Last monday (2nd March 2015) I headed across to Benmore Botanic Garden with Martin Gardner & Nye Hughes (designer and web developer at Dalrymple), while there I saw (and photographed) a range of the activities going on at Benmore. I thought I’d use this blog to document some of the things that are happening across at Benmore and hopefully that would encourage more staff to head over.

These images are not the best, as it was cold and snowing at the time and I was just documenting some of the work we were doing and some the work that the staff of Benmore have been doing, it was not “serious” photography, just my working snaps.

First stop, after a coffee with Peter Baxter (the Curator at Benmore),  was to see the horticulture team felling two large Abies that had to come down because of crown damage. Good preparation had meant that the first trunk came down at around 9.45 am and was already half away by 10.30 when we arrived, and the second tree would be down by the end of the following day.


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It was then onto to see if a previously felled Monkey Puzzle, that has been stored on chocks out of the mud for a number of years, would be suitable for providing wood for interpretation panels. Monkey puzzle wood has fantastic colours & shapes from the arrangement of branches (see an image of the freshly cut wood here in Pintrest)



Then onto the Golden Gates to view results of the new drainage in that area of the garden, and to see if the golden gates were still gold.

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Next stop was the fernery to see the techniques that the staff at Benmore have undertaken to ensure that some of the more tender ferns survived the winter, both from the cold and wet but also from animal grazing.

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Onto the Bhutan area of the garden, and the three new Scottish Chortan’s; one at the top  of the hill and one at bottom; (and an unphotographed one halfway up the valley). It was also great to see the oak of the two year old Bhutan pavilion “silvering” nicely.

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Then along to the Chilean area of the garden to view the progress of the planning – this area is now 18 years old and the zonal planning scheme (left bottom of the hill – right top of the hill) is becoming evident.

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On the way up Chilean area, Martin stopped to take cuttings from various Fitzroya cupressoides (the IUCN – Endangered, Patagonian cypress).


Over the past few years, it has proved very hard to get wild collected material of this species out of Chile, so we have to make sure that the material that we are growing “works” as hard as possible. Therefore, Martin is taking cuttings for propagation from each of the accessions that are represented by one individual plant.



At the top of the hill it became apparent why Martin was doing this, here was one of the plants that Martin was going to sample, it had been blown over by the wind during the winter storms.




At at the top of the Chilean area is the new Chilean Viewpoint Refuge;  one of the main reasons for our visit.


We had come over to discuss the plans for interpretation of the Chilean area and the Refuge,  what would be appropriate, how big, what it should cover, where it should go, what material etc.

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We also saw how the constructions of the final paths were progressing. The aim is to provide access to this shelter via the Benmore “buggy” allowing this part of the garden to be seen by the less mobile member of the public.

It was then back to the office for a chat about plant records, bed locations, collecting codes, audio tours, stock taking and other much less photogenic office based topics.



Robert Cubey

Plant Records Officer.