Nestled between folds in the low hills facing Loch Long the Linn Botanic Garden is one of Scotland’s lesser known botanical treasures – a remarkable collection of plants demonstrating the passion and horticultural talents of father and son, Jamie (junior) and Jim (senior) Taggart. A few years ago, during a residency at nearby Cove Park, artist Alison Turnbull discovered the botanic garden and became enchanted by it. Art/Books have now produced a new book, Another Green World, in admiration of this remarkable space described as one of the most botanical diverse places in Scotland, with photos and drawings by Alison Turnbull and an essay by Philip Hoare.
The book, which is being launched in the John Hope Gateway of the RBGE on 1 October, is a beautiful and worthy tribute to the garden that inspired it. For those that have visited Linn the photographs by Alison and Ruth Clark will evoke perfectly the atmosphere of the appropriately titled Green World. For those who haven’t there will be inevitable comparisons with the mossy, but far more tightly controlled gardens of Japan, or perhaps more accurately with the temperate rainforests of Chile, New Zealand or the Himalaya where many of the plants originate.
The essay that accompanies the photographs, by author Philip Hoare, is a delight. Combining his acute observational skills with his gift for storytelling I found it the perfect complement to the gentle, somewhat rambling, style of the garden and its curators (or creators). What is especially satisfying is how well the words and images are carefully matched to give an intimate portrait that is generous, respectful and kind.
If you are familiar with Alison Turnbull’s work you will not be surprised that there are sections that require deeper thought and focus. Her drawings derived from the Fibonacci sequence and the colour chart of 303 named Rhododendrons demonstrate her interest in order, taxonomy and diversity that has featured in much of her recent work. They are also testament to her love of Linn which is not a fleeting affair and by charting with such care and precision the exact shade of each flower as it opens fully in the muted light of West Coast she has shown that she also shares some of the intimacy of Linn garden with the Taggarts.
Alison Turnbull and Philip Hoare will be talking about Another Green World in the John Hope Gateway of the RBGE on 1 October, 6.30 – 8.30, and a small exhibition with the same title will be on show in the Gateway Gallery until 31 January 2016. Another Green World is published by Art/Books and will be available at the RBGE from 1 October (price £18.99).