Jamie Taggart, who with his father Jim Taggart created the inspiring Linn Botanic Garden on the Rosneath peninsular, disappeared during a plant hunting expedition in North West Vietnam on 31 October 2013. This week sad news broke that Jamie’s body has been discovered two years and a month after he was last seen. There are no suspicious circumstances. It appears that Jamie, who was searching for high altitude plants, probably fell and was injured resulting in his death. Jamie Taggart was not the first plantsman to lose his life in pursuit of botany and his tragic death makes us all aware of the need to take all necessary precautions when working in remote and inaccessible places. Our sympathy is with Jamie’s family who have suffered so much in the past two years and especially his father Jim, who shared a passion for plants, and has lost not only his son but his creative partner in the vision of arcadia that they built between them.
I have written in a previous blog about the book Another Green World which is a remarkable collaboration between the artist Alison Turnbull and writer Philip Hoare that celebrates the charm and achievement of the Linn Botanic Garden. It is a wonderful intimate portrait of the Garden, and the father and son who have dedicated themselves to nurturing it. ‘For all their scientific rigour’ write’s Hoare ‘these two men – set a generation apart yet irrevocably linked by the botanic collection for which they bear collective responsibility – are as much artists as scientists. Linn is after all, a construction – perhaps even a romantic one. “People come here and say how natural it all is”, says Jamie. “No it’s not.”’
Gardens are not monuments and if we must classify them as heritage it is the kind of heritage that is perpetually changing. When I visited Linn earlier this year I felt it was in good heart but as Jamie noted a garden is hard work and when the effort slackens wild nature will inevitably return. No one knows what the long-term future of Linn Botanic Garden will be but I am sure that it will continue to be the inspiration to artists and scientists, as well as those want to escape into Another Green World, for years to come. Jim Taggart is a remarkable person and our hearts go out to him during these difficult times. I trust that he will find support he needs from the botanical and horticultural community that have benefited so much from the Taggarts and their Garden.
An exhibition by Alison Turnbull featuring images of Jim and Jamie Taggart and their Garden is in the John Hope Gateway until the end of January 2016. The Guardian review of Another Green World (Art Books, 2015) can be found on http://www.theguardian.com/books/gallery/2015/oct/15/linn-botanic-gardens-scottish-in-pictures-philip-hoare