green please and floral gems are still to be found.  Various species of the hardy ginger relative Roscoea spp and exotic looking Incarvilleas and much else beside, justify a diligent wander here before the demands of your own garden call you back home.     
                                                                                                                                David Atkinson
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on January 19, 2013, 02:32:10 PM
Cruickshank notes Autumn 2011

So that was summer?  Summer’s lease has had a rather short day this year.  The horse chestnut trees alongside the Alford road by Dunecht are displaying the yellows of autumn, colchicum, cyclamen and autumn crocus are starting to bloom, flowers are already appearing on Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ and I’m looking for recipes for green tomatoes.  On the upside, the sweet corn from our tunnel is ripe and deliciously sweet, and there are 15 large ripening fruit on the true quince tree, Cydonia oblonga, also grown with benefit of polythene! The ample rainfall has brought considerable growth to many trees and shrubs though the lingering effects of the cold winter, as well as completely killing some conifer hedges, has meant that many remaining ones have only made half their usual extension growth.
There were no mists, but some mellow fruitfulness on the day I visited the Cruickshank Garden; there are many different sorbus- rowans, whitebeams etc.- in the garden with a splendid variety of coloured berries.  On the left as you come through the Chanonry gate, is a blush pink-berried Sorbus cashmeriana next to a white berried Sorbus forestii while at the far side of the courtyard is a more usual white-berried Sorbus cashmeriana, excellent as a multi-stemmed small tree.  A number of plants in the ‘noticeboard bed’ are still showing the effects of the winter, there is a moribund Phormium tenax-  New Zealand flax, with a few straggly leaves - one of many to have suffered mightily in and around Aberdeen, and an Olearia ilicifolia which is a shadow of its former self though Agapanthus in both white and blue is flourishing.  The self-seeding biennial / short-lived sea holly, Eryngium giganteum, Miss Wilmot’s ghost, enlivens the beds around here while a small-leaved rhododendron in one of the peat beds, is unseasonally covered in blue flowers.  Round the corner, the west wall of the Cruickshank building is resplendent to the top in the deep reds of the magnificently vigorous self-clinging Virginia creeper, Parthenocissus quinquefolia (or possibly P. tricuspidata, Boston Ivy, I didn’t look closely enough).
The bed on the eastern lip of the sunken garden is full at the moment, of dinner plate sized light brown fungi ( species?), whilst the nearby red berries of the red baneberry, Actaea rubra and the pale yellow ones of Daphne mezereum f.alba provide alternate sources of poison!  While further on from here, in the shrub border leading to St. Machar’s Drive, the very shade tolerant Skimmia japonica has this years red berries (not edible but less poisonous than the above) and next year’s buds simultaneously.  Nearby the excellent evergreen Eucryphia x nymansensis ‘Nymansay’, a hybrid between two South American species is wreathed in large multi-stamened white flowers.  This, though hardy in Aberdeen where it flowers best with some sun, is not a good long term prospect for higher, more inland gardens, where severe winters will finish it off.  I grew its much smaller Tasmanian relative E. milliganii successfully at Craigievar till the winter of 1999 took it out, since when despite several attempts I have failed to re-establish it.
Though the well cut hedges and hips on the species roses please, there is not much flower power in the rose garden at the moment.  The floribundas in the sunken section which might be expected to keep the rose flag flying through late summer, are at the end of their useful life and their flowering is desultory at best.
In the sunken garden, the bulb lawn is shorn waiting for the autumn bulb display of colchicum and crocuses, whilst in the bed nearby the impressive bright red dangling fruits of the Himalayan damp-lover, Podophyllum emodi, stand out.  A large patch of the North American woodlander, Disporum smithii can be seen under a nearby rhododendron, a member of the lily family, with white Solomon’s seal flowers in spring, now showing off a fine crop of orange berries.  The late flowering willow gentian, Gentiana asclepiadia is also here with true  blue flowers along the length of its arching stems.  Though mainly a plant of woodlands in the wild, it is thriving with me in an open meadow holding its own among the surrounding grasses.  The South African bed on the north side of the sunken garden is pleasantly multi-coloured with blue agapanthus, pink Tritonia rosea, green Eucomis comosa and Cape figwort, Phygelius capensis in a variety of colours.
The herbaceous border is still a mass of colour, showing or rather not showing the benefits of early and comprehensive staking.  Border phlox in shades of pink, white, lilac and a splendid deep purple, Eupatorium six feet and more tall with heads of flowers in white and shades of pink, and much else besides.

Hydrangea aspera photgraphed at Rousham House, Oxfordhsire, by Giles Reed

 The rock garden, always pleasing for its arrangement of beds, trees and rocks - a strong structure enhanced by the many evergreens, has few but charming flowers at this time of year.  Enjoy the cyclamen in the dawn redwood bed, the ‘Angels’s fishing rods’, Dierama pulcherrimum waving in the breeze and the delicate flowers of the Autumn snow flake, while in the shady bed at the bottom of the slope, various forms of Hydrangea aspera, with lace-cap heads of subtle deep lilac are thriving in the moist cool conditions.

So with only the chance of an Indian summer to look forward to, it  is time to put some more logs on the fire and hope for a dry day tomorrow!
                                                                                                                            David Atkinson
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on January 19, 2013, 02:43:05 PM
Cruickshank Garden Notes      January  2012

‘Blow, blow thou winter wind.  Thou art not so unkind as man’s ingratitude.’

However that may be, the winter winds have bitten pretty keenly this year.  After two remarkably windless winters, many trees, fences, sheds and even walls have been battered into submission in the gales and many gardens were strewn with debris even if they did not lose any whole plants.  Indeed in the Cruickshank garden a fair supply of firewood could be gleaned from the lawns, whilst more unfortunately, the graceful and well-shaped, Japanese elm relative, Zelkova  serrata, on the opposite side of the path to the south of the herbaceous border and about halfway along, is now lying horizontally awaiting the last rites.
In my garden and many others, including the Cruickshank, precocious growth and flowering seems to be the order of the day.  I have had spring bulbs (Iris histriodes and I. reticulata and various Crocus inter alia) poking above ground since mid-December, the noses of trilliums are also visible and both witch hazel, Hamamelis mollis ‘Pallida’ and Viburnum x bodnantense have been in flower weeks earlier than usual.
In the bulb-rich lawn under the beech tree by the Chanonry entrance, a single orange crocus amongst the snowdrop and daffodil foliage is the harbinger of the floral display to come, while round the corner in the courtyard, snuggled against the south-facing wall, the winter flowering iris I. unguicularis already has large lilac, fragrant flowers nestling amongst its foliage and the splendid, wide-spreading cherry Prunus ‘Moerheimii’ is covered in slowly swelling buds.

I. unguicularis in Dunedin, New Zealand , Lelsley Cox

The nearby peat beds are in the process of being refurbished, and look pleasing with the terraces rebuilt in logs.  A pink Kaffir lily, Schizostylis coccinea, though a little weather beaten is still flowering away here and Gaultheria mucronata (formerly Pernettya mucronata) is covered in purplish berries and looks surprisingly well for a plant I find it hard to love.  On the other side of the main path a witch hazel, Hamamelis mollis, is in full flower, while next to it one of its cousins Parrotia persica is just opening its flowers consisting of clusters of red stamens.  This last looks elegant in its leafless state, its attractive flaking bark visible through the dome of weeping branches, a very hardy large shrub even in exposed inland situations.  A nearby bed is already adorned with the largeish flowers and grey foliage of an attractive snowdrop, a Galanthus elwesii hybrid, and odd flowers on the old primrose variety Primula vulgaris ‘Lilacena Plena’- Quaker’s Bonnet.
Early flowering rhododendrons, R. dauricum and R. mucronulatum can be seen in the bed on the eastern rim of the sunken garden next to the winter flowering Viburnum farreri, one of the parents of the better known V. x bodnantense.  These two rhododendrons with smallish purpleish flowers, would be well outshone by their showier relatives had they not chosen to flower at a florally starved time of year!
Though there are no roses flowering, the immaculately clipped hedges of the rose garden are very pleasing.  Evergreens provide structure and somehow anchor a garden in the darker months, as also in the rock garden area with its less formal but still sculptural conifers, other evergreens and the elegant tracery of the leafless branches of shapely deciduous Cercidiphyllum japonica ‘Pendula’ and the three dawn redwoods Metasequoia glyptostroboides.
On the terrace, another witness to the relatively mild weather the half-hardy sub-shrub, Melianthus major with exotic glaucous deeply-toothed pinnate leaves still stands untouched by frost.  A very fine specimen of Mahonia x media ‘Charity’ is in full flower against the long wall by the gate through to the rock garden just past a large specimen of the evergreen  Arbutus unedo, the ‘Killarney Strawberry Tree’, still decorated with small white bell–shaped flowers - the hardiest and least interesting of arbutus species.
 The new path to the arboretum at the top of the slope provides a pleasant new view down the rock garden. Here in the bed with the large birch in it, is a plant I have not spotted before resembling a false quince, a medium sized shrub, Prinsepia sinensis, from Manchuria and currently bearing buttercup- yellow flowers along its arching stems.  The winter flowering Cyclamen coum has taken over from the autumn flowering C. hederifolium whose attractive foliage still pleases.  I particularly like the combination of the large monkey puzzle, Araucaria araucana, with Cyclamen coum flowering round its toes.  Here again spring bulbs are already marking the lengthening days and the promise of spring – with possibly a summer after that for a change!
                                                                                                                                 David Atkinson
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on January 19, 2013, 02:50:33 PM
Cruickshank Garden Notes, late March 2012

As I walked round the Cruickshank gardens recently, the sun was shining, students and others were strewn here and there in sunny spots communing with each other, nature and their books, a playgroup was intent on their snacks on the terrace - and the brightness of day was echoed by the cheerful optimism of the spring flowers and a garden ready for a burst of growth. After a very easy almost snow free winter - discounted snow shovels and bags of salt will be everywhere soon, we are now in that pleasant period in the gardening year when the illusion of control and timely intervention is relatively easy to maintain.
The freshness of the swelling buds and new growth bring promise of future delight and new possibilities though that dour and depressing thought that ‘we’ll aye pey for it’ lurks in shadier corners. Meanwhile, oblivious of their doom, white daffodils with pale yellow coronas have taken over from the Fred’s Giant snowdrop in the lawn under the big beech tree by the Chanonry entrance, while round the corner in the courtyard, the splendid flowering cherry, Prunus ‘Moerheimii’ is wreathed in single pink flowers, a splendid sight despite being restricted by the demands for parking without which it would probably be 10 metres or more in diameter. Its near neighbour, an unnamed flowering cherry, is covered in bud ready to take over the floral baton aided by the large double gean, Prunus avium ‘Plena’, on the other side of the main thoroughfare, this last rightly described in Hillier’s manual as “one of the loveliest of all flowering trees” though it does need a lot of space to show itself to best advantage.

The bases of a number of trees in the wooded area on the way to the long shrub border have been enlivened by rings of early pansies, cheerful everywhere though most striking where a single colour is used. The peeling cinnamon bark of the Paperbark maple Acer griseum looks particularly good in spring sunshine; this, though slow growing, is a very hardy tree with a modicum of shelter even in cold inland gardens.

Fritillaria meleagris
, from Wim Boens in Belgium

 The bulb lawn in the sunken garden is heading towards its season of maximum impact;  miniature narcissus taking over from crocus and about to be joined by Dogtooth violets, Erythronium spp, and Snakeshead fritillaries, Fritillaria meleagris amongst others. While in beds nearby, often in quite deep shade, various Corydalis species and cultivars, deceptively fragile looking, thrive in diverse colours, while the emerging shoots of the ‘Himalayan rhubarb’ Rheum palmatum look almost reptilian.The herbaceous border, as always at this time, has been cut down and is neatly sitting waiting to play its part. It is still too early for most of the plants against the long warm to be in flower, though promising buds can be seen on the excellent Flowering currant Ribes speciosum and the freestanding Berberis in front of the summer house is already proudly and unashamedly orange. Then past swelling buds on the green flowered cherry Prunus ‘Ukon’ and  the dying catkins on Garrya elliptica and into the rock garden area where splashes of colour from diverse groups of spring bulbs catch the eye, along with early shrubs such as the excellent Witch hazel relative Corylopsis spicata by one of the stepping stones over the stream.
The dwarf forsythia, F. viridissima ‘Bronxensis’ at a corner of the bed uphill of the Dawn redwoods shelters a mass of  Narcissus triandrus, forming an intensely yellow curve. In the same bed a variety of spring flowerers are flourishing before the trees leaf out, including the pleasant yellow Anemone Anemone ranunculoides and a myriad Chionodoxa and Scilla.

So off to enjoy gardening in the current dry and warmth; a little rain overnight a few times a week and may this continue till September at least!

                                                                                                                                David Atkinson
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on January 19, 2013, 03:14:36 PM
Cruikshank notes Autumn 2012

‘Mrs Noah, one day she asked ‘How does it look outside?’ Out of the window, Noah popped his head and said ‘We’ve got plenty of water!’

So indeed have we, the rainfall of early summer has been matched by the rainfall of late summer and we cheer each other up with hopeful talk of an Indian summer- hmm! The plants that can grow have been growing exuberantly and rank vegetation abounds, grass has yet to slow down and trench foot remains a danger as the rising damp meets the falling damp.
Thus it was a on a dreich Monday afternoon that I found myself splashing round the Cruickshank Garden in a steady downpour, taking notes on increasingly soggy bits of paper.  I noticed the Clematis montana climbing over the small rowan, on the left just after the Chanonry gate, and up into the holly behind it, and wondered quite how far an entirely unpruned one would travel. It is excellent plant, in its many forms, from white to pink, often with good purple new foliage and sometimes well-scented, but very rampant and inclined to smother all but the most vigorous of supporting plants unless trimmed – though not too late in the year or you lose much of the potential flower.
The Agapanthus, in the ‘Noticeboard bed’- as elsewhere in the garden, is flowering very well indeed.  Whether this performance which is matched in my garden and several others I visit, is the result of the mild winter or the aforementioned moisture, I know not, but it is nonetheless very welcome. The dahlias in the nearby bed look less pleased with the wet!
The foliage of Parrotia persica and the Viburnum plicatum ‘Mariesii’ which flank the path through to the weeping elm, is colouring already and berries and seedheads are more in evidence than flowers on the shrubs in this area.  The skimmia, as always thriving as an understorey, are covered in bright red berries, matched in colour by baneberries, Actaea rubra,  which have seeded liberally into beds and borders.  In the west-facing half of this shrub border, the Chilean shrub Eucryphia glutinosa - deciduous  with us, though evergreen in the wild - is well decorated with large clear white flowers and prominent stamens, whilst in the increasingly wooded area between the Shrub Border and the Rose Garden, a skimmia relative - a fellow member of the ‘citrus family’, the Rutaceae- the Chinese tree, Tetradium danielli, with large pinnate leaves, is about to fill the warm air of our Indian summer (!) with the fragrance of its corymbs of small white flowers.
In the Rose Garden too, the hips of Rosa moyesii are striking, and the sweet peas very pleasing and fragrant. The floribunda roses in the sunken area, already in their twilight years, have not enjoyed this summer at all.  The bedding begonias in the central bed seem to relish the damp and flower insouciantly well. The bulb lawn in the Sunken Garden has had its annual haircut and the short turf is waiting for the imminent emergence of autumn flowering colchicum and crocus. In the South African bed on the north side of the sunken area, very much the same plants are flowering as when I described them three months ago - a testament to their sustained flower power.  Thus various forms of the cape figwort, phygelius spp. combine with a dwarf form of the pink daisy, Osteospermum juncundum, now enhanced by the delicate pink blooms of their fellow native Tritonia rosea, like a delicate crocosmia, which thrives in this relatively sunny, well-drained spot.
The Chilean fire bush, Embothrium coccineum , still with some fine orangey red flowers near the summer house, is in danger of being smothered by excellent if over-vigorous climber, Vitis coignetiae, which will soon be resplendent in its autumn crimson and scarlet foliage.  Nearby the plants in the bed against the wall on the terrace are suffering from increasing shade from the large pine that is spreading above them. If we are not having to deal with plants that aren’t growing, then it is plants that are growing too well that cause the problem!
The herbaceous border is the major provider of floral impact at this time and as always timeously staked, the plants  are standing up to the conditions well.  The border phlox in colours from white through various pinks to an excellent strong purple are thriving and taller than usual.  The grey foliage of the tall member of the poppy family Macleaya cordata provides a cool foil to the brighter colours and the globe thistle, Echinops ritro, various eupatoriums and many members of the daisy family are all flourishing.

Dierama pulcherrimum,
Luit van Delft in Holland

In the Rock Garden, the first delightful Cyclamen hederifolium can be found, their delicate reflexed petals belying their robust hardy constitution.  The equally delicate though less hardy autumn snowflake, Acis autumnale (formerly Leucojum autumnale) can be found here, as can the much larger though equally elegant Dierama pulcherrimum - Angels’ fishing rods - with pleasant violet flowers on improbably long stems.  In the shady border at the lower edge of this area, there is a fine specimen of the large leaved hydrangea, H. aspera subsp. sargentiana, now in fine flower, large bluish inflorescences with white ray florets, enhancing its large velvety leaves.
So back to work to cut more sodden grass whilst dreaming of summer days of wine and roses.
                                                                                              David Atkinson

Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on January 19, 2013, 03:35:45 PM
 Friends of the Cruickshank Botanic Garden  : next events in the Lecture Programme 2012-13
Meetings are on THURSDAYS in the Zoology Building Tillydrone Avenue at 7.30pm
Everyone welcome!
Zoology Lecture Theatre, Zoology Building, Tillydrone Avenue ABERDEEN AB24 2TZ
Admission is FREE to Friends of the Cruickshank Botanic Garden.
Non-members -donation of £3 at the door.

14th Feb 2013  Roma Fiddes   ‘Gardens around Gothenburg’
A tour of some private gardens near Gothenburg and the wonderful Botanic Garden. Gothenburg is on Sweden's west coast with a mild climate influenced by the Gulf Stream. Swedish gardeners are adventurous and are not afraid to test plants on the borderline of hardiness.
14th Mar 2013 Nigel Dunnett RHS   Growing for Success
Ecology and horticulture integrated for low-input, dynamic, diverse, ecologically-tuned designed landscapes on small and Olympic scale.
11th Apr 2013 Ian Alexander ‘On gardening’
In 1981 Clare and Ian Alexander bought Birken Cottage, in the Don Valley and set about creating a garden from a wasteland. This is the story of the garden, the influences, lessons and pleasures.
Ian, the Emeritus Professor of Botany at Aberdeen University, has a long association with the CBG and the Friends (

30th May 2013   Noel Pritchard Memorial Lecture**
A special 30th Birthday celebration of the Friends with buffet and commemoration plantings.
(**The late Noel M Pritchard was formerly curator of the garden between 1964 and
1985 and instrumental in setting up the Friends of Cruickshank Botanic Garden)
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on January 19, 2013, 03:54:38 PM
Tours of the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Tours can be arranged for parties of 10 or more. Please address enquiries  in the first instance to the Head Gardener , Richard D.Walker   (

Some of the CBG Team

Professor David Robinson, Keeper of the Garden (

Curator of the CBG ,Mark Paterson
email: (      Telephone: 01224 273 638
Mark Paterson's horticultural career has included spells in Canada, Australia and London's Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, as well as Threave Gardens in Castle Douglas and the Eden Project in Cornwall, where he was head of the tertiary education programme. At the Cruickshank Botanic Garden, he will be working with the university to develop and promote the garden as an important asset not only to botany but to the city of Aberdeen. Mark has been in Aberdeen for just about a year now. (


Head Gardener, Richard D. Walker
 CBG staff : (
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on January 19, 2013, 06:13:05 PM
Several times in his Garden Notes for Spring, David has mentioned the ring of Cyclamen coum planted round the base of an Araucaria araucana -  Roma Fiddes has provided some photos from 2010 of this planting.
Roma, a long term Cyclamen Society member,  writes that:

The Cyclamen were sown from Cyc. Soc. seed in October 1997.  They were planted out 2 or three years later. Wondering what to do with them, I noticed the 4inch deep trough round the Monkey Puzzle where weeds and soil had been removed.  I widened it a bit, finding only one big root close enough to the surface to get in the way.  I forked over the base and filled the 'trough' with leaf mould then planted the Cyclamen tubers.


Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: David Nicholson on January 19, 2013, 07:55:41 PM
Well done CF, surely one of Scotland's "hidden" gems and should be much wider known. I've never been, but then I'm miles away, but I shall make it one of these days. I haven't read it all yet but I'm about to pour a large glass of red and do some savouring!
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on January 19, 2013, 09:12:35 PM
Living in Aberdeen, David, I can confirm the assertion that the Cruickshank Garden is one of the city's best kept secrets- too many locals do not know of its existence, let alone have ever they visited it.
I rather think that many botanic gardens are to be found which also merit the title of  "Secret Gardens" - I am pleased that the CBG and it's supporters, the FCBG are able to share  a spotlight here - but what of other botanic gardens who may be relatively unknown in their own area ?
There must be ways for local groups in many areas to join together to support such gardens to mutual benefit.
I hope to encourage such projects for other gardens - help uncover these secret treasures.

Title: Garden Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden- January 2013
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on February 04, 2013, 03:43:10 PM
Cruickshank Garden Notes   January  2013

So, as the rampant revelry finally peters out, a new year visit to a deserted Cruickshank Garden on a sunny afternoon provides a change of pace.  The sun and burgeoning buds combine to bring a feeling that the new growing season and peradventure warmth approach - a comforting illusion.  The ground, however, remains super soggy, with many fields sporting hopefully temporary ponds, if not lakes and indeed the lawns in the Cruickshank, squelch with every step, and a period of relative drought would be hugely welcome.

Rhododendrons seem to have enjoyed the wet autumn and many are well covered in large promising buds. The wet weather doesn’t seem to have stopped work in the Garden, with new paths proliferating, radical pruning and turf lifting and laying in a number of places and a resultant and impressive pile of debris to be dealt with. The first snowdrop buds are just visible in the small lawn to the right of the Chanonry entrance, though the yellow violas bedded out in front of the nearby greenhouses provide the biggest splash of colour.  Framed against the blue sky, the tangled head of the weeping ash, Fraxinus excelsior ‘Pendula’ is very pleasing - will it survive this latest threat to its species?

in CBG, photo Roma Fiddes

The two weeping elms further into the garden, again at their best I think bare-branched, have so far not succumbed to Dutch elm disease but maybe this is just luck; other mature elms in various Chanonry gardens are already victims.

Prunus 'Moerheimii'
[size=0pt]©  [/size]Dave Emley
 (photo by  courtesy of Dave Emley from Keele University, where a National Collection of Cherries is held (  )

The branches of the wide–spreading cherry, Prunus ‘Moerheimii’, in front of the Auris building, are studded with clusters of buds, too early for any colour yet, not so for another fine small weeping tree further on  the left, Parrotia persica, a witch hazel relative, whose buds are just showing red as the petal-less flowers emerge.  Its patchwork bark is seen to advantage in winter. A new grass path is been created near the north west corner of the Auris building, allowing both access and interesting new views through to the pond and old order bed area beyond. The large holly to one side of this path has had its skirts lifted, allowing space and light to large witch hazel, Hamamelis mollis, and the fascinating chimaera + Laburnocytisus adamii on its northern side.

Hamamelis mollis   photo Ashley Allshire, Co Cork

An old path has been cleared at the eastern of the sunken garden allowing views down the scree beds to the bulb lawn - a splendid way to revitalise an established garden.  It is too early yet for the spring display in the bulb lawn where only a few leftover bedraggled colchicum flowers are visible.
 The as yet uncleared  herbaceous border looks interesting in shades of brown, with multiple seedheads waving in the breeze, food for hungry birds.  On the long wall near the terrace the dangling buds of the Chilean shrub, Crinodendron hookerianum, promise a fine display of large red lanterns in early summer; too tender for cold inland gardens it can make a magnificent show in a sheltered spot in Aberdeen.  At the other end of the wall, by the gate through to the rock garden, the grey-green catkins of another wall shrub, the evergreen Garrya elliptica from California are already 6cm long and growing.

 Crinodendron hookerianum
in the CBG  photoRoma Fiddes

It is still too early for the spring feast of flower even in the rock garden area, though here again the shapes of trees both young and mature, the varied colours of the evergreens, the structure of the beds and  rock work all provide a pleasing leisurely food for the senses.  The weeping ‘Katsura tree’ Cercidiphyllum japonicum f. pendulum, looks particularly good by the lowest pool, and the large southern beech, Nothofagus obliqua with its four large trunks is always magnificent. So home to start planning for the long hot summer of 2013.  Hmmm!

David Atkinson

Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on March 28, 2013, 08:27:42 PM
30th Anniversary celebrations and Noel Pritchard Memorial Lecture  30th May -Speaker to be announced.

Full FCBG newsletter can be downloaded here (

Next FCBG  meeting is on 11th March 2013 - SRGC/FCBG members Ian and Clare Alexander have made a wonderful garden in Aberdeenshire and  Ian will tell us all about it.

Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on April 13, 2013, 03:15:00 PM
The  speaker for the evening of 30th Anniversary celebration of the FCBG is now confirmed as Timothy Walker, the Director of the University of Oxford Botanic Garden. His  subjectwill be "From Diaz to Diamonds" - Plants of South Africa.

At the AGM of the FCBG  on 11th April, David Atkinson was elected as President.

David, whose Garden Notes enliven this diary, has served a previous term as FCBG President which, like his period as Convenor of the SRGC Aberdeen Group, was so long ago, that none of us  can quite recall when it was!

Congratulations, David!
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on April 13, 2013, 03:18:46 PM
Cruickshank Garden Notes, end of March 2013

What a contrast to last year, when my spring meander round the Cruickshank garden was conducted in warm sunshine, with cheery groups of all ages enjoying the fresh air and abundant flowers. Though admittedly the temperature plummeted the first week of April when we had snow and more damagingly, serious frost which caught many rash plants unawares. No chance at the moment of plants getting ahead of themselves; the temperature is well below average and though the city is now snow free, we still have a good 15cm or so lying and disconsolate chickens at Craigievar.

So having descended through the snowline, I arrived at a chilly Cruickshank, with an icy wind and occasional sleet showers. The snowdrop hybrid, ‘Fred’s Giant’ is still flowering under the large beech by the Chanonry entrance but no daffodils are visible yet. The fresh green foliage of Allium ursinum, ramsons or wild garlic, provides attractive ground cover and its characteristic garlic odour, under the shrubs on the left, including an early-flowering pink un-named rhododendron whose blooms had miraculously escaped the frost. Ramsons, though attractive under trees and with culinary uses as flavouring in salads or cooked as a vegetable, is too invasive for ordinary garden purposes.

The large double gean, Prunus avium ‘Plena’ on the right and the smaller flowering cherry in front of the Auris building, Prunus ‘Moerheimii’ which was in full flower this time last year, are both well budded up waiting for warmer weather. The former peat beds, now rebuilt with logs rather than peat blocks are also waiting for warmer weather to enable replanting. The new path which has been opened to the old order beds and the attendant pruning give an interesting view across the wild-life pond and of the ‘ancient’ hedgerow where the skilful laying of the hedge can be appreciated.  The large witch hazel, Hamamelis mollis just beyond the new path is past its best but small petal-less red flowers can still be seen on its near relative Parrotia persica, whose pleasing patchwork bark is clearly visible at the moment – as it its ambition to swallow up the nearby path!

Past the weeping elm, Ulmus glabra ‘Camperdownii’ already in flower, the shrub border leading down to the boundary wall is the scene of much activity. Most of the understorey of Skimmia has been removed and I look forward to the replanting.  The two somewhat sad maidenhair trees and the ancient conifer, Ginkgo biloba are now easily seen, though I fear we need some global warming for them to thrive up here. Hellebores of various sorts provide pleasing floral punctuation marks through the garden; there are Helleborus orientalis in various colours and the very weather-resistant stinking hellebore, H. foetidus – though I can’t detect a strong smell in these cold conditions and the less hardy H. argutifolius with pleasant lime green flowers on rather floppy stems.

The foliage of dog’s tooth violets, Erythronium dens-canis are already visible in the bulb lawn at the bottom of the sunken garden, soon to be joined by other delights, crocus, miniature daffodils, fritillaries, orchids and more, all looking pleasingly natural coming through the grass. Beds round about are filling with the vivid blue of scilla, corydalis in various pleasing colours, trilliums and so on.

As usual the herbaceous border is neatly ready for action, last year’s foliage in a big pile in the compost area and shoots beginning to show, with a rather fine dark-leaved bergenia occupying the western  tip.  The terrace is hugely improved by the removal of the lowest branches of the big pine which had been increasingly overshadowing it and I look forward to a fine display  from the Paeonia rockii which should thrive with more  sun. Despite the bad winter, a specimen of the not entirely hardy curry plant, Helichrysum italicum seems to have survived in a pot here.

The Garrya elliptica by the gate through to the rock garden is wreathed in long grey catkins, looking good against  its grey-green evergreen leaves. Through the gate, even the rock garden is only just waking up after winter, with the early bulbs putting on a brave show with some support. The dwarf forsythia, F. viridissima ‘Bronxensis’ is already covered in yellow flowers.  The Cyclamen coum, nestling at the base of the large monkey puzzle tree are splendid, their fuchsia pink flowers a beacon of hope! Scilla, dwarf narcissus and early primula add to the display.

I hope that in the next set of notes I will be complaining about the heat and the problems of keeping plants alive through a long hot summer – hmm!
David Atkinson.
Title: Future of another Botanic Garden under threat
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on April 13, 2013, 03:27:16 PM
St. Andrews Botanic Garden

The future of St. Andrews Botanic Garden is under threat as a result of a proposed cut in funding. Fife Council leases the site from the University of St. Andrews and provides finance to run the Garden but new arrangements will  be needed as this is about to be significantly reduced.

A Steering Group has been set up and authorised by the Friends of the Botanic Garden, and is currently drafting a Business Plan for the future management of the Garden. This Plan will be considered by the University in June and must be approved by them before a future lease can be negotiated.
If you would like to help us keep this beautiful and important Garden open, please show your support by signing the petition

For further information and to consider signing a  petition (before  5th May) to save the Garden, see their website : (

Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on July 19, 2013, 02:28:37 PM
Head Gardener of the Cruickshank, Richard Walker with his wife Anne and family were in the press recently as they planted a tree in the arboretum in memory of their son Cameron who died tragically three years ago.


Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on July 19, 2013, 02:41:43 PM
Cruickshank Garden Notes – early July - David Atkinson

After a long drawn-out winter, it actually feels like summer; shorts and t-shirts are the order of the day and barbeque smells waft across the evening air.  Plants in general seem to be thriving and a late start with no unseasonal frosts means that growth has been steady and in some cases almost invisible! The barley in the fields around us, which was sown weeks later than usual, has already caught up and the foreshortening of the season has increased the visual impact of the floral display and allowed the enjoyment of combinations not usually seen.

Many trees and shrubs seem to be having a very good flowering year. Rhododendrons in many gardens were covered in bloom, rowans have flowered profusely in the countryside, as have gorse and broom, and early roses like ‘Canary Bird’ and Rosa moyesii forms are splendid, as indeed are the wild dog roses by roadsides.

So to the Cruickshank Garden on a pleasant warm morning, with foliage still looking fresh and new, birds singing, buds swelling and gardeners hard at work. The grass under the large beech, home to many snowdrops is now mown but in the bed beyond it the New Zealand iris relative, Libertia grandiflora (probably!) is seeding itself around. This evergreen perennial forming a large clump of erect, linear leaves, with clusters of white flowers borne on stiff stems in late spring and early summer, followed by conspicuous seed capsules, is best suited to this slightly rank situation – there are not quite enough flowers for the amount of foliage to my mind and indeed whilst it seems to thrive in Aberdeen, it’s not reliably hardy further inland.
The former peat beds – now log roll beds? – have a variety of pleasant primulae – P. secundiflora and P. burmanica enjoying the relatively cool conditions in a northish facing situation but even more striking is a giant lily Cardiocrinum giganteum var. yunnanense some two metres or so tall and about to open its large trumpet shaped flowers, white with pleasant purple stains at the base of the petals.  This bulb takes about five years to reach flowering size, when it flowers and dies, leaving a number of daughter bulbs as offsets. In my experience these daughter bulbs survive best if dug up in autumn and are established in pots before being planted out in a moist rich sheltered position, though the plant is hardy enough to stand winters inland.

Richard and the lily
There are (were?) some fine lettuces and other tempting delights in the new display vegetable garden, on the old ‘Order Bed’ area. Wandering past this new addition led me to the boundary wall by St. Machar Drive, where I noticed for the first time a fine specimen of the American maple Acer macrophyllum which does indeed have very spectacular leaves here, 30cm or so across but reaching 60cm in the wild. This species is native to North America from southern Alaska to southern California and if Wikipeda is to be believed, provides wood that is used for veneers in furniture and musical instruments and has similar concentrations of sugar in its sap as the sugar maple, A. saccharum but makes a differently flavoured syrup.
Just to the west of this tree, also next to the wall, a fine medlar Mespilus germanica is covered in relatively large white flowers over leathery leaves, whilst, further along in the rose garden the display is just beginning with the species rose R. moyesii, both ‘Sealing Wax’ and ‘Geranium’ flowering well, as the more refined roses are still getting into their stride.
The herbaceous border is also just coming on stream, becoming increasingly colourful day by day and all beautifully and almost in visibly staked, as usual. Geranium sylvaticum forms are striking as is the Geranium macrorhizum, which occupies the south-east corner of the border, gently smothering all opposition. A meadow rue, Thalictrum lucidum nearly two metres tall with good dark green foliage and sprays of yellow flowers also catches the eye as does a good American Jacob’s ladder, Polemonium foliossimum with lots of pleasant  bluey-purple flowers.

The terrace wall, photo Roma Fiddes 2010

On the terrace wall the fiery orange-red flowers of the Chilean fire bush, Embothrium lanceolatum stand out, though the tree itself  looks in danger of being smothered by the super vigorous climber Vitus coignetiae – the crimson glory vine. Below it the subtler charms of the bladder senna, Colutea x media ‘Copper Beauty’ with bronzey orange pea flowers can also be enjoyed. The nearby wisteria and Ribes speciosum – the fuchsia flowered gooseberry – have all but finished flowering as has the excellent tree paeony, P. rockii.
Ribes speciosum
,  photo Roma Fiddes 2010

The pools and stream in the rock garden are delightful on a warm day and the shapes of the trees and shrubs please even as the spring floral display lessens, though it is still worth a close look to spot late joys like the hardy gingers Roscoea humeana and the diminutive R. alpina.
So let’s hope that the present warm spell continues, with rain overnight a couple of times a week – perfect gardening weather!   
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on July 19, 2013, 03:00:55 PM
 More photos of trees and shrubs in the CBG from  June 2010 by Roma Fiddes here: (

One of Roma’s photos from 2010 showed Juniperus recurvus coxii :

Juniperus recurvus coxii

This past week vandals broke into the garden and set fire to a plastic bin in this fine tree burning the tree beyond saving and it has had to be removed. A sad and shocking thing to happen.

Report of the vandalism, again from the Press and Journal:

Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on July 19, 2013, 03:06:27 PM
The press report of the flowering of the Cardiocrinum earlier in the month was more cheerful news:



Copied from the Press and Journal of 6th July 2013

Title: Garden Open: Birken Cottage, Burnhervie
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on July 19, 2013, 03:46:31 PM
Garden Open with CBG connections!

Birken Cottage, Burnhervie     

This is the garden of Ian and Clare Alexander.  Ian is the retired Regius Professor of Botany at Aberdeen University and former Keeper of the Cruickshank Botanic Garden and Clare too, is a botanist. 
Open on Sunday  July 28 from 2-6pm. £4 entry
The steeply sloping one acre garden rises from a wet, streamside gully to woodland, past  sunny terraces and a small parterre to dry, flowery banks.
Packed with plants, this is its first season of opening to the public.
A proportion of the proceeds will go to the Cruickshank Botanic Garden. The Friends of the CBG enjoyed a talk on the creation of the garden earlier in the year.   
Burnhervie is three miles west of Inverurie. Leave Inverurie by the B9170, Blackhall  Road or the B993, St James’ Place.   
E-mail: Tel: 01467 623013
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on August 24, 2013, 07:09:54 PM
 The FCBG Lecture Programme 2013-14
Meetings are on THURSDAYS in the Zoology Building at 7.30pm 
Zoology Lecture Theatre, Zoology Building, Tillydrone Avenue ABERDEEN AB24 2TZ

  Everyone welcome!  FREE to Friends of the Cruickshank Botanic Garden.

   Non-members -donation at the door. 

10th October 2013    'On Auriculas'
Alison and Mark from Angus Plants ( give an overview of the history, cultivation and propagation of auriculas, describing many popular types of this delightful plant

14th November 2013 'Plant classification: Syzygium APG stories'
James Byng from Royal Botanic Gardens Kew (,-James.htm) describes his work revising the Myrtaceae genus Syzygium for Africa and India and explains the molecular APG plant family classification in everyday language

12th December 2013 'Plant hunting in North Vietnam'
Jamie Taggart from Linn Botanic Gardens Hellensburgh ( talks about temperate flora seen on his trip to North Vietnam in November 2011 and the acquisition of many new plant introductions

9th January 2014 'Growing organic: skills and practice'
Wendy Seel from Vital Veg ( in North Tillydaff Midmar gives experienced, practical insights into gardening organic

13th February 2014 'Honeybees and their hives in the Botanic Garden'
Ewan Campbell from the School of Biological Sciences Aberdeen ( talks about research on honey bees carried out at the University of Aberdeen and the purpose of the hives in the Cruickshank Botanic Gardens

13th March 2014 'RHS Lecture'
RHS Growing for Success ( lecture. The RHS are currently reviewing their lectures.

25th March 2014 'Birds in gardens- with sound effects!'
Stan da Prato Scottish Ornithologist's Club ( reveals the birds in our gardens and their songs. This is a joint meeting with the Scottish Rock Garden Club ( and please note it is on a TUESDAY

10th April 2014 'Fungi: friend or foe?'
Liz Holden from Grampian Fungus Group ( introduces us to the diversity of the kingdom of fungi explaining how fungi function all around us and, in the main, to our benefit.

8th May 2014 'Genetics, biodiversity and conservation'
Pete Hollingsworth from Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh ( describes his work on the evolution of plant biodiversity and the processes of taxonomic complexity and diversification
The Noel Pritchard Memorial Lecture

Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Maggi Young on January 23, 2014, 04:47:22 PM
St. Andrews Botanic Garden

The future of St. Andrews Botanic Garden is under threat as a result of a proposed cut in funding. Fife Council leases the site from the University of St. Andrews and provides finance to run the Garden but new arrangements will  be needed as this is about to be significantly reduced.

A Steering Group has been set up and authorised by the Friends of the Botanic Garden, and is currently drafting a Business Plan for the future management of the Garden. This Plan will be considered by the University in June and must be approved by them before a future lease can be negotiated.
If you would like to help us keep this beautiful and important Garden open, please show your support by signing the petition


The future of the St Andrews Botanic Garden seems secured  - ( ( ( (     "Vision for the Garden in 2019 "
and a Director is sought.... (
Title: Cruickshank Botanic Garden- Winter notes for January 2104
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on January 27, 2014, 01:30:15 PM
 Winter notes  January 2104- David Atkinson

So this is past Christmas, and what have we done. Another year over and a new just begun-well nearly, I’m writing this on a dreich New Year’s Eve. Time, perhaps, to take stock and reflect on the last 12 months in the garden. Somewhat tardily Spring finally appeared and stuck around with no relapses or late frosts, giving way graciously to a warm, sunny and dry summer. Plants late into growth flourished with no check and in general the floral display has been luxuriant. Vegetables which sulked in last year’s damp cold have thriven and many people had a fine crop of soft fruit. This warm summer has been followed by a mild and prolonged Autumn, helping to ripen wood in trees and shrubs against the rigours of winter, though the very strong winds of late somewhat colour this rosy picture. A lot of mature trees have been blown down, fences, walls and hedges destroyed or damaged, and a reminder given to many of how much we rely on electricity!So to the Cruickshank on a dark, dreich December day, with a stiff wind and driving rain making the juggling of notebook, pencil and umbrella a bit trying and diminishing the joy of being out in a garden. Still, there are pleasures to be found, and already signs of the new season can be spotted. The tips of spring bulbs are, for example, precociously poking through the grass under the big beech tree by the Chanonry entrance while on the other side of the path, the winter flowering Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ is already covered in sweet-smelling pink flowers- a must for any garden. The mass of rhododendrons to the north of this small lawn has been extensively pruned and a circular path through them established, revealing a fine specimen of Magnolia kobus, which I have failed to notice until now. This tree, native to forest areas of Japan, is closely related to the better known Magnolia stellata, but unlike this latter is taller growing and does not flower till it has reached an age of 12 to 15 years. The specimen here must be at least that old so keep your eyes peeled this April! The swelling buds on the various witch hazels, Hamamelis mollis cvs, near the path through to the weeping elm, will have opened by the time you read this as have those on the specimen planted near my front door, though it requires a still mild day for the sweet fragrance of its sulphur yellow spidery flowers to really fill the air. The weeping elm, Ulmus glabra ‘Camperdownii’, as yet unaffected by Dutch Elm Disease, is as pleasingly architectural with the tracery of its bare winter branches studded with the already swelling buds of its early wind pollinated reddish flowers. I note in passing, courtesy of Hillier’s Manual of Trees and Shrubs, an indispensable reference book even in our online world, that the ‘Dutchness’ of Dutch Elm Disease, does not connect it with the Dutch Elm, or imply that it originated in Holland, but refers to the fact that the early work on the disease was carried out there. So dull and wet was the day of my visit that the glistening white berries of, the snowberry, Symphoricarpos albus (probably), that fringe the southern edge of the sunken garden actually gave me momentary pleasure, my usual interaction with this plant, being attempts to eradicate its fiercely suckering thickets from mildly neglected gardens, its resurgent abilities admirable in a more desirable species. The first signs of spring bulbs in the bulb lawn at the bottom of the sunken garden are just visible, while a good pink form of the South African, Schizostylis coccinea- now properly Hesperantha coccinea- is bravely flowering away on the south facing slope. This species, whose flowers range from good reds through pink to white, seems much hardier in our conditions than is implied in reference books, and thrives in moist, but well-drained sunny conditions. There is also a fine planting opportunity for choice rock plants, on the west facing slope, created by the untimely demise of the conifer that previously occupied the site. There have not yet been severe enough frosts to cut down the splendid grey pinnate foliage of an another South African native, Melianthus major on the terrace, still giving off a peanut butter like smell from its bruised leaves. Further along the evergreen Killarney strawberry tree, Arbutus unedo, is covered with small white bell flowers. On the south side of the herbaceous border the newly extended and planted bed of deciduous azaleas promises a fine spring display. In the rock garden, you can find groups of Galanthus reginae-olgae, a lovely autumn-flowering snowdrop from the Taygetos Mountains of Southern Greece and more clumps of Hesperantha  coccinea. Though the flowers have gone, the beautifully marbled foliage of Cyclamen hederifolium is delightful in the dawn redwood bed, soon to joined by the flowers of its early spring flowering relative, Cyclamen coum. The weather as I write this is just as unpleasant as the day I visited the Cruickshank, so time for planning and gardening in the mind and hope for another warm summer.

David Atkinson
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on February 10, 2014, 06:00:56 PM
Employment Opportunity

Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Maggi Young on March 17, 2014, 06:10:56 PM
Next Friends of the CBG meeting is a joint one with the Aberdeen Rock Garden Club 9 Aberdeen SRGC) , with Stan da Prato.

Meanwhile, in Edinburgh a the RBGE , Mark Paterson, Curator of the  Cruickshank Botanic Garden gave atalk the other day..... "21st Century Gardening"
The 21st Century Garden with
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Maggi Young on March 17, 2014, 06:15:11 PM
Next Friends of the CBG meeting is a joint one with the Aberdeen Rock Garden Club (Aberdeen SRGC), on
Tuesday 25th March.
 This evening  will see the return to Aberdeen of Dr Stan da Prato who will talk on “Birds in Gardens”. Stan is involved in a number of conservation, horticultural and ornithological organisations. He is Chairman of the Advisory Group for Aberlady Bay Nature Reserve. In addition to being a Council Member for the National Trust for Scotland, he is also Vice President of the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society and edits its journal, the Caledonian Gardener. He has been closely involved in the construction of SRGC’s award winning stands at Gardening Scotland and with the pallet gardens displays there from local horticultural societies and is a Britain in Bloom Committee member. Stan is a past president of the SOC (Scottish Ornithologists' Club), editor of the journal Scottish Birds, and even finds time to serve on a golf club committee.  Quite how he ever had time for his career in education is a mystery - Stan is one of those folks whose day clearly consists of more than 24 hours!

This is a joint Meeting with the Friends of the Cruickshank Botanic Garden and will be held on the 25th March 2014 at the University of Aberdeen Zoology Department Lecture Hall, Tillydrone Avenue, Aberdeen, AB24 2TZ.

Meanwhile, in Edinburgh a the RBGE , Mark Paterson, Curator of the  Cruickshank Botanic Garden gave a
talk the other day..... " The 21st Century Garden"

Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on April 30, 2014, 07:29:24 PM
Cruickshank Garden Notes – Spring 2014
In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of twenty-four hours’ – Mark Twain.

This seems particularly appropriate as I sit at the computer glancing – well staring actually – out of the window at alternating periods of bright sunshine and brief blizzards.

As always the most surprising thing about our unpredictable weather is our continuing ability to be surprised by its unpredictability. This winter has been very mild indeed with no persistent frosts and very little snow at lower levels, while the higher ski resorts have been enjoying deep snow for several months. This combined with the warm summer last year means that the spring display has been early and rich. Crocuses ave been fully disporting themselves in the warmth, a profusion of snowdrops and early irises are being joined by narcissus and erythronium in cheery variety.

Thus the scene in the Cruickshank Garden when I visited is weeks in advance of the same time last year. In the wee patch of grass under the large beech tree by the Chanonry gate, the snowdrop ‘Fred’s Giant’ has long finished flowering and clumps of a pleasant bi-colour daff – invisible at this time last year – have taken over. On the other side of the pathway the recently emptied bed is being prepared for replanting, one of its few remaining denizens, a weeping ash, Fraxinus excelsior ‘Pendula’ looks well with its complex intertwining branches and swelling buds against the blue sky. The excellent flowering cherry, Prunus ‘Moerheimii’, by the Auris building, its wide-spreading branches hemmed in by by a tank of Argon and the demands of parking, is already wreathed in pale pink single flowers, soon to be joined by its neighbour, an unnamed cherry, with clusters of buds already showing colour along its stems. The cherry trio will be completed by the large double flowered gean, Prunus avium ‘Plena’ on the other side of the of the courtyard while nearby nestling in awarm, south-facing bed at the foot of the Cruickshank building, the winter flowering iris, Iris unguicularis  has a plethora of pale purple fragrant flowers. So warm was last summer that my specimen of this, also at the foot of a south wall has actually had three flowers this spring, making a grand total of some eleven flowers over twenty years, hmm. I have had more success with its close relative Iris lazica which flowers slightly later but much more regularly, likes more moisture and can stand light shade.

Various forms of polyanthus and primulas provide spring interest; there is a pleasant double burgundy-coloured one in the rebuilt former eat beds, and a good area full of Primula vulgaris ‘Quaker’s bonnet’ a pleasant lilac double in one of the beds by  the pathe to the weeping elm Ulmus glabra ‘Camperdownii’ which is itself already in flower with a profusion of purplish petal-less blooms. Passing by the bulb labyrinth, a profusion of crocus at the moment, my eye was caught by the bright yellow flowers of Mahonia x wagneri ‘Pinnacle’ thriving in the shade of deciduous trees in the shrub borader that leads down to St. Machar Drive.

On the west-facing side of this border at the north end a trio of viburnums are either flowering or about to, all with fragrant flowers ; Viburnum tinus, already flowering and waiting for its neighbours V. x burkwoodii ‘Anne Russell’ and ‘Pink Farm hybrid’.

A pleasant patch of dwarf daffodils, Narcissus minor (?) marks the way down to the sunken garden, where the bulb lawn is coming into its own, with patches of the dog’s tooth violet, Erythronium dens-canis particularly notable. A plant of Daphne bholua, a lovely early flowering evergreen for a sheltered spot, fills the air with the sweet scent off by its position in a blue sea of chionodoxa.

In the bed protected by the warm south-facing wall, the usually tender South African shrub Melianthus major hasn’t been cut down by the frost and its long grey pinnate leaves looks pleasingly exotic, while twenty plus buds on the Paeonia rockii, the sumptuous Chinese tree paeony, promise future delights.

The rock garden is full of delights at this time of year; as well as many patches of spring bulbs, snowdrops, dwarf daffodils, tulips etc, several early shrubs are spectacular. There is a fine Corylopsis spicata by the side of the stream. A relative of witch hazel, it sports racemes of of pendulous fragrant yellow flowers, but is currently failing to thrive at Craigievar. The dwarf forsythia, F. viridissima ‘Bronxensis’ (grown from seed in the New Yourk Botanic Garden in the Bronx) is covered in characteristic bright yellow flowers in the nearby island bed.  In the ‘Dawn Redwood’ bed, a group of the very hardy Cyclamen coum, with flowers from white to a fuchsia pink and pleasingly variable patterened leaves is thriving, as it the pink flowered crucifer, Cardamine pentaphylla, a gentle spreading early flowerer for a moist shady spot.

Finally, by the time you read this, the splendid large Rhododendron rex, the hardiest large leaved species should have opened its swelling flower buds. So let’s hope for another pleasant warm summer – and no disastrous late frosts.

David Atkinson
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Maggi Young on May 11, 2014, 04:18:16 PM
Yesterday was the RCBG sale at the Garden - this message has arrived from  Dick Morris the RCBG Treasurer  about the  results of the day:
"On behalf of the Committee of the Friends, I would like to thank all those who contributed to the success of yesterday's sale, as providers of plants, table setters/attendants and as customers.  We raised well over £1600 from the sale of plants, which together with card sales and some generous donations, takes the total for the day to over £1700.  I am sure you will agree that this is a more than respectable total, especially given the threatening weather before the event.
Please pass on this good news to any Friends you know;  the final details of the sale and an appraisal of the other May Festival events which the Friends organised/sponsored will be given in the next newsletter.

If you are interested in the coach trip to Insch/Leith Hall on 31 May, there were still some spaces available yesterday, but the deadline for booking is next weekend.


Dick Morris
Hon Treasurer "

The Friends of Cruickshank Botanic Garden is a charity registered in Scotland No. SCO04350

Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Roma on May 13, 2014, 03:50:28 PM
I had a quick walk round the Cruickshank Garden on Friday afternoon after dropping off some plants for the sale.
Some of the Rhododendrons were looking good

I think this was a bit of a mystery when we got it.  As far as I remember it was a seed raised rhodie from Ian Christie and should have been similar to keiskii 'Yaku Fairy'
Update:  Ian tells me it is named 'Oban'

Rhododendron davidsonianum
Rhododendron luteum
Rhododendron yunnanense
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Roma on May 13, 2014, 03:59:54 PM
Had a problem with the size of one file there.  I am using Microsoft Office Picture Manager and find compressing the pictures can make the rather small.  I have been having to crop some after resizing to get them under 200K and thought I had checked them all but missed one there.
More Rhodies
Rhododendron 'Elizabeth
Rhododendron labelled fortunei hybrid
Rhododendron fortunei
Rhododendron oreotrephes
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Roma on May 13, 2014, 04:06:57 PM
Last two Rhodos
I think the first one is Rhododendron 'Peace'
The second is one of my favourites Rhododendron triflorum mahoganii, a Kingdon Ward collection.  Its greeny yellow and brown flowers are not spectacular but have a quiet charm  My taste in plants includes the subtle, the garish and everything in between
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Roma on May 13, 2014, 08:30:39 PM
A few more
Rhododendron obtususm
Corokia cotoneaster  - the wire netting plant -  I love the feel of this plant.  It looks as if it would be quite stiff but it feels bouncy and rubbery.
Daphne retusa
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Roma on May 13, 2014, 08:34:56 PM
Fritillaria meleagris
Fritillaria pyrenaica   These were in the same photo but I had to crop it twice to get two pics under 200kb
Geranium phaeum
Hylomecon japonica
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Yann on May 13, 2014, 08:35:28 PM
One word : fantastic
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Roma on May 13, 2014, 08:40:35 PM
Against a south facing wall
Paeonia rockii hybrid and
Melianthus major which must have enjoyed the mild winter
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Roma on May 13, 2014, 08:44:09 PM
Last two
Ribes speciosum
Crinodendron hookerianum  -  I have never seen it with so many flowers
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: ichristie on May 14, 2014, 07:38:01 AM
Hello Roma, great pictures your Rhodo is Oban and it was given to me years ago as a seedling. I was at the Garden on Friday looked good was also involved with the May-Fest did a Meconopsis workshop and digital show thunder and lightning on the way up maybe telling me something? cheers Ian the Christie kind
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Roma on May 14, 2014, 12:48:06 PM
Thanks, Ian.  I have 'Oban' at home, bought far more recently and thought it looked similar.
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: johnw on May 14, 2014, 04:29:53 PM
Roma  - I'm always at a loss when it comes to describing colour.   It's quite unique in the dwarf lepidotes.  Especially so in the colour range of that 'Oban' and I wonder what you would call it?

Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: David Nicholson on May 14, 2014, 07:31:23 PM
I know very little about Rhododendrons but would like to learn more is there an "idiot's " guide anyone could recommend to me to read please? Are the lepidotes usually available in the UK nursery trade and are they lime haters or could they cope with a fairly neutral soil?

PS: Sorry for littering the Cruickshank thread.
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Maggi Young on June 05, 2014, 09:54:25 AM
David, there are many lepidote rhodos available  - and many will be content with  a neutral soil.
Wonderful plants!!!
 Cox'  "Dwarf Smaller Rhododendrons" is a good starting place. I'll find details and send  to you.

Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Maggi Young on June 05, 2014, 09:55:45 AM
I've just discovered that the CGB is involved in trials for the RBGE "really wild vegetables" project - not sure if they are wild or just furious!! ;) ;D
 Read more here
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: ashley on June 05, 2014, 11:25:00 AM
Cox'  "Dwarf Rhododdendrons" is a good starting place.
The various categories offered by Glendoick are listed here ( David, including dwarf/lepidotes. 
Mouthwatering to say the least.
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: johnw on June 05, 2014, 02:29:16 PM
Maggi - I think you meant the more up-to-date version The Smaller Rhododendrons though Dwarf Rhododendrons is a particular favourite despite the old nomenclature.  In the latter, back in the 70's we had to envision so much from the line drawing...visions of sugar plums eh.  Also don't forget good old The Peat Garden & Its Plants, responsible for my fall into this vortex of madness.  And David the lepidote guru is just up the hill in Drewsteignton, though on a bigger hill nr. Burma at the moment.

Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Maggi Young on June 05, 2014, 02:47:31 PM
You're right, John, thanks.  :)
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on August 02, 2014, 02:10:02 PM
      Cruickshank Garden Notes, Summer 2014

What a wonderful display of flowering trees and shrubs has graced us this spring and early summer. Rhododendrons have been smothered in flower, lilacs covered in richly scented blooms and the whitebeams, a favoured street tree in much of Aberdeen are magnificent, their greyish white spring foliage setting off the ample heads of white flowers. The buds on roses and clematis suggest that this abundant display will be carried forward into full summer.
All this is, I guess, the result of the unusually warm summer last year to ripen wood and initiate buds, followed by a very mild winter and no serious late frosts, though on the downside, pests have had a similarly easy time, and I have noticed a lot more greenfly and earlier in the season than usual - and an outbreak of lily beetle in my garden for the first time, hmm.So to the Cruickshank which is also robustly floriferous - a delightful place for a sunny stroll- where, breaking the habit of many years, 
I started my tour in the rock garden, looking charming on a sunny day (the rock garden not me that is). At the top the large shrubby Japanese crab apple Malus sargentii, forms a mound of white blossom, elsewhere the two closely Daphnes  D. retusa and D. tangutica are both scenting the air with myriad rose-purple flowers. Both evergreen and both excellent garden plants for sun or light shade, the former is more slow-growing, more compact with shorter leaves forming pleasing domes of dark green foliage.  Note also, the South American shrub Azara lanceolata, bearing multitudes of small mustard-yellow flowers.  Azara is a small genus of evergreen shrubs or small trees from Chile and Argentina, attractive in sheltered gardens - too tender at Craigievar - the hardiest of which A. microphylla bears lots of tiny yellow vanilla-scented flowers in early spring.

In the south east corner of the rock garden, the hardiest of the large-leaved rhododenrons, R rex is thriving despite quite deep shade, its large leathery leaves framing trusses of bell-shaped rose coloured flowers with an attractive basal crimson blotch, while nearby in the bed under the dawn redwoods, the primula relative, Dodecatheon pulchellum with  bright pink reflexed flowers like a cyclamen and Dicentra spectabilis, ‘Bleeding heart’ thrive amid the bulb foliage.

The trees at the eastern end of the rock garden are also worth a closer look; the magnificent multi-stemmed southern beech, Nothofagus ( I’m afraid I’ve forgotten the species), an elegant monkey puzzle Araucaria araucana, an ‘Ohio Buckeye’ Aesculus glabra - a horse chestnut relative, with yellow-green flower spikes and in the border next to the kitchen garden the elegant Koelreuteria paniculata - aka ‘Pride of India’ or ‘Golden Rain Tree’, with splendid pinnate leaves, though according to Hilliers only flowering after hot dry summers (fingers crossed?).

The shrubs against the warm south-facing wall are also responding to the benign conditions last year and this.  Piptanthus nepalensis, ‘Evergreen laburnum’ is very pleasing with its large yellow pea flowers, an excellent shrub, reasonably hardy even inland given some shelter.  I have never seen so many buds on the Wisteria sinensis here and by now it should be fully in flower and magnificent.  Next to it the Californian currant, Ribes speciosum, with red fuchsia-like flowers is lovely, while the Chilean Fire Bush, Embothrium coccineum, though in flower is looking rather unhappy. 
Enjoy also the sumptuous flowers on the tree paeony, P. rockii, enjoying more light in the corner of the terrace now some branches have been removed from the pine above it.  Kerria japonica in its rarer – and more pleasing single flowered form is also thriving here. On the other side of the herbaceous border, itself about to get into its stride and well-staked in anticipation, beyond the newly extended and colourful azalea bed Acer griseum, the ‘Paperbark Maple’ stands out, its peeling coppery bark easier to enjoy now that there is more light. 

Note one more tree, on the other side of the path from the peat beds, the interesting and unusual graft hybrid +Laburnocytisus adamii.  Some branches bear yellow laburnum flowers, whilst others have dense congested clusters of purple-flowered broom, while many other branches produce flowers of an intermediate coppery-pink shade.  If you missed it this year, just look at the magnificent photograph illustrating May in the Friends’ calendar.

TThere remain many more unmentioned delights so do go and enjoy a hopefully sunny walk and let’s hope this summer is as warm as last.

David Atkinson

Edit by CF : apologies for the odd changes of font - something happening beyond my ken.
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on September 18, 2014, 09:44:37 PM
Cruickshank Notes - Autumn 2014

So it is officially Autumn, and certainly feels that way as wind and rain shake the first of the Autumn leaves from the trees, berries abound, the temperature drops and days shorten. Autumn tints become more prevalent, Victoria plums are ripe and delicious and heavy crops of sweet blackberries can be grazed.
The early Spring , no serious late frosts and in general adequate rainfall have suited many plants; roses have bloomed well, agapanthus have been glorious, and hydrangeas are flowering well even in shade. A fine 20 year old specimen of Davidia involucrata, the 'Pocket Handkerchief Tree', in a garden I visit regularly, flowered magnificently for only the second time in its life; its white papery bracts fluttering for a good three weeks before falling, to be followed by a good crop of fruits which will hopefully prove to be fertile. Our freezer is full of currants, red, white and black awaiting processing.

The mists of Autumn were certainly in evidence the day I visited the Cruickshank Garden, leaving the sunshine of Craigievar for the murk of Aberdeen, and the subdued pleasures of a garden on a grey, overcast day. Whilst there is obviously still much to enjoy, the earliness of  Spring and the relative warmth of much of Summer means that there is less actual flower power than is usual for late August. The angel's fishing rods, Dierama pendulum, in the rock garden in full flower this time last year, are now just waving brown seed heads in the breeze whilst Cyclamen hederifolium nearby are luxuriant compared to last year.

Presiding over the newly planted grass bed by the Chanonry entrance, the elegant small rowan Sorbus forrestii, both introduced by and named in honour of George Forrest the plant hunter, holds a fine crop of small, glistening, white berries, whilst further on in the courtyard a much larger multi-stemmed Sorbus cashmeriana is adorned with clusters of much larger white berries. The dark leaved phormium in the central 'notice board' bed has clearly flowered well as are the white agapanthus beneath it. The Parrotia persica and Acer tartaricum, on either side of the path through to the old order beds are turning reddish and orangey-yellow respectively, the latter carrying a fine crop of winged seed.

The clearing of the shrub border leading down to St. Machar Drive, means the splendid specimen of the Japanese umbrella pine, Sciadopitys verticillata, can be better appreciated. This is a very hardy slow-growing conical conifer, thriving even in shade, a pleasing architectural plant, well worth considering. Next to it, a pleasant specimen of the North-American hawthorn, Crataegus succulenta, is carrying a heavy crop of large red haws, though I tried one, and dry and bitter would be a better description than succulent! Its neighbour a mature crab apple, Malus 'John Downie' is managing to support an equally large crop of fruit despite having lost much of its foliage - to apple scab, I guess.

Further along this same border a fine specimen of Eucryphia x nymansensis 'Nymansay' is blooming beautifully with large white many-stamened flowers. This is a fine evergreen hybrid between two South American species, needing shelter and sun and though it does well in Aberdeen, it is not reliably hardy further inland. To the left next to the boundary large orange autumnal leaves were gently falling from an Oregon Maple, Acer macrophyllum, a handsome tree with leaves a good 30cm. long. Nearby a sad looking specimen of Sorbus sargentiana clings to life; potentially a handsome small tree with large pinnate foliage and characteristic sticky buds, it seems not to enjoy life in our area.  I have two similarly poor creatures at home.
There are little groups of the autumn bulb colchicum in various beds and borders in the garden, but they probably look at their best when their slender stems are supported by the grass in the bulb lawn in the sunken garden - as they would be in nature. In a bed by the lawn the striking poisonous fruits of Podophyllum hexandrum, like large, bright red plums, are very pleasing, as is nearby the willow gentian, Gentiana asclepiadea.  A plant largely of open woodland in the wild, it is surprisingly versatile in the garden in a reasonably moist soil, even succeeding with me in meadow conditions.
The bladder senna, Colutea x media, near the summer house, is as usual blooming well with charming coppery pea flowers, whilst the ailing Embothrium coccineum, behind it has been cut back severely but will hopefully spring back to its former glory.  Close by on the terrace, the not entirely hardy South African shrub, Melianthus major, is magnificent with luxurious large grey pinnate peanut-scented foliage. Further along Crinum powellii has a fine spike of large pure white flowers, whilst the Paeonia rockii, nearby, such a delight in Spring, is looking rather unhappy - fingers crossed for its survival!

Embryonic catkins can already be seen on the grey-leaved Garrya elliptica, by the gate through to the rock garden, only 2-3cm. long now, but they can grow to nearly 30cm. in length as winter draws on. A plant of the western seaboard of America, Garrya can do well even in some shade, though is not hardy enough for life inland.

In the rock garden area groups of Cyclamen hederifolium, and Colchicum cvs, are thriving, Astilbe chinensis is still throwing up short spikes of clustered purple flowers and self-seeding purple loosestrife, Lythrum salicaria, a British native, fringe the bottom pond. The ageing Abies koreana, at the western end of the Metasequoia bed is still managing to carry a fair crop of dark blue cones. Finally, for the future, a young tulip tree, Liriodendron tulipifera has been planted; a relative of magnolias, this tree has remarkable shaped leaves, and is delightful in flower, though trees can take twenty years to flower and we are rather at the northern edge of where it can survive.
Now it's time to enjoy the blowsiness of Autumn and the illusion of control that Winter brings, and make comforting resolutions for the coming year.                                                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                            David Atkinson

Next FCBG meetings :

October 9th Alastair Griffiths -Ornamental plants with benefits

October 25th (Saturday) Plant Sale in the Garden 10.30 am to 12noon

November 13th  John Mattingley - Cluny Gardens- gardening with nature December 11th David Pirie - Herbs in humoral medicine
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on September 19, 2014, 11:51:40 AM
A short film on the Cruickshank Botanic Garden with commentary from Curator, Mark Paterson, from Feb.2014. Loaded to Youtube by Richard Hamilton

Cruickshank Botanic Gardens (

 "The Friends of the Cruickshank Botanic Garden travel to Kirriemuir on their annual trip in 2012. Here we see glimpses of the day at: Christie's Alpine Nursery in Westmuir and Cortachy Castle Gardens. What a delightful day out."
Film from Colette Jones
Friends of the Cruickshank Botanic Garden 2012 Coach Trip (

Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on September 19, 2014, 11:58:35 AM
More Cruickshank Friends' films from Collette  Jones
Friends in the Garden April 2013Friends in the Garden April 2013 (

Friends of Cruickshank Botanic Garden visit Donside gardens May 2013
Friends of Cruickshank Botanic Garden visit Donside gardens May 2013 (

Cruickshank Botanic Garden Plant Sale Spring 2013

Cruickshank Botanic Garden Plant Sale Spring 2013 (

30th Anniversary: Friends of Cruickshank Botanic Garden

30th Anniversary: Friends of Cruickshank Botanic Garden (
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on September 19, 2014, 12:20:25 PM
I have been remiss not to introduce the  member of the Garden Team at the Cruickshank Botanic Gardens - Skilled Horticulturalist, BEN CLANSEY - this charming young man is enjoying life in Aberdeen and his work at the Criuickshank. He has some Forum connection already - he was a fellow student of Forum Star, Susan Sleep - this photo, (shared by Maggi Y.) is of Ben and Susan hard at work during their studies:


Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on October 21, 2014, 04:15:03 PM
On Saturday 25th October there is a Friends of the Cruickshank B.G.  plant sale

Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Maggi Young on October 29, 2014, 02:15:21 PM
Edible Gardening Project 
Really Wild Veg – Cruickshank Botanic Garden October (   8)

Josh and Mark at CBG - photo from RBGE stories

See other reports here : (
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on January 16, 2015, 05:14:55 PM
Cruickshank notes, late December 2014

Another year has flown by and as I write these notes in a brief languid interval in the hectic schedule of Christmas and New Year celebrations, days are already lengthening and signs of resurgent growth can be seen. In my garden a witchhazel, Hamamelis mollis ‘Pallida’ has just opened its first flowers, a Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ has been flowering since mid-October and shoots of many different bulbs - iris, snowdrops, narcissus and even some trilliums - are clearly visible.  Catkins are well advanced on alder, hazel and birch and it is all too easy to imagine on a mild day that Spring is on the way, though as we know there is still a long way to go.  Personally I would vote for a short, sharp winter to help reduce the pest populations - we had significantly more aphids this summer after the mild winter, then followed by the next three seasons in the right order!

Having sneaked into the Cruickshank Garden from a neighbouring garden I was working in, I will start my tour in the rock garden, where the absence of leaves on the deciduous trees gives a curiously light and airy feel despite the lowness of the sun. The overall mildness this autumn has encouraged some plants to continue flowering and others to produce an unseasonal flurry of bloom. There are groups of pink Schizostylus coccinea, a South African iris relative and much hardier than normally claimed, a Daphne retusa – normally spring flowering - is covered in fragrant flowers, a group of yellow primulae clearly think it is Spring and the evergreen shrub Viburnum tinus is covered with clusters of small pinky-white blooms.  The area in the northwest corner of the rock garden has been largely cleared providing a fine opportunity for replanting and I look to the delights that will hopefully flourish there.

The three dawn redwoods, Metasequoia glyptostroboides, in the bed at the south east corner of the rock garden are showing off their pleasing twisted trunks and general elegance, whilst beneath them the marbled leaves of Cyclamen hederifolium merit attention.  Next year’s fat flower buds are clearly visible on the rhododendrons in the shady southern border, promising a fine show in late Spring.
The catkins on the Californian evergreen Garrya elliptica, just to the right of the gateway through the wall at the bottom of the rock garden, are a good 15cm. long , whilst against the wall on the other side of the gate Mahonia x media ‘Charity’ has already finished flowering, leaving long spikes of developing seeds. Further along this wall, the Killarney strawberry tree, Arbutus unedo - a native of the Mediterranean and south west Ireland - is covered with small white bells to be followed by (not very) strawberry-like red fruits.

So mild had the Autumn been when I visited the garden, that the spectacular South African shrub, Melianthus major, with its large  silver-grey pinnate leaves has actually produced spikes of dark crimson flower buds, though whether they will open fully is doubtful.  The formerly splendid Chilean Fire Bush, Embothrium coccineum, near the summer house still looks mysteriously ill - fingers crossed for its recovery!  This is a magnificent sight when covered with its profuse scarlet flowers and can flourish as far inland as Kildrummy garden but not, unfortunately, despite a fair few attempts, at Craigievar.

In the bed at the east end of sunken garden the splendid winter-flowering and very fragrant Daphne bholua, is already scenting the air.  This is a lovely, evergreen shrub flourishing in town in a reasonably sheltered and sunny spot.  Specimens I planted at Craigievar have twice succumbed in severe winters, but there is a deciduous and reputedly very hardy form, D. bholua var. glacialis ‘Gurkha’ which offers me hope.
The hedges round the rose garden look straight out of a textbook, beautifully trim and shapely, tapering gently from base to apex whilst he charms of the species rich ‘ancient’ hedgerow, which runs from the weeping elm to the pond, are altogether more rugged, if no less effective.

All in all, it is a time to enjoy the shapes, structures and architecture of gardens as much as the individual plants and to plan exciting innovations for the coming year, while enjoying the illusion of control that the close season brings.                                                                                                  David Atkinson


Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on April 29, 2015, 08:37:16 PM
The Plant Sale is on Saturday 9th May, and we depend on our members to supply the material to make the sale a success. 
Please deliver any plants that you are donating to the sale to the Botanic Garden on Friday 8th or before 0930h on Saturday morning.
Please help to publicise the sale.

Friends of the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Registered Scottish Charity SC004350
Cruickshank Botanic Garden (
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on May 12, 2015, 10:54:27 AM
This week’s talk, The Noel Pritchard Memorial Lecture, will be given by David Rae.  David recently retired as Director of Horticulture and Learning at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and is now the part-time Director of the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust.  David is especially interested in the role of botanic garden horticulture in not only creating beautiful gardens, but also in underpinning research, conservation and education. In 2011 he published the book The Living Collection to explain the way in which botanic gardens’ plant collections are curated to support these functions.

Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on May 15, 2015, 03:52:02 PM
A new idea from the FCBG :

A competition for a short video made in the Cruickshank Garden, Aberdeen


Competition rules    [attachurl=2]

 Comp. submission form  [attachurl=3]
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on May 18, 2015, 09:03:21 PM
A report on a visit to the garden from Annette Murty: (

8)  (

and on the Plant Sale : (

Edit : sorry posted this link in error    (
      first link above now corrected.
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on May 21, 2015, 03:53:04 PM
Keen Aberdeen photographer David John Brazendale has shown some fine photos from a recent visit to the Cruickshank  on the  Friends of Cruickshank Botanic Garden Facebook page and has kindly agreed to them being shown here. 

One of the famous weeping Elms

Honesty flower




Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on May 21, 2015, 03:58:54 PM
David J. Brazendale leads us along some of the garden paths





Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on May 21, 2015, 04:01:04 PM
The garden is looking lush at this time





Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on May 21, 2015, 04:11:20 PM
The garden is tucked away in Old Aberdeen but is still right in the heart of the University - this shot  shows the  nearby "Sir Duncan Rice Library"  (http://
viewed from the garden - the camera foreshortens the distance - the building is at least 300m away  ;)


Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on August 23, 2015, 09:02:33 PM
Cruickshank Garden Notes - Summer 2015

As I sit here on the evening of the summer solstice, with two jumpers on and an electric fire to hand just in case, the phrase ‘flaming June’ pops into mind with gentle longing for balmy weather, sunny evenings and casual warmth. But I discover, thanks to goggle-displacement activity that is far too easy on a computer, that ‘Flaming June’ was originally nothing to do with early summer heat; rather, it was the title of an aesthetic late-Victorian painting by the artist Fredric Lord Leighton featuring  a sleeping ‘languid, titian-haired, orange-clad’ young woman. Anyway June, with the exception of about three days, has been anything but flaming and May was equally cold with a succession of late frosts after a warm April which encouraged unwise precocious growth.

So to the Cruickshank on a grey cold evening - still a pleasant oasis despite the weather, passing by what looks suspiciously like giant hogweed among the ornamental grasses in the refurbished bed on the left as you enter by the Chanonry  gate. The rhododendrons here which were savagely cut back in the renovation are now showing good re-growth and the elegant small Chinese rowan, Sorbus forrestii, is in the process of turning its flowers into autumn clusters of small white berries.
In the square bed in front of Cruickshank building, just in front of the bed full of the winter flowering Iris unguicularis - with a dangerously expanding self-sown pampas grass in it - two specimens of probably the hardiest cistus C. laurifolius can be seen. This cistus can make a tall shrub and thrives even well inland in a sunny situation and a well-drained poorish soil, the same conditions enjoyed by its neighbour in this bed, the attractive grey-leaved (and not totally hardy) small shrub, Convolvulus cneorum.
In the nearby beds where logs have replaced the previous peat walls, a slightly unhappy looking ‘giant lily’, Cardiocrinum giganteum can be seen while the New Zealander, Bulbinella hookeri, with spikes of yellow flowers over bronzed foliage is thriving, and this whole bed as many other areas in the garden is enhanced by self-sown ‘volunteers’, Dame’s Violet - Hesperis matronalis and a splendidly diverse swarm of columbines - Aquilegia sp.
Nearby, on the other side of the path the fascinating graft-chimaera+Laburnocytisus ‘Adamii’ ( see ( more information) is just coming into flower, clusters of purple broom, dangling racemes of laburnum and intermediate flowers of coppery pink. The newly extended deciduous azalea beds are a riot of fiery oranges and reds enhanced by the cinnamon coloured bark of the paper-bark maple, Acer griseum, a fine hardy if slow-growing small tree and a reliable bet even inland with some wind shelter and tolerant of partial shade.

In the bed at above the sunken garden at its eastern end, blue and white meconopsis, M. grandis and M. betonicifolia, are complemented by purple and almost black forms of the lovely Iris chrysographes, its falls decorated with golden veining whence its specific name. In the pool beyond the crocus labyrinth, the native yellow flag iris, I. pseudacorus is in full flower while towards the boundary wall, mysterious holes in the lawn with baskets in them betoken some scientific enquiry- or a meeting of the local coven. Just past these the medlar, Mespilus germanica, its understorey cleared and skirts raised, is showing off its large white flowers to be followed by allegedly edible brown fruits. In the long shrub and tree border which runs at right angles to St Machar drive, the Chilean fire bush, Embothrium coccineum is thriving with a profusion of scarlet flowers near a rather sadder Gingko biloba which dreams, I fear, of rather more southerly climes. I have, despite too many attempts, failed to get Embothrium to establish with me, though annoyingly, it does very well in the colder, though sheltered conditions of Kildrummy gardens.

Roses were only just starting to flower when I visited with the species R. moyesii with single red flowers and R. xanthina ‘Canary Bird’ in yellow, standing out. The newly planted roses in the bed at the north end are too recent to make much of a show this year.

In the sunken garden a Cardiocrinum giganteum is well on the way to flowering, its sturdy 2m stem about to bear large trumpet flowers after which the mother bulb will die leaving - as well as seed - a cluster of daughter bulbs, which I find have a better chance of thriving if dug up and replanted in fresh soil rather than left in situ. At the top North western end of this area, another bulb, the bright red Tulipa sprengeri is thriving and self-sowing. This species, which enjoys cooler damper conditions than most tulips, spreads easily once established and doesn’t take long to reach flowering size from seed.
The herbaceous border is already well-staked and the early paeonies, pyrethrum, geraniums etc. give a foretaste of the colourful display to come. A group of white foxtail lilies Eremurus sp. are particularly noteworthy. A variegated blue-flowered comfrey, probably Symphytum x uplandicum is very striking, though too vigorous for a small border and an early fragrant yellow day-lily pleases as well. On the north side of this border you can find the unusual birthwort, Aristolochia clematitis with strange pale yellow tubular flowers. Despite its former herbal use it is highly toxic and has been responsible for many cases of kidney failure.

Against the warm wall the wisteria has splendid 60cm long racemes of whitish purple tipped flowers, the currant Ribes speciosum, is covered in red fuchsia-like flowers and Abutilon x suntense has a fine display of large pale purpleblooms.

There is too much to see in the rock garden area to give a comprehensive survey but do wander along the paths at the top (as well as everywhere else!) and enjoy the variety of shrubs and the views over the rest of the garden enhanced by the removal of a large tree in the middle of the bottom border. Then wander home and hope for some balmy summer days!       

David Atkinson
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on September 25, 2015, 04:28:49 PM
 Cruickshank Garden Notes – Autumn 2015  by David Atkinson
Well, it seems we arrive in Autumn without passing through Summer; the temperature has desended from disappointing to almost glacial, nights are distinctly drawing in and mists and not very mellow fruitfulness are just around the corner.  On the upside, the cooler temperatures meant that flowers have lasted a lot longer allowing pleasing juxtapositions that wouldn’t have occurred in a warmer year and plenteous availability of water means trees and shrubs have grown apace. It has been a good year for roses and a range of other shrubs, with bushes and climbers producing copious flowers marred only by the paucity of warm dry weather to enjoy them.
So to the Cruickshank Garden, starting in the rock garden this time, where wiping the last of the drizzle from my glasses, I’m struck by how well this area was set out nearly 50 years ago, as you can see in September’s picture in the Friends’ calendar, where the  rocks and beds seem to have been revealed  rather than placed.  The intense floral display of late Spring has passed and only odd patches of flowers punctuate the green tapestry. A hardy member of the ginger family, Roscoea  humeana with largeish almost orchid-like pink flowers can be seen in several places.  This, like most others of this Himalayan and Chinese genus, enjoys a well-drained but humus rich soil in a sunny or half-shady position. Thy emerge late and so usually avoid damage from late frosts, but a label is necessary so that a gardener in search of a planting opportunity  doesn’t dig up the dormant tubers! The name honours William Roscoe, the founder of the Liverpool  Botanic Garden and a leading ablishionist and writer. The very elegant South African member of the iris family, Dierama pulcherrimum ,  Angel’s Fishing Rods also thrives here – self-sowing with a keen aesthetic sense, its long slender stems and rosy-purple bell-shaped flowers standing up well to the North-East winds. This plant seems to need a sunny spot to flower well and thrives in a number of gardens I have visited though not, alas, mine. However and distressingly, I found a white form flourishing in a neighbour’s garden this summer so worth another try!
The splendid multi-stemmed southern beech, Notofagus obliqua,  looks none the worse  for its surgery, while while the once splendid Abies koreana  is distinctly senescent. Patches of Cyclamen hederifolium with flowers of varying shades of pink through to white and wonderfully diverse marbled leaves, hang around the skirts of this fir and the pond is set ff by stands of the native purple loosestrife, Lythrum salicaria.  The lare holly  by the gate through to the herbaceous border has been cut right down and with the removal of some of the large trees to the south, the bottom shrub border is now much sunnier and it will be interesting to see how the rhododendrons etc. here respond to this change of circumstance.
As always the herbaceous border is showing the benefit of timely staking and even in its tallest eupatoriums in purple and white , hollyhocks , including a fine  near-black variety and so on are all pretty upright – I wish this was a lesson I could take to heart!
Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ probably the most reliable performer of its kind, is proudly and vividly red, Phlox paniculata is thriving in a variety of colours including a splendid rich purple variety, while the Mahdi and Japanese anemones thread their floriferous way through their neighbours.
The South African bed in the sunken garden is adorned with blue Agapanthus  and the reddish tubular flowers of the Cape Figwort, Phygelius capensis. This suckering shrub often behaves as  an herbaceous perennial in cold areas, though it flowers well in the chill of Craigievar. Various specimens of the true blue willow gentian, Gentiana asclepiadea can be found here as well, and in some significant shade under the rhododendrons on the south side, the orangey berries of the woodlander, Disporum smithii are developing well. 
 The newly planted roses in the shrub rose beds in the rose garden are thriving and I think we can legitimately hope for a reasonable display next year. All around berries and fruits are developing and colouring up so wrap up warm and enjoy a stroll with even half a hope of an Indian summer.
 D. A.

Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Maggi Young on November 15, 2015, 03:33:16 PM
Take a look at the three prize-winning films from our first ever FCBG Film Competition. The 2015 competition had the theme 'the feeling of the garden'.

Winners Gregor Ksiazek, Bálint Danyi and Erwan Elias each received £100 and opportunities to work with Tern TV Beechgrove Garden and SHMU. 

(this link to full youtube page (  ) (
Erwan Elias' film (
Balint Danyi's film with model, Alexandra Vincze (

Ciro Art Studio
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on November 27, 2015, 01:36:59 PM
Meetings  Programme for FCBG
  The Lecture Programme 2015-16 THURSDAYS at 7.30 pm in the Biological and Environmental Sciences Building
 Zoology Lecture Theatre, Biological and Environmental Sciences Building (previously Zoology Building), Tillydrone Avenue ABERDEEN AB24 2TZ map (  Everyone welcome!  FREE to Friends of the Cruickshank Botanic Garden. Non-members -donation at the door.  Refreshments available in the foyer after the lecture at approximately 9pm.
 The Lecture Programme is compiled by Clare and Ian Alexander.  Save your Thursday evening on the second Thursday of the month from October to May for informed, colourful and inspiring talks!


14th January 2016 'The science of colour in the garden'
Martin Barker, School of Biological Sciences University of Aberdeen (, explains why, how and when plants form colours and explores how gardeners use and perceive colour- an important attribute of any garden.
11th February 2016 'Composting on a national scale'
Rachel Reid, environmental and compliance officer at Keenan Recycling Ltd (, talks about scaling up the natural processes of composting to provide organics recycling services for businesses, private customers and local government authorities.
10th March 2016 'Collecting hardy plants in northern Vietnam'
Sue and Bleddyn Wynn-Jones, Crug Farm Plants (, discuss their plant collecting trips in the high mountains of northern Vietnam where they find plenty of hardy plants to grow in their multi-award winning plantsman's nursery in North Wales. (This is a joint meeting with the Aberdeen branch of the Scottish Rock Garden Club.)
14th April 2016 'Around the world in 80 plants'
John Owen, Askival Alpines ( Fort Augustus, takes us on a world tour in plants from all corners of the globe! The garden as Askival is a treasure trove of alpines that thrive in the wet of Fort Augustus. 
12th May 2016 'Keeping the show on the road'
The Noel Pritchard Memorial Lecture is given by Helen Dillon who tells the story of a Dublin garden ( nurtured over 44 years. Helen explains her role as creator rather than curator and how gardens must evolve and change. She describes the agony of combining all-consuming love of plants with desire for a good garden.
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Maggi Young on January 07, 2016, 02:26:34 PM
"Lift your spirits at this drenched dark time of year with a feast of colour! In a vibrant illustrated talk ecophysiologist Martin Barker examines colour from the viewpoint of the plants! Why do plants bother with colour?"

Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Roma on January 07, 2016, 03:07:40 PM
That picture brightened up my day, Maggi.
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on January 26, 2016, 03:03:37 PM
 Composting on a National Scale  (  Green waste recycling
    Talk for the FCBG  11 February 2016, 19:30 - 21:20

Rachael Reid, environmental and compliance officer at Keenan Recycling Ltd, talks about scaling up the natural processes of composting to deliver an organics recycling service for Scotland. (
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on January 26, 2016, 03:09:17 PM
Cruickshank notes, January 2016 - from David Atkinson
So that was Christmas and a Happy New Year, with torrential rain on already sodden ground and attendant and unexpected flooding. As well as the damp, it has been strikingly milder than usual with only transient snow and not enough frost to harden up the ubiquitous dubs! The witch hazel outside our front door started flowering several weeks earlier than usual, the moss in the ‘lawns’ is burgeoning at the expense of the more sluggish grass, and shoots of precocious spring bulbs are reaching out into the drizzle.

In the Cruickshank Garden too, on a grey overcast Thursday, the end of season dampness is evident; the grasses in the bed on the left as you come in from the Chanonry, look anything but elegant as they flop about damply in front of the cut back and now resurgent rhododendrons. In the courtyard, as elsewhere in the garden Schizostylis (now Hesperantha) coccinea, the Kaffir lily, here in a strong growing pink form, is flowering away. This South African species, which comes in a variety of colours from a strong red through pink to white, needs moisture to grow and a sunny spot to flower well, but is much hardier than normally recognised growing well and flowering even in inland areas.
The buds of winter flowering Iris unguicularis in the south facing bed at the foot of the Cruickshank building are only just visible but promise future delight, if the iris can cope with the self-sown pampas grass seedlings which are in danger of swamping it. The white berries of the splendid rowan, Sorbus cashmeriana, seem not to be a first choice food for the local birds and many are brownly littering the ground under the tree here.

On the corner of the path leading to the sunken garden, the wide- spreading small tree, Parrotia persica – the Persian ironwood catches the eye. Its bark, ( visible through the weeping branches,is smooth, pinkish-brown flaking to leave cinnamon, pink, green, and pale yellow patches, and its flowers  are somewhat similar to witch hazel flowers but dark red; they are likewise produced in late winter on bare stems, but differ in having only four rounded sepals with no petals; thestamens are however fairly conspicuous, forming dense red clusters on the bare branches, though not in huge numbers. Various much more floriferous specimens of its cousin the witch hazel, Hammamelis cvs can be seen near this path, their branches covered with flower, whilst in the bed at the eastern rim of the sunken garden, Rhodendron mucronulatum and R. dauricum, are also sporting rose-purple flowers on almost bare branches, and Viburnum farreri, one of the parents of the deservedly common hybrid V. x ‘Bodnantense’, is wreathed in clusters of fragrant white flowers.

Another winter flowering shrub, Mahonia x media ‘Charity’ with upright racemes of slightly fragrant yellow flowers atop whorls of handsome pinnate leaves, can be enjoyed in the shrub border leading to the St Machar Drive boundary wall - there is another good specimen in the south facing border in front of the long wall. Although reasonably hardy, it needs some shelter from wind in freezing conditions and I have had specimens succumb in severe winters. The evergreen hedges round the rose garden are as beautifully shaped as ever and the newly replanted roses in the beds at the north end of this area are already growing strongly.

The paths leading down to the sunken garden look well for their recent resurfacing and the first snowdrops will soon be adorning the bulb lawn. The rhododendrons round the edge are still draped with rampant Tropaeolum speciosum, the Chilean flame flower, with its blue seeds visible here and there, showing no signs of dying down for winter yet. At this florally limited time of year the splendid greyish Juniperus recurva var coxii at the eastern end is very pleasing. This elegant conifer was introduced by Cox and Farrer in 1920 from Myanmar where its wood is burned as incense in Buddhist temples, but grows surprisingly well in our climate.

In the bed by the summer house, protected by the long wall another Chilean native, the evergreen Crinodendron hookerianum is thriving, the buds that will form its crimson lantern flowers already visible on their long stalks, whilst its compatriot and neighbour in this bed Embothrium coccineum, the Chilean fire bush, after years of thriving is continuing to look sickly. The absence of hard frosts means that the striking silver foliage of Melianthus major is still pleasing at the back of the terrace, though the once splendid Paeonia rockii, with its sumptuous white, purple blotched flowers is mysteriously dwindling too. Much pruning back has taken place in the warm border in front of the long wall and the wall mounted bronze sculpture is now pleasingly visible, flanked by two specimens of the splendid winter-flowering Daphne bholua whose fragrance can fill the air on mild days.

The grey-leaved Garrya elliptica, to the left of the gate through to rock garden, is carrying lengthening catkins, though futilely as no female plant is nearby to receive the wind-borne pollen. Clumps of Schizostylis coccinea are still flowering in beds in the rock garden and a large Viburnum tinus is full of flowering heads. A young tulip tree, Liriodendron tulipifera, has been planted to the east of the large birch tree. Though it will be many years before this has a chance of producing its fascinating flowers, this North American tree is well worth growing for the sake of its curiously shaped leaves and good autumn colour. In the bed under the dawn redwoods you can find theautumn-flowering snowdrop, Galanthus reginae-olgae, from the Taigetos mountains in the Greek Peloponnese. Its discoverer was the Greek botanist and poet T.G. Orphanides, who named it in honour of Queen Olga of Greece (grandmother of the present Duke of Edinburgh).

The prospect of actually gardening seems rather remote at the moment as the rain continues to teem down and new lakes slowly grow, so maybe better to browse catalogues and cultivate the imagination.
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Maggi Young on March 05, 2016, 03:22:28 PM

This is a joint meeting with the Aberdeen Branch of The Scottish Rock Garden Club.

This Thursday  FCBG welcome Bleddyn and Sue Wynne-Jones from Crûg Farm Nursery in North Wales. Sue and Bleddyn are multiple Gold Medal Winners at Chelsea and their nursery is a treasure trove of interesting and unusual garden plants. Sue and Bleddyn are also plant hunters, and for the past 20 years have made annual trips to introduce hardy plants to UK gardens. On Thursday they are talking about their collecting trips to the high mountains of northern Vietnam.


All Welcome!

Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Maggi Young on March 15, 2016, 12:05:53 PM
There is a chance to catch up with the lecture given in January to the FCBG by Martin Barker on  'The  Science of Colour in the Garden' : (
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on May 02, 2016, 12:58:41 PM
The Spring Plant Sale is next Saturday ( 7th May ) from 1030-1200 in The Cruickshank Garden. Please come along and support the sale – there are always interesting plants to buy.
If you have plants to donate to the sale ( and we don’t have a sale if we don’t have plants!) please bring them to The Cruickshank Garden on Thursday or Friday or before 10am on the morning of the sale.
Volunteers who are willing to help setting up and/or to give advice during the sale are very welcome.
Please help to advertise the sale to your gardening friends. We need to attract as many people as possible to come and buy plants.
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on May 08, 2016, 09:55:46 PM
 Don’t forget – this Thursday 12th May  at 7.30pm in the Zoology Lecture Theatre!!
 The Noel Pritchard Memorial Lecture
"KEEPING THE SHOW ON THE ROAD"   by Helen Dillon, Dublin

    ( ( )
Writer and gardener Helen Dillon tells the story of a Dublin Garden that has been made over the last forty four years. Helen wants to be a creator rather than a curator, and she explains that gardens must evolve and change. Her problem is trying to combine an all-consuming love of plants with the desire to make a good garden.
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on August 11, 2016, 07:58:30 PM
Super photos from Facebook by FCBG committee member Colette Jones on the Herbaceous borders after the rain today: trees contributing to the spectacle.




Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on August 11, 2016, 08:07:33 PM
Summer  Notes from David Atkinson

So after a mildish winter with no very deep or persistent frosts and a late and coolish spring, the display from many flowering trees and shrubs has been remarkable. Many rhododendrons have had their best show for years, lilac cultivars, which are often a bit desultory in our northern clime, have been magnificent, laburnums have been dripping with yellow flower, hawthorn has been wreathed in white and the yellow on both broom and gorse on the hills has been stunning and long-lasting. After this slightly sluggish start we are now in the period when growth shifts a gear and the illusion of control is hard to maintain as weeds seem to double in number and size from one day to the next though almost every day brings new flowers to delight in.
I managed, however to choose one of the damp days to wander round the Cruickshank, the resulting raindrop damage making the already difficult task of re-interpreting my own cryptic scrawl even more challenging.
In the bed on the left as you enter from the Chanonry, self-sown aquilegias, singles and doubles in varied colours enliven the more deliberate grasses, while the quantity of blossom on the small rowan, Sorbus forrestii, prefigure a healthy crop of white berries. Its relative Sorbus cashmeriana, in the paved area in front of the Cruikshank building and usually lovely, is unfortunately looking far less healthy with whole stems dead or dying - some fungal attack? In the little bed close by Cistus laurifolius, probably the hardiest of the cistus, is full of bud. In the log-edged beds nearby amongst the aquilegias, various colours of Primula alpicola can be seen as well as a good sized patch of the bronze leaved New Zealander Bulbinella hookeri, with pleasant spikes of yellow flowers, a good hardy choice for a cool damp spot. A good specimen of the dwarf lilac, Syringa meyeri ‘Palibin’ covered in panicles of fragrant lilac-pink flowers presides over this bed.
On the other side of the path, the unusual graft hybrid +Laburnocytisus ‘Adamii’ is lovely with its mixed display of yellow laburnum, purple broom and intermediate coppery pink flowers. The display of brightly coloured deciduous azaleas in the bed beyond the charming paperbark maple, Acer griseum catch the eye on a dull day. This Chinese acer, introduced by Ernest Wilson, is rightly described by Hilliers as “one of the most beautiful of small trees” and though slow growing is a very good hardy choice even in colder inland gardens. There are a number of different meconopsis species thriving, though coming to the end of their flowering in the bed on the eastern lip of the sunken garden; M. ssp aculeata, quintuplinervia, betonicifolia and various forms of grandis while nearby another Chinese introduction - though this time by Abbe Farges - Decaisnea fargesii is adorned with numerous racemes of yellow-green flowers which will hopefully produce a fine crop of metallic blue broadbean like pods later in the year, set off by the fine large pinnate leaves.
Unfortunately the medlar, Mespilus germanica, usually a fine specimen, against the St. Machar boundary wall is also looking rather unwell, uncheered by the bright lupin hybrids which have recently been planted nearby. In the shrub border the Chilean fire tree, Embothrium coccineum is flowering well with a fine display of scarlet orange flowers - though again the other specimen by the summer house continues to suffer. The species rose in the bed at the southern end of the rose garden are already in flower, with Rosa pimpinellifolia ‘Altaica’ in creamy white and R. xanthine ‘Canary Bird’ in yellow looking particularly good. At the opposite end of this area the roses in the rose history beds which were replanted last year are thriving and on many, buds are already swelling.
The herbaceous border is increasingly colourful and the timeously placed stakes are now all but invisible. The early paeonys, bergenias, Lathyrus aureus and so on are now fading and geraniums, centaureas , Centranthus ruber , Galega (goats’ rue) and much more are taking over. Note the fine stand of the yellow flowered meadow rue, Thalictrum lucidum, too.
The wisteria on the terrace has flowered very well with long fragrant racemes of lilac purple flowers, as has its next door neighbour the Californian currant, Ribes speciosum with its red fuchsia-like flower. This last thrives on a sunny sheltered wall, but, alas, has not proved hardy enough out at Craigievar. Further along the wall, another not entirely hardy sun-lover, Abutilon x suntense is already displaying its fine large lilac blue flowers.
In the rock garden, the great spring splash of colours has receded but the there is still much of interest, both florally and structurally The three dawn redwoods, Metasequioa gylptostroboides, look very elegant as they leaf out, and the weeping Katsura, Cercidiphyllum japonicum ‘Pendulum’ elegantly hangs over the lower pond. The oldest palm of the group of three Trachycarpus fortunei in the north east corner is - ever hopeful - flowering with a long bright orange yellow spike. Next to these the Indian rain tree, Koelreuteria paniculata with very elegant long pinnate foliage has clearly enjoyed the absence of late frosts. The ginger relative Roscoea spp are appearing in a variety of colours, mixing with late aprimulas and irises. The last of the rhododendrons lighten the bed at the bottom of the slope and if you're lucky you may be able to see the last of the splendid shooting stars, Dodecatheon spp, primula relatives with elegant reflexed, often brightly coloured petals, mostly from north America enjoying coolish damp conditions in spring which preferably dry out in summer.
Let’s hope for more sunshine and an extended summer and a long period of wine and roses.
                                                                                                            David Atkinson
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on September 16, 2016, 05:50:19 PM
David's Autumn Notes :
Cruickshank Garden Notes - Autumn 2017

Here we are then, officially in Autumn - mists and mellow fruitfulness, nights drawing in and all that jazz - though as I write the sun is shining, skies are blue and the buddleias are alive with tortoiseshell, peacock and red admiral butterflies, oblivious of summer’s short lease.
There has been plenty of moisture this summer often delivered in tropical downpours rather than our more usual, ‘I can do this all day drizzle’, which, combined
reasonably buoyant temperatures - much better than last year, has led to rampant growth of trees and shrubs; lack of moisture clearly a check on growth in many years which is slightly peculiar given the reputation of our summers. Jungle taming with hedgetrimmers, secateurs and machetes is very much the order of the day at the moment.Shrubs and trees have continued to flower well, though it’s somewhat frustrating to see a rose bush packed with bud open to soggy mush in warm(ish) rain, though the absence of late frosts and the regular rain brought abundant crops of soft fruit. Appropriate to the season, the Cruickshank Garden is adorned with ripening berries; amongst others rowans in shades from white to red, hollies and in shady places theshining red-berried spikes of the poisonous herb, baneberry, Actaea rubra. In the bed on the left as you come into the garden from the Chanonry, Sorbus forrestii, a graceful small tree from China and named in honour George Forrest who introduced it, has a good crop of small white berries, whilst unfortunately, the Sorbus cashmeriana in the courtyard, though still carrying bunches of large white berries is clearly suffering from some disease with bark peeling and fewer and smaller leaves than usual. Here and there in the nearby beds another attractive self-seeder, Miss Wilmott’s ghost, the annual sea-holly Eryngium giganteum enlivens the display.
In the bed further along the path on the right by the corner of the Cruickshank building, amongst the winter flowering Sarcocca species, a fine large leaved hydrangea, H. aspera subsp. sargentiana, has a lovely display of large violet flowering heads surrounded by sterile white florets enhanced by its large velvety leaves. This is a fine large shrub for a sheltered moist woodland situation and indeed there are further specimens in the border at the bottom of the rock garden.
On the eastern edge of the sunken garden the amber berries on the Daphne mezereum ‘Album’ are pleasing while pink Japanese anemones run through the bed. The flowerbuds on the various witchhazels hereabouts are already obvious and the pods on Decaisnea fargesii by the path will soon be turning electric blue. At the end of the shrubborder, next to the boundary wall, the medlar, Mespilus germanica which was sick lasttime I wrote, has died of who knows what! In the shrub border however a thirty foot high Eucryphia ‘Nymansay’ (probably) is wreathed in large white flowers. This evergreen, a hybrid between two Chilean species, does well in Aberdeen though it needs sun to flower well, but is not reliable hardy in colder inland areas. In the area between the shrubborder and the rose garden, another late flowerer the large pinnate-leaved Chinese tree, Tetradium danielli, will soon be scenting the air with its corymbs of small white flowers.The major show in the rose garden is now over though the Rosa pimpinellifolia hybrid , ‘Stanwell Perpetual’, is living up to its name, sporting blush pink fragrant blooms while the roses in the replanted beds at the north end are clearly thriving and should perform well next year.The herbaceous border looks very well, showing the benefit of work earlier in the year; the spreading of compost and the timely staking, well before the plants grow up is so much more satisfactory than trying to prop them up after they’ve fallen down. The Phlox paniculata forms in many colours are thriving, the blue balls of the globe thistle Echinops ritro, were alive with insects, and much more. Against the warm wall, a sweet chestnut, Castanea sativa, was just coming into flower, a little late for a crop of nuts I fear though still a fine looking tree.

So to the rock garden, where again the major floral display is over, but the sheer variety of plants and their forms still delight. The Cercidiphyllum japonicum ‘Pendulum’ which hangs over the bottom pond, looks increasingly impressive as it matures. The implausibly geometric leaves on the recently planted tulip tree, Liriodendron tulipifera are worth a look though I fear we may have a long wait for flowers. The large leaves on the similarly unlikely flowerer foxglove tree, Paulownia tomentosa, by the way through to the kitchen garden are very pleasing, and as a bonus enjoy the delightful flowers on Cyclamen hederifolium particularly under the dawn redwoods, laying down a carpet to lead us into winter.
     David Atkinson
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on September 16, 2016, 05:58:08 PM
Friends of the Cruickshank programme to January 2017  -
 click to download [attachurl=1]
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on October 05, 2016, 05:38:13 PM

The FCBG Lecture Programme 2016-17
 THURSDAYS at 7.30 pm in the Biological and Environmental Sciences Building
 Zoology Lecture Theatre, Biological and Environmental Sciences Building (previously Zoology Building), Tillydrone Avenue ABERDEEN AB24 2TZ map  Everyone welcome!  FREE to Friends of the Cruickshank Botanic Garden. Non-members -donation at the door.  Refreshments available in the foyer after the lecture at approximately 9pm.
 The Lecture Programme is compiled by Clare and Ian Alexander.  Save your Thursday evening on the second Thursday of the month from October to May for informed, colourful and inspiring talks!
 13 October 2016
 David Genney, Scottish Natural Heritage
 Dave will give us a photographic tour of the mosses and liverworts he works to protect as Scottish Natural Heritage's bryophyte adviser. We will hear about some of the most important habitats and some current conservation issues, but most of all Dave hopes you'll gain a greater appreciation of the beauty and international significance of these small and often overlooked native plants.
 10 November 2016
 Kerri Dall, Scottish Bamboo Nursery, Turriff ( (
 Kerri is very passionate about bamboo. She talks about their hardiness and garden potential, and gives us an insight into how Scottish Bamboo began and the challenges of running a mail order plant business in NE Scotland.
 08 December 2016
 David Burslem, Keeper, Cruickshank Botanic Garden
 The Keeper of The Garden gives a personal perspective on the Botanic Gardens where he has had research connections, and considers how they have supported and informed his work on tropical forest ecology and conservation
 12 January 2017
 Steve Woodward, Institute of Biological & Environmental Sciences
 Our forests and gardens face unprecedented challenges from increasing numbers of invasive pests and pathogens arriving in the UK. Climate change predictions suggest that many additional pests and pathogens will become problems as temperatures increase and rainfall patterns change. Using examples from Europe and elsewhere, Steve illustrates the potential for alien pathogens to cause damage, reducing biodiversity and altering gardens and native ecosystems beyond recognition.
 09 February 2017
 Kevin Butt, University of Central Lancashire.
 Kevin explores the diversity of British earthworm species, their life histories, requirements and behaviours. He presents material from research projects investigating their actions as ecosystem service providers. Without the presence of earthworms - a group sometimes referred to as “Darwin’s plough” - our world would be extremely different.
 09 March 2017
 Deborah Reid, Garden Historian
 Scottish women gardeners have largely been omitted from garden history. Deborah looks at the contribution of nineteenth century Scottish gardening women who went beyond their garden gates and achieved within the wider public sphere of horticulture in Scotland.
 13 April 2017
 Marilyn Brown, Garden Archaeologist
 Marilyn introduces historic gardens and designed landscapes in Scotland from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance with a discussion of their importance and the type of information that can be discovered about them through survey and documentary research.  The lecture will include examples from monastic sites, palaces and the houses of the magnates as well as town gardens with particular reference to the gardens of the north-east of Scotland.
 11 May 2017
 The Noel Pritchard Memorial Lecture
 Peter Boyd, Shrewsbury ( (
 The first 'coloured' variant of the native Rosa spinosissima was found in Scotland in the 17th century. By the early 19th century, hundreds of single, semi-double and double 'Scots Roses' had been raised in a wide range of colours. These charming roses became particularly popular in Britain and Nordic countries but went out of fashion by about 1840. However, iconic Scots Roses were carried across the world by Scottish and Nordic immigrants to North America, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere. Their international heritage is now being re-discovered, but surviving old Scots Rose cultivars, and the habitats of wild Rosa spinosissima are under threat.

Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Maggi Young on January 12, 2017, 05:44:26 PM
Interested in FCBG bus trip May/June from Aberdeen  to Kinross House in Fife & nearby Rumbling Bridge nursery?
Please  send email here  ( they can gauge interest and arrange a bus if there's enough interest.

Kinross House Garden ( and (…/kinross-house-kinross-shire-…

Rumbling Bridge nursery at (

All day trip- 2h 30 min journey each way. Approx cost £30.
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on January 16, 2017, 12:28:09 PM
Here is a link to the winning video in the FCBG film competition (

2016 Friends film competition ‘Colour in the Cruickshank Botanic Garden’ winner is Erwan Elias with his ‘sweet and tasteful’ film. Erwan wins £100 and a day at Tern Television as they film Beechgrove Garden.
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: fermi de Sousa on January 17, 2017, 06:45:38 AM
Seeing that blue sky at the end of the film must've been the clincher!
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on February 03, 2017, 02:28:21 PM
 Trustee – volunteers needed

Friends of the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Registered charity SC004350 Contact: Colette Jones Honorary President Telephone: 01224 592 390 or email:

The Friends of the Cruickshank Botanic Garden is looking for three new trustees for the charity. A new trustee will join seven other trustees who form the management committee of the Friends. This is an opportunity for someone with an interest in plants or gardens to gain volunteering experience in a managerial role for a charity. The Friends support Aberdeen’s Cruickshank Botanic Garden, helping to bring together all those with an interest in the wellbeing of the Garden, furthering development of the Garden through fund-raising and organising a programme of public lectures.
Cruickshank Botanic Garden is in Old Aberdeen tucked behind the wall that runs east along St Machar Drive just beyond the junction with Tillydrone Avenue to the Chanonry opposite the town house. There are over two and a half thousand plants all labelled and catalogued in the Garden making an important resource for education, pleasure and research. The Garden is owned jointly by the Cruickshank Charitable Trust (a registered charity SC004654) and the University of Aberdeen who employ and manage the garden staff. The Friends charity works closely with the University and Trust and three representatives from the garden staff and Cruickshank Charitable Trust are ex-officio members of the Friends’ management committee.
The Friends has a turnover of about £7,000 a year and reserves of around £35,000. The management committee organises events to encourage interest and learning in plants and horticulture including: the programme of eight public lectures between October and May held on the second Thursday of the month from 7:30pm to about 9pm; two plant sales spring and autumn; publishes a quarterly newsletter; arranges garden visits; and on occasions contributes to University outreach activities. The Friends has about 300 members, some of whom have been Friends since the start of the charity in 1983.
The major part of the work of a trustee can be done in the volunteer’s home using a computer and corresponding as needed via email, post or telephone. The management committee meets four times a year in late January, mid-April, mid-September and late November at the University of Aberdeen Biological and Environmental Sciences Building (previously the Zoology Building), Tillydrone Avenue, Old Aberdeen AB24 2TZ. Members of the Friends elect trustees at the Annual General Meeting that takes place Thursday 13th April this year.

If you are interested and would like more information please contact Colette. Thank-you
3rd February 2017 (

 Friends of the Cruickshank Botanic Garden is a registered Scottish charity SC004350

Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on February 03, 2017, 02:38:44 PM
Cruickshank notes Winter 2016 - from David Atkinson

As the metaphorical fogs of the festive season recede and real life can’t believe it has to get up so early, we can be cheered by the gradually lengthening days and the early signs of new growth. Spring bulbs lured by the essentially very mild weather are already poking through the ground, witch-hazels are flowering and buds are swelling. Snow fell in the wee small hours of Boxing Day allowing for a bracing walk in a winter wonderland but then melted in the balmy days that followed, so I now have the almost certainly illusory feeling that spring is just around the corner.

In the Cruickshank garden too there were cheering signs that cold winter’s grip was not overtight. The autumn flowering snowdrop Galanthus reginae-olgae was blooming in several places in the rock garden- though only just showing white in Craigievar several weeks later. Cyclamen hederifolium had just about finished flowering under the dawn redwoods close by, but the show was being carried forward by the Cyclamen coum, the flowers of both enhanced by the pleasing variety in the mottled markings on their leaves. The weeping Katsura, Cercidiphyllum japonica ‘Pendulum’ looms evocatively over the lower pool while on the other side, a fine specimen of the Chinese Vaccinium glauco-album with handsome grey-green leaves has a heavy crop of blue-black berries which will not replace blueberries in my diet. The redwoods themselves, Metasequoia glyptostroboides, look splendid at this time of year with the tracery of their leafless branches against the grey winter sky and the corkscrew twist of the trunks as they reach upwards clearly visible.
Though once common across the northern hemisphere, the Dawn Redwood was originally considered extinct. The genus Metasequoia was first described in 1941 as a fossil of the Mesozoic Era, and none of the fossils discovered were less than 1.5 million years old. In the same year a forester came across an enormous living specimen while performing a survey in Sichuan and Hubei provinces. Though unaware of the new genus he recognised the unique qualities of the tree. Samples were collected in 1943 but it wasn’t until 1946 that these were connected with the ‘fossil’ genus and in 1948 a team from the Arnold Arboretum collected seeds and distributed them to institutions around the world. I suspect the Cruickshank specimens must have been planted not long after this.

Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ (probably) is flowering well  by the path through to the working area of the garden; one of the most reliable of winter shrubs, this started flowering with me in October and is still covered in fragrant and remarkably frost-resistant blossom on the last day of the year and its pleated red tinted leaves are handsome too . Its cousin, the evergreen Viburnum tinus is covered in clusters of small fragrant flowers by the top pool; a reliable shrub in Aberdeen, it can suffer in exposed positions or further inland and I came across this fell warning online, ‘In south-east Britain Viburnum tinus is the principal host of the viburnum beetle (Pyrrhalta viburni), the country's "number one pest species" according to the Royal Horticultural Society.’

On the other side of the wall from the rock garden, facing south, Mahonia x media ‘Charity’ is in fine from; spikes of yellow flowers emerging from handsome whorls of spiky grey-green evergreen foliage. While further along this wall the pods of Piptanthus nepalensis cover the bush and the buds of the red-flowered Chilean evergreen, Crinodendron hookerianum, are slowly swelling as they dangle on their stalks. The swollen pods of the bladder senna hybrid, Colutea x media by the summerhouse look as much fun to pop as bubble wrap- though I resisted!
In the bed on the eastern rim of the sunken garden near the handsome rosettes of monocarpic meconopsis, Rhododendron mucronulatum is already in rose-purple flower with lots of buds still to open. This very hardy more or less deciduous shrub has an extensive distribution in Korea, Japan and China gets its specific name from the little points at the ends of its leaves, which are indeed rather small! Just west of here in the sunken garden a fine specimen of Juniperus recurva var. coxii presides over the bulb lawn with elegant grey-green foliage and shaggy peeling rich brown bark. The wood of this is burned as incense in Buddhist temples.
The weeping elm, Ulmus  glabra ‘Camperdownii’ close by, looks as elegant as ever, its flower buds already visible on the bare branches though sadly it is apparently infected with Dutch elm disease so its days are numbered. The beautiful rambling rose, R. ‘ Adelaide d’Orleans’ still had a late display of creamy white flowers and there were hips galore on the rugose hybrids by the boundary wall, while the beautifully shaped holly hedge round the rose garden gives a note of elegant formality.
So 2017 is hovering on the doorstep, lump of coal in hand and I fancy a good warm summer where I will magically have time to enact all the gardening plans I’ve made over winter.
 D. A.

Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: David Nicholson on February 03, 2017, 07:22:35 PM
Interesting point you made about Viburnum beetle. Here in Devon I lost V. bodnantense 'Dawn' to it last year as a result of it starting on V. tinus the previous year. Tinus was chopped back to about 18" high and has re-grown nicely with a much better shape than previously but it just wasn't worth trying to save Dawn.

I enjoy your notes by the way.
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Maggi Young on February 10, 2017, 01:05:27 PM
Garden workshops start at Duthie Park Feb 19th with C.B.G. curator Mark Paterson on gardening for wildlife.

Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Maggi Young on April 28, 2017, 02:49:04 PM
Dear Friend

Attached please find a poster for the next plant sale.


The more plants we can offer, the better, so please don't be shy about providing items.  Plants for sale can be delivered to the garden up until 4:30 on Friday 12 May, or before 9:30 on the morning of the sale.  Delivery earlier in the week or help with collection/delivery can possibly be arranged through Dick as above

Volunteers to help on the sale day with setting up and staffing the stalls will be very welcome.  We look forward to seeing you there.

Kind regards,   Marion Hart

Friends of the Cruickshank Botanic Garden

Registered Charity SC004350

Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on May 04, 2017, 07:46:05 PM
Cruickshank notes Spring 2017         from David Atkinson

So here we are in Spring and curiously the weather is actually spring-like with daytime temperatures in double figures and warmth in the sun; I even sowed some veg seeds at the weekend though only in our polytunnel. Overall it has been a very mild winter with very little snow, I’ve scarcely spent an hour in total clearing it and the spring bulb display is increasingly delightful with warm enough conditions to persuade crocuses to open fully and daffodils racing to join snowdrops and early irises. The birds seem convinced too with territorial disputes, pairing off and the attendant twitterings at a high level.
More worryingly, trees and shrubs are also feeling the force that through the green fuse drives the flower, and their swelling buds and unfurling leaves are all too vulnerable to the almost inevitable late frosts which can knock back and even kill otherwise hardy but unwary plants. The lack of a proper cold spell often means an increase in and earlier onset of pests, greenfly and other aphids in particular. Still enough of ‘we’ll aye pay for it’ and on with the joys of Spring.
In the Cruickshank Garden as well, spring bulbs abound; daffodil buds are already showing yellow in the patch of grass to the right of the Chanonry entrance taking over from the fine snowdrop display. I spent a fair while gazing up at the buds on the shapely Japanese magnolia, M. Kobus, in the middle of the rhododendrons to the north of this lawn, trying to persuade myself that some were flower buds, though I fear it was wishful thinking - I’m not sure if this specimen has ever flowered! On the other side of the path the rhodies that were severely cut back a few years ago are resurgent with lots of healthy looking new shoots breaking from the trunks and should be back to flowering well soon. As every year the winter-flowering iris, I. unguicularis, which nestles at the foot of the Cruickshank Building relishing its sunny southern aspect, is in fine flower with fragrant purple flowers with a broad yellow patch on the falls. There is another very pleasant pale lilac and green and to my nose smellier, clone of this iris, I. unguicularis ‘Walter Butt’ to be found by the south western wall of the terrace.
In the peat beds nearby Helleborus argutifolius is flourishing with a crop of green flowers and a fine swarm is growing in the azalea beds to the south of the herbaceous border. This species enjoys a sunnier position than most and like the rareish British native Helleborus foetidus- which thrives in shade - makes annual stems which flower, go to seed and then wither, while the following year’s flowering stems grow up from the base.  The display from the various witch-hazels in the garden is all but over, but a near relative of theirs, Parrotia persica, the Persian ironwood, can be seen on the corner of the path leading to the weeping elm. It has an elegant weeping habit, fine patchwork bark and its bare twigs are covered with pleasing small,l red petal-less flowers.
The hedges round the rose garden looked particularly good in the spring sunshine, beautifully trimmed wide at the bottom narrowing to the top, and of three of the classiest hedging plants, yew, holly and box. In the sunken garden the bulb lawn is starting to liven up, the dwarf daffodil, Narcissus minimus, less than 6 inches high, is just coming into flower to join snowdrops and be complemented by erythroniums, fritillaries, orchids and more.
The herbaceous border is about future promise rather than current display, though the young shoots of the herbaceous paeonies are very pleasing as are the almost reptilian stems of Euphorbia sikkimensis, while the red-leaved ‘elephant’s ears Bergenia sp., decorates the western end. The mildness of the winter is attested by the two healthy looking young palms in containers on the terrace and by the tree ferns, Dicksonia antarctica, in containers by the gate through to the rock garden. Similarly the half-hardy South-African shrub, with fine silvery pinnate foliage, Melianthus major, at the back of the terrace, has not been cut down by frost.
In the rock garden, my eyes were drawn to the fine early rhododendron, R. moupinense, a metre high dome covered in large blush-pink flowers. There is a fine patch of white chiondoxa, with a group of a wine-red drumstick primula, P. denticulata, behind them. The base of the large monkey puzzle tree, Araucaria araucana, is surrounded by Cyclamen coum in full flower with a fine range of colours from fuchsia pink to white, while in the bed under the dawn redwoods, Metasequoia glyptostroboides, its autumn flowering cousin Cyclamen hederifolium, is showing the splendid diversity of its leaf markings. These two species are fully hardy and should be in everyone’s garden, thriving in sun or shade in a well-drained soil, often doing well when near a shrub which dries the ground somewhat in summer.

Let’s hope for a steady rise from an early Spring to a long hot Summer - please - and enjoy the illusion of control that is still possible in gardens at this time of year.
 David Atkinson

Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on May 09, 2017, 11:19:51 AM
 From Kevin M.   Programme Secretary for the FCBG

Dear Friends,

As we step in and out of spring here in Aberdeen, I hope you have all been able to avoid the hail and enjoy the days of warmth we have been experiencing lately (touch wood). In addition to the lovely weather, the FCBG committee wish to extend our invitation to all of you for our Noel Pritchard Memorial Lecture on Thursday May 11th hosted by Peter Boyd. After studying Botany in Aberdeen during the late 1960s and being taught by Noel Pritchard himself, Peter holds the National Collection of Scots roses. I have attached an image below for your information and look forward to seeing you all for our final lecture of the series, until Autumn.


Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on July 06, 2017, 04:49:52 PM
Summer Garden Notes from David....

Cruickshank notes – Summer 2017

I write this as nights are drawing in, on the day after ‘astronomical summer’ officially begins. For once actual summer has put in a number of appearances, with properly hot days albeit interspersed with some torrential rain showers. In a well-regulated world these showers would occur between the hours of midnight and 6am - maybe starting a little later at the weekend to allow longer periods of revelry. The rain has however been very necessary, after a very mild and almost snowless winter and an unusually dry spring, the ground had a serious moisture deficit and new trees and shrubs newly planted looked unhappy, and in number of gardens I visit, container grown plants died of thirst. On the upside, weed germination and growth was held back and the illusion of control was relatively easy to maintain.
For whatever reason - the mild winter, a warmish autumn or…?- trees and shrubs have in generally flowering beautifully; I have never seen broom and particularly gorse flowering so profusely with whole hillsides bright yellow for weeks, flowering cherries, lilacs and rhododendrons have also been good and roses are just coming into their own.
In the Cruickshank Garden too, shrubs are flowering well, set off by the early herbaceous plants and the many welcome volunteers, foxgloves, aquilegias in many colours and flower shapes, Dame’s violet- Hesperis matronalis- with its glorious evening scent, all self-sowing among the more permanent residents.
In the courtyard area the new bed under the double gean, Prunus avium ‘Plena’, is filling out pleasantly and a large plant of the not very hardy Convolvulus cneorum attests to the mildness of the winter, its silvery foliage nestling under the much hardier rockrose, Cistus laurifolius whose fat buds are about to release large white tissue paper flowers. Nearby the once magnificent white-berried rowan, Sorbus cashmeriana continues to look rather sick with, I guess some fungal infestation, large dead sections have had to be cut out and the rest is not thriving.
 The New Zealander Bulbinella hookeri, with bronze foliage and egg-yolk yellow flowers-shaped like a mini kniphofia- has colonised a large area of the first of the two peat beds just beyond the courtyard. In the same bed a lovely patch of the native, ragged robin, Lychnis flos-cuculli, is thriving, its profuse raggedy pink flowers held well above its rosette of leaves. Its specific name ‘flos-cuculli’ means flower of the cuckoo, allegedly because its flowering coincides with the first calls of the cuckoo.
In the bed on the north side of the path through to the weeping elm, a fine white deutzia is flowering profusely despite the relative shade, next to an equally prolific Fuchsia magellanica, while the last of the blue poppies Meconopsis grandis and M. betonicifolia, adorn the bed above the eastern end of the sunken garden. The weeping elm, Ulmus glabra ‘Camperdownii’ – probably destined to be the next victim of Dutch elm disease - is still providing a lovely shady bower. On the western side of the shrub border that leads down to St. Machar Drive, a large specimen of the yellow leaved philadelphus, P. coronarius ‘Aureus’ stands both for its excellent golden foliage and for the powerful sweet scent of its large white flowers. This philadelphus is an excellent plant for dry soils, thriving in sun or even quite deep shade where its golden–yellow leaves become more lime green. Though eventually a medium to large shrub it is very amenable to quite hard pruning.
The rose garden was just getting into its stride when I visited, with the early species or near species roses in the bed at the southern end looking particularly good; Scotch White, the vigorous Rosa moyesii, and the splendid early yellow  Rosa ‘Canary Bird’ particularly caught my eye. At the northern end, the newly replanted beds are filling out nicely with some promising buds already.
Like Gaul, the herbaceous border is now divided into three parts, though in this case by paving - I’m not yet sure whether I approve or not yet, one could get a pleasing sensations of being in the border- without being shouted at by irate gardeners but it spoils the long view down the border. Anyway the border is working up to its full summer glory without as many plant supports as usual (let’s hope for no wild winds!) and there are already many early delights, amongst them various paeonies, the orange pea, Lathyrus aureus, a fine stand of the evil looking, and indeed poisonous Pokeweed, Phytolacca americana, with white or green flowers which develop into glossy black berries on reddish stems which may reach 2.5m in height.
Against the warm south facing wall, the bladder senna,  Colutea x media ‘Copper Beauty’ is in full flower, while the Chilean fire bush, Embothrium coccineum has a display of scarlet flowers and will hopefully regain its former height and magnificence after a couple of difficult years. Nearby on the terrace both the red flowered currant, Ribes speciosum, and the splendid wisteria are past their best though still attractive. Further along, Abutilon x suntense is covered with large pale purple flowers and relishing the shelter the wall provides.
The tree ferns, Dicksonia antarctica, in pots near the gate through to the rock garden, which have taken over sentry duty from the Prunus ‘Ukon’ that used to grow there, look as though they would relish a moister, shadier home. Through said gate, hellebores are proliferating round the stump of the large holly which used to shade them out. The prime period for the rock garden has passed but there are still many delights, a number of species and forms of the ginger relative (and who in Scotland hasn’t got a ginger relative) Roscoea spp. looking superficially like orchids can be found, Angel’s fishing rods, Dierama pulcherrimum will soon be waving their cerise flowers in the wind and much more too to the keen observer. There is even a newly planted mulberry, Morus nigra, to go round!
                  David Atkinson

Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on September 27, 2017, 01:35:37 PM
Please save the date for the upcoming plant sale hosted by the Friends of Cruickshank Botanic Garden, also please share this with your communities and in doing so support our botanic garden in future endeavours!


Plant Sale 28th October 2017
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on September 27, 2017, 02:27:02 PM

Latest  Cruickshank Garden Notes -Autumn 2017 - from David Atkinson

There is now a definite coolth in the mornings, the hairst is proceeding apace, and mists and mellow fruitfulness lie just around the corner. The dryness of the early part of the growing season this year has been more than corrected subsequently with all too regular showers. Together with warmish temperatures these have produced abundant growth; our growing season is short but intense. In the last couple of weeks butterflies, not much in evidence earlier, have finally reached our northern latitudes. Peacocks and red admirals have joined the hardier small tortoiseshells in profusion on buddleias both out in the country and in town -no painted ladies yet though!
In both my garden and the Cruickshank, two other harbingers of autumn are flowering; colchicum and dainty cyclamen. The naked leafless flowers of colchicum can be seen in many places in the garden, including in the bed on the left as you enter by the Chanonry gate, but stand up best -and I think -look most appropriate growing in meadow conditions, as in the bulb lawn in the sunken garden where their flowers are supported by the surrounding vegetation. The plant contains the alkaloid colchicine which is used pharmaceutically to treat gout though its leaves, corm and seeds are poisonous. Murderer Catherine Wilson, the last woman to be publicly hanged in London, is thought to have used it to poison a number of victims in the 19th century.
The tiny white berries of the small rowan, Sorbus forrestii, named for that great planter hunter, George Forrest who introduced it into cultivation from Yunnan where he had discovered it in 1921, can be enjoyed in this same bed near the entrance, the far end of which is taken up with a fine weeping ash, Fraxinus excelsior ‘Pendula’-a large airy parasol!
Another rowan with larger white berries this time, Sorbus cashmeriana still has a decent crop of said berries though the tree itself seems unfortunately to be slowly dying, the main trunk looking very sick.
In the nearby peat beds, various dwarf rhododendrons are in unseasonal fine flower, while in the bed by the Cruickshank building, there is a fine stand of the British native Eupatorium cannabinum, Hemp Agrimony, with massed heads of fluffy pink flowers. A plant of moist places, this last is a robust clump-forming perennial flowering over several months in the second half of summer. Its American cousin, Eupatorium maculatum, which can reach two metres in height can be seen in various colour forms, white pink and my favourite rich reddish purple with purple stems (the form ‘Atropurpureum’) enlivening the herbaceous border.

The better of the two weeping elms, Ulmus glabra ‘Camperdownii’ is still forming a pleasant bower, but its friend by the wildlife pond has been put out of its Dutch elm disease induced misery and lies sadly on the ground with surrounding colchicums relishing the increased sunlight.

In the nearby shrub border by the path down to the St Machar Drive wall, the fine specimen of the Japanese umbrella pine, Sciadopitys verticillata, is currently carrying a good crop of cones. Sciadopitys, the only member not only of its genus but also of the family Sciadopityaceae, is endemic to Japan and has been known in the fossil record for about 230 million years. It is thriving here much better than its flanking neighbours, the even older ‘living fossil’ Ginkgo biloba, the maidenhair tree, known from 270 million years ago, but sulking here as they dream of warmer summers. Between this border and the rose garden are two fine large pinnate-leaved trees, the foliage of both resembling that of the common ash to which neither is related and nor indeed are they related to each other. Firstly, nearer the boundary wall, there is the Chinese Tetradium daniellii whose corymbs of small white flowers are about to open and release their pungent scent into the autumn air, while its neighbour the walnut relative, Pterocarya fraxinifolia, Caucasian wingnut is draped in long green catkins of developing nuts. Berries, seeds and fruits are much in evidence and there are fine hips on the species roses in the rose garden -I suppose they are indeed child-bearing hips!

In the beds around the sunken garden you can find the more sinister poisonous berries of various species of the baneberry, Actaea spp.-the black berries of the rareish British native A. spicata, bright red berries of the American native A. rubra and the white berries of another American, the aptly named dolls’ eyes A. pachypoda. In the sunken garden there is also a fine patch of the perennial Viola ‘Inverurie Beauty’ with large purple flowers more or less continuously from late spring. Here too under the rhododendrons, you can see patches of the North American woodlander with small orange berries over glossy foliage, Disporum smithii.
There is still plenty of colour in the herbaceous border with the yellow daises of Helianthus, Phlox paniculata in many colours, including my favourite the rich purple form ‘Le Mahdi’, yellow Crocosmia and much else. In the bed opposite against the wall the enormous herbaceous Aralia cordata, Japanese spikenard demands attention. It stands more than two metres tall with almost metre long flowering stems carrying large umbels of white flowers and its stems are apparently eaten in miso soup in Japan.

In the rock garden, the patches of Cyclamen hederifolium in various beds are delightful, and the ageing Korean fir Abies koreana, is looking healthier than in recent years and is carrying a good crop of blue cones. The large leaved woodland Hydrangea aspera, next to the Magnolia wilsoni in the shady border looks splendid with its large heads of mauve sterile flowers surrounding the small bluey-purple fertile flowers.

So with hopes of an Indian summer as the nights are drawing in, it’s perhaps a good time to wander round our own gardens with a critical eye and make innovative plans for next year.

David Atkinson
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on September 27, 2017, 03:02:39 PM
Friends of the Cruickshank Botanic Garden Programme 2017 - Jan 2018

Mark Paterson, Curator, Cruickshank Botanic Garden

Often a visit to a public garden is a snap-shot in time; what is visible on any given day frequently does not show the breadth of work and planning behind the scenes, nor provide an opportunity to know what future plans and developments will be forthcoming. Mark will outline current and future plans for the Garden.

October 28 (Saturday) Plant sale in the Garden – 10.30am to noon

John Grace, President, Botanical Society of Scotland

The Botanical Society of Scotland is in the midst of a project to record the urban flora of Scotland, with the aim of bringing plant life to the attention of a new audience, re-kindling an interest in botanical ecology in schools, and making a contribution towards developing an eco-civilisation. The underpinning scientific questions relate to climate change, urban climates and plant introductions: what has been happening to our urban flora and how will the future shape up?

Sarah Woodin, School of Biological Sciences

Over the past 100 years the Scottish landscape has faced many environmental changes ¬locally and globally. How has the vegetation responded? Sarah and her team have repeated historic vegetation surveys to quantify changes in occurrence of individual species and in community composition. Sarah will illustrate how upland vegetation has changed and, using an understanding of the ecology of species which have changed most in abundance, will suggest what the most important drivers of change might be.
Soft drinks and mince pies to follow

Julia Corden, Head Gardener, Explorers’ Garden, Pitlochry

Scotland has produced some of the world's most successful Plant Hunters and the Explorers’ Garden celebrates their lives and their contribution to the way our gardens look today. Julia describes the development of the garden, its fascinating collection of plants and her plans for the future.

Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on January 23, 2018, 08:04:58 PM
The next newsletter of the Friends of the Cruickshank Botanic Garden  is due out  in the next day or so  -  here are David Atkinson's Winter notes .....

Cruickshank Notes- Winter 2018.

‘If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?’
Well it certainly felt a long way away on a cold dreich day, a few days  after Hogmanay, as I crept like a snail from rural revelry to the mean streets of Old Aberdeen, with the damp cold of the almost freezing air seeping into my mind and bones. This winter has already brought more snow and particularly ice than for the last few years and our track regularly resembles the Cresta run and the courtyard an ice rink, though the minimal temperatures have not been very low and I hope not too many plants have been damaged yet.
There are some signs of continuing life however, tips of daffodils and snowdrops are just poking through the grass under the big beech by the Chanonry gate and in the paved area in front of the Cruickshank building, the not entirely hardy bindweed relative, grey leaved shrub, Convolvulus cneorum, with a wide distribution on northern Mediterranean coasts is still sheltering happily amongst the Cistus laurifolius bushes. It is the hardiest of the cistus, surviving many years out here at Craigievar and enjoying a sunny dryish position in poor soil. The first flower on the sun-loving, winter-flowering, Iris unguicularis tight against the foot of the building, had opened and looked as though it had immediately regretted it.
In the nearby beds – formerly known as peat-beds - a Corsican hellebore, H. argutifolius is coming into full flower and in this fairly unshaded position has not yet flopped over its neighbours, its lime green flowers a pleasure on a dull day.
On the other side of the path from these beds, a large witchhazel, Hammamelis mollis is flowering well, though no scent was discernible and its neighbour and fellow family member, Parrotia persica is also ready to flower, the red of its small petal-less flowers just visible. The Chinese ‘Paperbark Maple’, Acer griseum by the azalea beds to the right of the path to the remaining weeping elm, stands out well in winter, its cinnamon coloured peeling bark very pleasing indeed. This is a very good tree for a small garden, slow-growing and very hardy, thriving in sun or shade with excellent autumn colour as well its beautiful bark. In the azalea beds self-sown plants of Helleborus foetidus,  the stinking hellebore - a British native, are thriving and flowering.
The rosettes of monocarpic meconopsis  in the bed on the eastern edge of the sunken garden also please with their softly hairy leaves glistening with drops of melting ice, while in many beds around here the greying  stems and translucent seed-heads of honesty, Lunaria annua punctuate the winter scene.
In the shrub border leading to the St. Machar Drive boundary wall the Japanese umbrella pine, Sciadopitys verticillata a distinctive slow-growing conical conifer, with whorls of long leaves like the spokes of an umbrella, has a fair crop of ripening cones. Aided by the thinning of shrubs, I found a slightly unhappy looking specimen of the Pocket-handkerchief tree, Davidia involucrata, magnificent when in flower with its large white bracts, but here striving for more light - I wonder if it has ever flowered? Nearby is another witchhazel relative, the Asian Distylium racemosum, a slow-growing evergreen shrub, about four feet high here, with, allegedly, petal-less flowers in May, consisting of clusters of red stamens - I must remember to have a look!
In the sunken garden there were no signs of exciting foliage in the bulb lawn as yet, and the coffin or incense juniper- introduced by Cox and Farrer from upper Burma in 1920-, Juniperus recurva var coxii with shaggy deep brown bark and drooping grey-green foliage presides gloomily over the winter scene. The herbaceous border is wisely hibernating, while the shrubs against the long south wall are sheltering from the worst of the weather, which has not yet been enough to kill the handsome grey pinnate foliage on the tender South African Melianthus major or the palm in a pot on the terrace. Desultory flowers can be seen on the winter jasmine, Jasminum nudiflorum by the tree sculpture and Mahonia x media ‘Charity’ has many spikes of fragrant yellow flowers near the gate through to the rock garden.
In the rock garden, it is mainly the architecture of the plants that is striking, the elegant weeping of Cercidiphyllum japonicum ‘Pendulum  by the lower pool, the gently spiralling trunks  of the three dawn redwoods, Metasequoia glyptostroboides in the bed at the south east corner and the determined uprightness of the ageing Korean fir, Abies koreana in the same bed. The flickering floral torch is being carried forward to the delights of Spring, by the autumn/winter flowering snowdrop, Galanthus reginae-olgae, in this latter bed and its neighbour the splendid hardy cyclamen, C. coum, which is also thriving at the base of the nearby large monkey-puzzle tree.
 D. A.
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on April 07, 2018, 09:09:03 PM
David Atkinson's  Spring Notes

Cruickshank Notes    Spring  2018

As I write these notes the almost biblical ‘Beast from the East’ has already visited twice and is allegedly slouching its way towards us for a third time. Fortunately, from the plants’ point of view, we haven’t had any prolonged precocious warm spells this year, so although buds are swelling there shouldn’t be too much tender young foliage exposed to the icy blasts, and delicate looking spring bulb flowers, crocus, iris, snowdrops and so on are remarkably resilient, keeping the faith as they lie under snow waiting for the thaw and a frost-proof pollinator. Despite the continuing cold, we are at the point in the year where the winter sense of plenty of time to catch up on all those jobs in the garden, can suddenly give way to mild panic as our short intense growing season abruptly crosses the starting line.

There are of course signs of spring in the Cruickshank Garden too, the snowdrops in the grass area on the right as you come in through the Chanonry Gate will soon be joined by a host of golden daffodils, buds on the resurgent rhododendrons on the light are swelling and some colour is already visible. As every year, the winter flowering Iris unguicularis, at the foot of the southern wall of the Cruickshank Building, has arrived early at the party and is already showing off its fragrant pale purple flowers.  I noticed today that here at Craigievar a plant of this species is deigning to flower in a well-drained position at the foot of a south-facing wall.

In the nearby beds - formerly known as peat-beds,  Helleborus argutifolius, is opening its light-green leaves. This species, whilst growing happily enough in shade, is more compact and less floppy in a sunny situation, whilst its near relative, H. foetidus, which can be seen in the nearby beds on the right as you walk through to the remaining weeping elm, thrives and stays upright in very shady woodland conditions, its lime green flowers contrasting pleasingly with its dark green leaves. The flowers on the witch hazels, Hamamelis cvs, to the left and right of the path have all but faded, but the red petal-less flowers on their relative, Parrotia persica, are still busy advertising their wares.
The early rhododendrons in the bed on the eastern edge of the sunken garden, R. dauricum, R. mucronulatum, and the hybrid R. ‘ Praecox’ are all flowering well, pleasant at this time of year if not the most exciting colours. The bulb lawn in the sunken garden is about to reach its peak, the early flowering dwarf daffodils and irises soon to joined by erythroniums (dog tooth violets) whose pleasing mottled foliage is already visible.
On the terrace, the splendid and sumptuously flowered, Paeonia rockii, as do my two specimens, stubbornly refuses to produce anything that looks like viable seed, though this year’s buds are already swelling. So far the palms in the metal containers here have survived the winter winds though I imagine them cursing their lot and dreaming of sunshine and heat. The Himalayan Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’ fills the air with the fragrance of its clusters of pale lilac flowers. This evergreen shrub thrives in a sunny, sheltered spot in town, though I have not yet managed to get one to thrive with me.  D. bholua is one of a number of species of Daphne that are used in traditional paper-making in Nepal and the inner bark also yields a fibre that is used to make rope. Although all parts of the plant are said to be poisonous, the bark and roots are used in traditional medicine in Nepal to treat fevers - don’t try this at home!

In the rock garden area, enjoy the many patches of spring bulbs and note particularly the lovely Iris ‘Katherine Hodgkin’, an amazing hybrid between I. winogradowii and I. histrioides. It is much more vigorous than many of the cultivars and has significantly larger bulbs. The flowers are an extraordinary mix of cream and yellow overlaid with blue and green and the bulbs increase well in a sunny well-drained situation. Snowdrops and snowflakes, Leucojum vernum, abound and the spring flowering and very hardy cyclamen, C. coum whose species name more likely refers to Koa or Quwê  (an ancient region in eastern Cilicia now part of Armenia and south-eastern Turkey), which is part of the species' natural range, than to the island of Kos, where the species does not grow, is flowering beautifully, having taken over from its Autumn flowering relative C. hederifolium, whose intricately and variable patterned foliage is still pleasing.

So let us hope that actual Spring does not lag too far behind calendar Spring and that both are succeeded by a long hot summer!        
                                                       David Atkinson
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on May 07, 2018, 08:01:42 PM
Thanks to Tricia Schooling, we are able to see these photos she has taken at the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
These  first ones are from the end of April ....




Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on May 07, 2018, 08:03:03 PM
These are from Tricia yesterday - 6th May 2018






Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on May 07, 2018, 08:04:57 PM
and  ....




Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Maggi Young on June 26, 2018, 12:54:48 PM
Scotland's Gardens Aberdeenshire
Cruickshank Botanic Garden, University of Aberdeen

Come and enjoy an evening tour with the Curator, Mark Paterson and Head Gardener, Richard Walker. The garden comprises a sunken garden with alpine lawn, a rock garden built in the 1960s complete with cascading water and pond system, a long double sided herbaceous border, a formal rose garden with drystone walling, and an arboretum. It has a large collection of flowering bulbs and rhododendrons, and many unusual shrubs and trees. It is sometimes known as The Secret Garden of Old Aberdeen.
Admission is £5, Children Free.
The admission price includes tea/coffee and biscuits.
For more details, please see

Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on September 24, 2018, 02:24:12 PM
Delighted to share the latest  notes from the CBG from David Atkinson.....

Cruickshank notes Autumn 2018

Now westling winds have brought autumn’s pleasant weather and hopefully the weary farmers are being delighted by the waving grain wide o’er the plain. It is certainly still pleasantly warm though there’s an autumnal coolth in the morning and local inhabitants of frost hollows have scraped their windscreens once already. For those of us who enjoy heat and for many plants, it has been a remarkably pleasant hot summer albeit with somewhat less rainfall than is ideal. In many gardens lawns stopped growing for a month or so with those in south facing free-draining situations turning to yellow straw. Trees and shrubs in particular that had been planted this spring, suffered from the drought and some unfortunately will suffer no more.

Warm though it has been, it has still not been warm enough to induce flowering let alone fruiting of the kiwi fruit vine, Actinidia chinensis which is scrambling energetically over the rhododendrons in the bed on the left as you come into the Cruickshank Garden from the Chanonry. This plant, introduced by Chinese Wilson from, unsurprisingly, China, is a very vigorous climber with hairy reddish shoots and large heart-shaped leaves reaching heights of 5 metres or more even in Aberdeen; a striking climber for an exotic jungle look.

The white berried rowan, Sorbus forestii, in this same bed is carrying a good crop of small white berries among its elegant pinnate foliage. This is an excellent small garden tree, more compact than its larger white-berried cousin, Sorbus cashmeriana, which is clinging to life  a mere 20m away in the paved area in front of the Cruickshank building. The warm weather has helped produced a good crop of tasty small blueberry-like berries on the Amelanchier alnifolia , the Shadbush or Saskatoon, in the first of the former peat beds near this last rowan; a medium-sized shrub, this is a very hardy, attractive, spring flowerer thriving in any reasonably moist soil with the bonus of tasty fruit.

Round the corner in the bed by the back of the Cruickshank building, an attractive lacecap hydrangea, H. aspera, is in full flower, with heads of delicately coloured lilac-blue flowers surrounded by pale pink sterile ray florets. There are a number of specimens of this Himalayan species in the garden, hardy and thriving in a sheltered woodland situation where the wind doesn’t spoil its large rough-textured leaves.

On the left of the path to the weeping elm, the pods on the excellent tall pinnate-leaved shrub, Decaisnea fargesii, are slowly turning to their unlikely shade of blue, advertising their beans which nestle in the pods in allegedly edible clear jelly. Said weeping elm is unfortunately faring less well; the Dutch Elm disease which stalks Aberdeen, and caused the demise of the specimen by the pond has inevitably struck and this important focal point in the garden is past saving. In the nearby shrub border the American hawthorn, Crataegus succulenta with large red berries, looks dry and unhappy, while its next door neighbour, a sulky Gingko biloba, the maidenhair tree, which ought to relish hot weather, looks no more cheerful than usual.
However further down the border the tall South American evergreen, Eucryphia x nymansensis ‘Nymansay’ is wreathed in large white many-stamened flowers. Eucryphias are cited in Hillier’s manual as suitable for north and east facing walls, however, while this may apply in Winchester, they need a good sunny situation to flourish and flower in our northern latitudes. In the area between the shrub border and the rose garden the large and wide-spreading Chinese tree, Tetradium daniellii is already  carrying corymbs of white, allegedly pungently-scented flowers, though its normally very elegant long pinnate leaves are much reduced, hopefully from a lack of water rather than any other darker cause.

It is a good year for berries, drupes, pomes and indeed all many of fruiting bodies and the Scotch and species roses at the southern end of the rose garden are a hippy delight.

In the sunken garden the dangling bright red plum-like fruits of Podophyllum  (now properly Sinopodophyllum ) hexandrum  catch the eye as does  the true blue of the willow gentian flowers, G. asclepiadea along the length of its arching stems. In a sunny spot on the north side flowering stems of the South African endemic Eucomis comosa, the aptly named ‘Pineapple lily’ relish a sheltered well-drained niche and bring a tropical touch to the scene. The herbaceous border was and hopefully is still very full of floral delight, invisibly supported by the new netting. The various colour forms of Eupatorium maculatum, Joe Pye weed still looking good as do the many varieties of Phlox paniculata, including the striking purple ‘Le Mahdi’, one of my favourites.  Admire too the architectural cardoon, Cynara cardunculus, as illustrated by Hazel Carnegie. The cardoons are selectively bred forms of the same species as the globe artichoke, but while the flower buds can be eaten much as small (and spiny) artichokes, more often the stems are eaten after being braised in cooking liquid. Only the innermost, white stalks are considered edible, and cardoons are therefore usually prepared for sale by protecting the leaf stalks from the sunlight for several weeks. This was traditionally done by burying the plant underground, thus, cardoon plantations in Spain are often formed by characteristic earth mounds surrounding each plant, the earth covering the stalks. In modern cultivation, the plant is usually instead wrapped in black plastic film or other opaque material. Late-comers like the Japanese anemones are also adding their fresh flowers to the display.

On the warm south-facing wall a second vigorous climber from mountainous regions of Japan and Korea, the crimson glory vine, Vitis coignetiae, is scrambling over all the sickly embothrium, Colutea x media with its inflated seed pods and even the nearby wisteria. This vine with attractive red coloured leaves, particularly in poorish soils can easily reach 20 metres or more up trees and smoother lesser plants. A striking Crinum cultivar with persil-white flowers is thriving under the shade of the big pine and the soft pink of self-sown soapwort, Saponaria officinalis softens the edges of the paving.

And so to the rock garden, where the tail-end of summer is still around as autumn creeps on; so the last of the Angel’s fishing rods, Dierama pendulum, share the picture with fresh patches of the charming Cyclamen hederifolium and another fine specimen of Hydrangea aspera is cool and fresh under the developing fruits of Magnolia wilsonii.

So mists and mellow fruitfulness lie before as do hundredweights of ripening apples – cider anyone!

David Atkinson
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on October 03, 2018, 04:52:45 PM
FCBG plant sale coming up..... Saturday 27th October  10.30am - 12noon

Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on July 09, 2019, 06:47:03 PM
 Garden Notes  from  David  Atkinson

Cruickshank Notes Summer 2019

Last summer was but a fond memory as I splashed through the Chanonry gates into the Cruickshank garden on a wet, cold dreich Thursday in ‘flaming’ June, with full waterproofs and an umbrella to keep the rain off my notepad. Whilst overall the rain was much needed, in a well-ordered world it would fall overnight, starting a little later at the weekend in case there had been prolonged festivities.

The effects of last summer’s dryness and sunshine, both positive and negative have been evident this year. On the positive side the sun-ripened wood on many trees and shrubs has produced a magnificent display. Lilacs, often desultory up here have been spectacular, hardy hybrid rhododendrons have carried many a sumptuous truss and the pocket-handkerchief tree, Davidia involucrata, in a garden I tend, was bedecked with its large white bracts. On the downside some other rhododendrons, if not completely killed, are showing the stress of the conditions in smaller leaves and dead branches. A significant number of rowans are also a lot less ‘foliaged’ than I would normally expect.

Hawthorns both native and exotic have also flowered magnificently in hedgerows and gardens hereabouts and the specimen in front of the Auris building is carrying a large crop of ripening haws. On the opposite side of the road in the bed by the new sunny bench in front of the Cruickshank Building several small specimens of Cistus laurifolius are starting to flower. This plant, of which a number of large specimens thrived for many years in the nearby bed now occupied by a sundial, according to both Hillier’s manual and my experience is the hardiest of the species, doing well even inland in sunny well-drained poorish soils. Just past this on the left, the recently planted black mulberry, Morus nigra, is doing well and will soon be worth a visit on a cold and frosty morning.

The beds of deciduous azaleas to the south of the herbaceous border, are a mass of orange, yellow, and pink and even on a very grey day the peeling cinnamon bark of the paperbark maple, Acer griseum, close by, gives an illusion of warmth. The floriferous theme will be continued by the nearby beds of that hardy stalwart of shrub borders, Deutzia spp., their arching branches wreathed in pink flowers. The thriving specimen Decaisnea fargesii by the path leading to the sadly deceased weeping elm, has many dangling racemes of greeny-yellow flowers leading hopefully to a fine crop of long electric-blue seed pods in autumn. Unfortunately the witchhazel, Hammamelis japonica, just behind it is almost completely dead, another drought victim I would think.

The Japanese umbrella pine, Sciadopitys verticillata, in the border leading to the St. Machar Drive boundary wall, looks pleasingly gaunt against the grey sky and is carrying a fine crop of maturing cones. This plant, a ‘living fossil’ is the sole member of its family, endemic to Japan and found in the fossil record from about 230 million years ago, and is very hardy if slow-growing, thriving in a coolish site even in upland Aberdeenshire. The specimen trees planted along the wall are also worth a look; there is, inter alia, a good specimen of the appropriately named Acer macrophyllum, the Oregon maple, a fine Malus yunnanensis, and a range of Crataegus species including a curiously unpendulous Crataegus laevigata ‘Pendula’ and a well-flowered spindle tree, Euonymus hamiltonianus.

At the western end of the sunken garden by the path down to the bulb lawn is a good specimen- though a little trammelled by an importunate climber - of the purple-leaved rhododendron R. ‘Elizabeth Lockhart’. This cultivar, bred by Professor Lockhart, professor of anatomy at Aberdeen University and a keen gardener and named for his mother, has good red flowers and splendid glossy purple foliage. The heyday of the bulb lawn has largely passed but a dark blue flowered Camassia esculenta, a North American meadow plant is still looking good. In the bed at the western end of the bulb lawn a large patch of the fairly soundly perennial viola ‘Inverurie Beauty’ is already covered in large deep purple-blue flowers.

The herbaceous border is getting into its stride, with good clumps of dame’s violet, Hesperis matronalis, the burnt orange pea, Lathyrus aureus, paeonies, perennial honesty, Lunaria rediviva and a dark fuchsia-pink Geranium macrorrhizum and much more. By the summer house the bladder senna, Colutea x media ‘Copper Beauty’ is covered in charming orange pea flowers though the formerly magnificent Chilean fire bush, Embothrium coccineum behind it is reduced to a single spindly stick.

On the nearby terrace the long racemes of scented white and purple wisteria are delightful and the neighbouring currant, Ribes speciosum has a fine crop of fuchsia-like red flowers.  The Tasmanian mint bush, Prostanthera cuneata, at the other side of the terrace is covered in lilac-flushed white flowers; this is hardy enough to thrive in Aberdeen but needs a very sheltered site further inland. Further along this sunny wall towards the rock garden entrance, there is a fine and well-flowered Abutilon x suntense, with large pale purple flowers; this too requires shelter and sun and hasn’t so far deigned to survive with me, though I know specimens which thrived for many years in Ballater.

Then finally, and rather damply to the rock garden, where though there are still flowers to delight, the main annual display is over. The Magnolia wilsonii in the bed at the bottom of the slope is coming to the end of a magnificent show of large pendant white flowers, there is a fine pale blue Ceanothus (?) in full flower at the top of the slope and much more to warrant a stroll in between. 

 David Atkinson

Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on September 11, 2019, 08:07:43 PM
Cruickshank notes Autumn 2019 by  David  Atkinson

There are, I learn, two conceptions of autumn; meteorological autumn and astronomical. The former starts on the 1st of September and gives way to winter on the 30th of November whereas the latter runs from the autumn equinox, 22nd/23rd September to the winter solstice, 21st/22nd December. Thus, while I am writing the notes only in the former, we will be doubly autumnal by the time you read them.
It does indeed feel pretty autumnal now, nights are conspicuously drawing in, there is a distinct coolness in the air and actual storm clouds are joining the political ones hanging over the country. It has been a very ‘growthy’ year; reasonably warm with plenty of rain after last year’s prolonged dryness; far more grass to cut, twice the growth on some hedges and blight on a number of tattie varieties.

So to the Cruickshank garden to make damp notes on soggy paper on a drizzly Thursday. Firstly I was sad to notice that the Magnolia kobus, towards the back of the area on the right as you enter via the Chanonry gate, whose very existence I’d only recently become aware of, has split where two limbs were at too acute an angle and lost nearly half its crown. I have a large willow, whose narrow v branching I failed to spot early enough, which is destined to suffer the same fate, you can already see the fault line running down the trunk. Two further woes are close by; the weeping ash, Fraxinus excelsior ‘Pendula’ on the left as you come into the courtyard has early signs of ash die-back and on the other side of the courtyard the Sorbus cashmeriana, now a mere stick is carrying a few meagre bunches of white berries as it loses its years-long battle with whatever fungal infestation is killing it. Under the big double gean, Prunus avium ‘Plena’ here, the red flowers of the late summer flowering Hesperantha coccinea lift the spirits. This South African member of the Iridaceae, formerly known as Schizostylis coccinea, does well in our northern latitude in a reasonably sunny situation in moist well-drained soil. If the soil is too dry, however, it tends to produce lots of grassy foliage and no flowers.

In the beds at the west end of the courtyard, two poisonous plants with glistening berries can be seen; deadly nightshade, Atropa belladonna, with shiny black berries, and red baneberry, Actaea rubra with red berries. This latter, a shade-lover   from North America, was apparently used as an arrow poison by native Americans and there is a somewhat alarming first-hand account from 1903 in the Wikipedia article on this species of ‘a non-fatal case of experimental self-intoxication’ (Don’t try this at home!). There is a related British species, Actaea spicata, Herb Christopher with glossy black berries; not widespread it grows in ashwoods on limestone in northern England- and in the Cruickshank garden, on the edge of the sunken garden (I think?). But the most impressive of the berried species of Actaea is A. pachypoda, Doll’s Eyes, with white berries with a black stigma scar (hence it’s common name) and thickened red pedicels (flower stems) and which also grows in the garden.

The Decaisnea fargesii, a Chinese pinnate-leaved shrub on the left before you get to the dead weeping elm, will have a good crop of its electric blue pods, containing inedible blue seeds, and an allegedly edible jelly with the ‘ taste of watermelon’- I tried it last year and won’t bother again! This deciduous shrub is essentially hardy though can suffer in late frosts and enjoys sun or semi- shade reaching an eventual height of 3 to 4 metres.

 In the Shrub border, leading down to St Machar wall, is a fine floriferous evergreen, Eucryphia x nymansensis covered in large white flowers with prominent stamens, flowering well after last year’s warmth. To the left against the wall Acer macrophyllum from Oregon  is living up to its name with handsome leaves a foot or more across, though they can apparently reach 2 feet in width in the wild. A large specimen of the common lime Tilia x europaea, along the same wall to the west has flowered well the leafy bracts still prominent and on the southern edge of the sunken garden a Chinese lime, Tilia henryana, with handsome toothed leaves is flowering (for the first time?) with clusters of tiny white fragrant flowers.
The sunken garden is still only partially accessible as the disabled access awaits completion, but there is a fine patch of the Viola ‘Inverurie Beauty’ in the bed at the western end of the bulb lawn, covered in scented rich violet flowers; a sound and vigorous perennial in flower from late spring well into autumn. Climbing through the rhododendrons on the south side is a perennial nasturtium, Tropaeolum tuberosum ‘Ken Aslet’ flowering well with tubular flowers with orange/red sepals and yellow petals. In colder inland areas the tubers require some frost protection; these tubers are grown in the Andes as a minor food crop known as Mashua and can be grown as such here, though I haven’t yet tried. Again according to Wikipedia the tubers have a strong spicy flavour and a reputation as an aphrodisiac. 
The herbaceous border is still full of flower with too many delights to mention them all though the Japanese anemones were looking particularly good as were the various Phlox paniculata cultivars, and a white agapanthus. In the south facing bed at the foot of the warm wall the Japanese herbaceous perennial, Aralia cordata, is imposing at well over 7/8 feet tall with a larger spread and impressive bi or even tri-pinnate leaves and large umbels of small white flowers beloved by bees and flies. This species is widely grown for food in Japan for its young shoots which are blanched and eaten as a vegetable.

Thus finally to the rock garden, where the entire pool system is being renovated, its bare bones visible for the first time in ages, and looking accordingly a little stark. But the Cyclamen hederifolium particularly under the metasequoias are delightful and the subtle purples of the lace-cap inflorescences of the large hairy-leaved hydrangea, H. aspera, have a pleasing beauty about them.     
   David  Atkinson.
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on October 06, 2019, 01:29:45 PM
Next  plant  sale  ...... 26th October 2019

Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: P. Kohn on October 07, 2019, 08:43:14 AM
Am I right in thinking the plants in your sale are all donated by Friends ?  Are any plants for sale raised in the garden ?  Trying to think about the future of our own sales in Sheffield Botanic Gardens. For the record, we have our final sale of the year next Sunday (13th) and our [plants are currently predominantly seed-raised in the gardens and feature lots of rarer and more unusual species but very few cultivars,
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on January 18, 2020, 05:03:13 PM
Cruickshank Notes Winter 2020

As the sounds of Saturnalian revelry subside, as tinsel and baubles resign themselves to
eleven months of tedium in a draughty loft and as my daily consumption of satsumas
returns to single figures, it is perhaps time to muse upon the past year and ponder the
uncertainties of the year to come.

There was quite a change to the view as I approached the Chanonry entrance to the
garden on a cool and breezy December day, the sky no longer filled by the mature beech
that has guarded the entrance for some nearly a century and a half – if my casual ring
counting is anywhere near the truth. Sad though its felling may be, it has opened up the
whole area to the east of the Cruickshank building, increasing the available sunlight and
decreasing the competition for food and drink; a fine opportunity to extend and enhance
the existing planting of mainly species rhododendrons.

The weeping ash on the left-hand side of the path, sadly infected with ash die-back,
looks at its best now, its wide-spreading branches easier to admire in their leafless state.
On the other side of the path, in the bed under the large double flowered gean, the South
African Hesperantha coccinea, formerly known as Schizostylis coccinea, was still in
flower, a welcome patch of colour on a dull day. The once fine Sorbus cashmeriana
unfortunately continues to lose its battle with whatever fungal infestation is killing it,
while close by in the bed by the side of the new sitooterie, the group of Cistus laurifolius
seem to be thriving and, as attested by their seed heads, flowering well.

The new seat affords a comfy, close up view of the two ‘formerly known as peat’ beds
now mulched with woodchip, a little too wood coloured at the moment, but like youth
this won’t be a problem for long! I was just checking the RHS advice on using fresh
woodchip as a mulch and as my children would say they seem basically cool with it.

“Wood, including bark from larger, mature trees can be chipped and applied as a fresh
mulch on both unplanted areas and around plants on well-established beds. However, be
aware that woody materials may contain compounds that harm plants (phytotoxic) which
are produced by the plants to deter potential herbivores and/or help suppress the
germination and growth of competitor plants (allelopathy). Whilst the concentration of
such chemicals is unlikely to affect mature, well-established plants, it is better to avoid
using fresh broadleaf chippings on newly planted beds”. So now you know!

One of the useful volunteer plants, to be found in the garden (attractive self-sowers
whose random distribution is sometimes better than our conscious decision) is
Helleborus foetidus, the stinking hellebore aka, apparently ‘Dungwort’ , a British or
more specifically English native. This handsome plant thriving even in quite deep,
particularly deciduous shade, starts to flower in late winter or early spring from the
strong almost succulent upright stems it has made the previous summer. Its drooping
cup-shaped flowers appear in spring, and are yellowish-green, often with a purple edge
to the five petal-like sepals, and a number of named forms are available. The cultivar
'Green Giant' has very bright green flowers and finely divided foliage; 'Miss Jekyll' has
fragrant flowers, intensity varying with the time of day; 'Wester Flisk Group' has red-
tinted leaves and stems and grey-green flowers; the 'Sierra Nevada Group' is dwarf. The
plant, despite its common names, does not smell though allegedly the foliage is pungent
when crushed – I’ll let you know! All parts of the plant are poisonous, causing violent
vomiting and delirium, though ethnobotany, especially in the regions of Southern Italy,
suggests that the poisonous qualities were used in folk medicine, including as an
abortifacient. Decoctions of the leaves can be used as a topical treatment against
parasites and fleas. The root of the plant is a heart stimulant -but don’t try this at home.

I was too early for the witchhazels and their cousin, Parrotia persica, to be in flower but
a myriad buds on various specimen suggest that by now there should be a fine display.
The hedges round the rose garden look as neat and well trimmed as usual, though only
hips provide colour here. The herbaceous border has given up for winter and it’s too
early for the warmth of the long brick wall to have encouraged any flower. Though in
the rock garden area spring-flowering Cyclamen coum will soon be taking over from the
autumn Cyclamen hederifolium and if it stays as warm as it currently is snowdrops must
be imminent.

David Atkinson
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on January 18, 2020, 05:10:04 PM
From the  latest  FCBG newsletter .....

October Plant Sale 2019
A very big thank you to all who contributed – providing plants, helping on the day and coming to buy plants. The final total made was £528.   

Spring Plant Sale on Saturday May 9th 2020 Now is the time to plan how our own gardens will develop, bloom and produce this year.  If you can spare a few extra plants when you are potting up seedlings and herbaceous divisions and bringing on young vegetables and herbs, they would be very welcome to sell at the Spring sale.  This is our main fund-raising event of the year and an opportunity for us all to contribute. Do remember to label each one using waterproof ink.

In the  January  FCBG newsletter there  was  an error  in the  link to download a  free  copy  of  Alan R. Walker's  pdf - Identif  Mountain Flowers of Britain and  Ireland   - this  is the  correct  link : (

 Identify Mountain Flowers of Britain and Ireland This reference guide comes as a downloadable PDF, free of charge from: (   Each of the 104 species are described in close-up photographs, distribution maps, labelled diagrams and locations. It can be used on any smart phone, tablet, e-reader or computer that can download and display PDF files in full colour. (If you wish to have a printed version, the PDF can be downloaded to a memory stick and given to a full-colour laser printing service, where a copy will cost around £12. )
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on March 20, 2020, 11:02:32 AM
"Dear Friends
You are probably already aware that Aberdeen University is closed and all events at the University in March, April and May are cancelled. The Cruickshank Botanic Garden is also closed, to staff and visitors alike
Consequently the 2 remaining evening lectures and the Spring Plant sale cannot go ahead.
It is hoped that the the autumn will see an improved situation. If we can resume meetings, we hope to catch up with the AGM then.

Wishing you all well  "

Marion Hart

Friends of the Cruickshank Botanic Garden

Registered Charity SC004350

Membership Secretary "
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: P. Kohn on March 22, 2020, 05:13:39 PM
If the gardens areclosed to staff, how are they to be maintained ?
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on August 10, 2020, 06:36:03 PM
As  the  gardens are  still closed, and  there  are  few  other  events  to report, the  Friends  of  CBG have  issued  a newsheet - perhaps  there  will be  a  newsletter again in September with  some  idea  of  how  things will proceed.
A former  Secretary  of  the  FCBG, Dr.  Gordon Smith, who as  also a  long-term member  of  SRGC, died on 15th April - and  a report  he  made  from Chelsea  Show  in 1989 is used  in the  news  sheet  as  a  tribute  to him.

Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Maggi Young on September 02, 2020, 04:23:09 PM
University of Aberdeen - School of Biological Sciences

"The Cruickshank Botanic Garden is still locked down except for staff working on campus. Behind closed doors it's still as bright and alive as ever, perhaps even more so with all the overgrowth!
Some patches of long grass have recently been trimmed back, and new social distancing measures are in place!
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on October 12, 2021, 08:30:27 PM
As things begin to return, however slowly, to normal, the Cruickshank Garden is open once more.
Edna Rhodes has taken over  the writing of the  FCBG Notes - and it is a pleasure to present those from the latest newsletter here:



 apologies for the two different sizes of image - not sure how that came about and it will not fix for me!
Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Cruickshank Friend on December 17, 2021, 05:00:07 PM
Cruickshank Garden News

Mark Paterson, Curator has reported the following:
· · The recent creation of suitable facilities for volunteers has resulted in their being able to return to the Garden; they are already making a very welcome impact.
· · Storm Arwen resulted in just one toppled tree, a 20 metre Lodgepole Pine in the Southern Garden. It conveniently fell onto a bed and did not wreak havoc!
· · The Arboretum did not escape Storm Barra where three conifers became compromised. One of these trees is in a very dangerous state; until it can be dealt with, the Arboretum must remain closed, at least until the New Year.
Thankfully, timely  management of trees over recent years has forestalled major issues during this winter season, hence the lack of significant damage. Most importantly, human limbs were safe even if arboreal ones were not.

An Exhibition in the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
I open my eyes, there's no one
From 12th December 2021 to 28th  February 2022
From December the poignant exhibition “I open my eyes, there's no one” will be on display at Cruickshank Botanic Garden in Aberdeen. This is a result of collaboration between the University of Aberdeen and the Polish Association Aberdeen, a Polish diaspora organization established in 1993, whose ambition is to create and strengthen a positive image of Poland and Poles, promote democracy, human rights, including the rights of ethnic minorities.
By referring to universal values, the exhibition deals with a difficult but important subject in an original and accessible way. It tells the story of the copyists from the Białystok ghetto, Jewish artists whose talent was exploited by the Nazis, which, however, did not protect them from extermination. The unique narrative of the exhibition is taken over by memoirs and graphics of Izaak Celnikier, a Holocaust survivor, a Jewish painter born in Poland, a prisoner of the ghetto and concentration camps, a participant of death marches, whose story was a direct pretext for the exhibition.

 CBG Calendar

This will be available from the UNIPRINT shop from Monday 13th December, at a cost of £9.
The online link for purchases is
You can see miniaturised versions of the beautiful calendar pages below.

It may be possible to visit the Uniprint shop to buy calendars directly. The unfolding Omicron variant situation makes this uncertain; it is best to phone the shop prior to a visit on 01224 272578, to check that it is open to visitors.
Shop opening hours: Mon to Fri  9.00—12.00 and 13.00—16.30

Title: Re: Notes from the Cruickshank Botanic Garden
Post by: Maggi Young on May 11, 2022, 07:37:21 PM
From the Friends of the Cruickshank Botanic Garden:
The final lecture of the 21/22 season will be held on 18th May in the Zoology Lecture Theatre, University of Aberdeen, Tillydrone Road.

This will be our first in-person lecture for over 2 years and is a cause for much celebration. We hope you will join us. All the details are on the advertisement below. The garden will open late beforehand.

It has taken a great deal of effort by many on the committee to make this event happen, and we hope you will support us by coming to the event. It would be a great shame, and indeed embarrassing, if Ken Cox had very few folk in the audience. Ken has spoken to the Friends before, but this is definitely a subject he has not covered previously.

Please do note that the lecture is on a Wednesday and NOT our usual Thursday slot. This is because is it being held on Fascination of Plants day (

FCBG look forward to seeing you on 18th May for an entertaining lecture and the opportunity to meet eachother afterwards for refreshments.

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