Monday, February 17, 2014

Branklyn: yet another breathtaking Scottish garden

Corydalis elata
Starting off with a BANG! A bright blue mass of corydalis greeted us when we arrived at Branklyn, one of the finest gardens of the Scottish Trust. This was a private garden featuring many rare alpines and woodland plants first created by Dorothy and John Renton (you can read much more about it on this and many other websites). It has had a succession of horticulturists who have continued to develop this garden since the Rentons passed it on to the Trust: the current director, Steve McNamara, is shown below. The shoes he's wearing may not appear to be that big, but I suspect anyone who follows him will feel as though they're boats!
Steve McNamara, director of Branklyn garden

I have visited many public gardens--hundreds come to think of it!--but rarely has the weather and the season been so cooperative. I will inflict a hundred or more pictures on you from this garden (believe it or not, I have many more): this is a "point and shoot" garden where it's almost impossible not to get something lovely in the frame. I could blather on about almost any of the pictures, but I think they really speak for themselves. The captions provide a bit of a chorus: I'm anxious to get this into cyberspace now that winter still rules rather cruelly in the Northern Hemisphere (at least in America) where it should be hinting more of spring.

Celmisia sp.

Rosa moyesii 'Geranium'

Closeup of Rosa moyesii 'Geranium'

Meconopsis sp. and Primula bulleyana

Richea scoparia--a pale form--from Tasmania

Typical lush border with Allium in background.

Closer view of Onions (several sorts) and mossy trough

Geranium palmatum: surprisingly hardy here

Calanthe 'Kozy grex'

Calanthe 'Kozy grex' closer up

a mat forming broom with ubiquitous Dactylorhiza in front

View of the rock garden from above

Another view of the rock garden

Dactylorhiza everywhere

More orchids with golden ivy
Another celmisia!

Corydalis flexuosa--used as an edging!

Dactylorhizas in the troughs (probably not planted there!)

A crazy Acanthocalyx--rarely seen in cultivation, alongside common pinks

Iris chrysographes in the middle

Cardiocrinum giganteum v. glehnii

A wonderful red flowered Rodgersia

Trollius chinensis

Aconitum lycoctonum

Lilium MacKliniae

Stellera chamaejasme Mongolian form

Stellera chamaejasme Southern Chinese form

The rock garden from below

Do I need a caption?

Rhodiola fastigiata

More beauty!

And MORE beauty!

and MORE Celmisia

Dare I say, the pond?

MORE Meconopsis, MORE Dactylorhiza...

Wish I could come back in a few days to see this lily--oh yes, more mecs!

More Cardiocrinum giganteum (Chinese forms) and more mecs..

A white Meconopsis

I love steps like this.

Rhodiola rosa (front) and Bulbinella hookeri (back)

Of scenes like this are dreams made of: Mecs and Maples...aaah!

Notholirion macrophyllum, not a common plant in gardens.

More views of mecs and maples--just love this spot!

Can you tell I've had a hard time tearing myself away?

Aconitum lycoctonum

My hostess, Carole Bainbridge, and Steve in the background

Closer view of
Notholirion macrophyllum

Morina longifolia

Morina longifolia

Helianthemum cv. in the foreground--and another lovely vale

Morina longifolia

Morina longifolia even closer up: love this plant!

Silver Saxifrages very happy

And yet MORE Celmisias!

Can one ever tire of blue poppies?

Yes, more!


Mere columbines and primulas...

A choice lily--failed to note the species (possibly L. jankae?)

Wonderful medley of Candelabra primulas

Lilium cf. albanicum

Closer view

Enchanted path

Great combo of hosta, poppy and dark Cimicifuga (refuse to call them Actaea) behind.

A wonderful rose red Jurinea...or perhaps Centaurea...must have some thistles in Scotland!

Meconopsis x sarsonsii says the label

A very strange lavender pink Mec with hot orange red primulas: only in Branklyn!

A bold Chinese Sibiricae: clarkei perhaps? or blue chrysographes?

A Nomocharis

Cornus canadensis and evergreen azalea make a great comb

Clintonia andrewsiana

More medleys with Mecs!

Calanthe tricarinata

A spectacular clump of Marhan hybrid lilies--combined so well with ferns and mecs. This is sublime gardening!

A wonderful albino Dactylorhiza

Remarkable color variation in this clump

The path goes on and on, edged with no end of woodland gems

Add caption

Cardiocrinums are irresistible even in leaf

More Balkan/Caucasian lilies...

Imagine this pale yellow Mec in a week!

Prunus serrula  on the left, a bold contrast to the path and greenery

Who ever thinks of Mecs with pale pink flowers?

One of the large paniculate Mecs--a wonderful pale yellow one

Another enchanted path with paler blue poppies and rhodies...aaaaaaah....

Here the Dactylorhiza make a great foil for the Morina in the upper left.

Another wonderful combination of elements in a scree-like meadow

Chinese irid of the Sibirica section (40 chromosome)--quite small however.

Did I say I love blue poppies? But then again, who doesn't?

The juxtaposition of cherry petals and prostrate Colchicum looks deliberate.

Red fallen rhododendron flowers make great contrast to blue poppies

The sort of complex harmony one yearns for in a rock garden meadow

 Need I say anything?

Dactylorhiza coming out of a cushion of Bolax gummifera

Moraea huttonii almost identical to what we grow in Denver

Moraea huttonii from further away


  1. Fantastic !! Isn't it a amazing what you can grow with a little precip !!!??

  2. At first I was jealous, then I thought "that must be a lot of work to maintain." You would never see a garden like that in my area. However, from your many photos this quality of garden must be par for the course in Scotland. Americans will never have gardens like those in Scotland. My countrymen are too busy fracking rock to spend any time gardening with it.


  3. The Europeans have certainly exploited resources in their day--and continue to do so--although I think conservation is a higher priority for them. And they have had more resources at their command (we have squandered our's in trying to be the world's policeman and saviors). Amazing what you can do with a spare trillion or two bucks: Europe has spent the money they've saved (thanks to us) on infrastructure, lifestyle and self-sufficiency. I think we can take some pages from their book--and let them do a bit more of their own policing--if our military industrial complex lets us, that is (they are good at waging a war of fear and intimidation in the US). Meanwhile we as a nation are busy trading our independence and future for creature comforts and cheap goods. And fracking is part of that deal, it's true. I hate to agree with you this time, James.

    1. Maybe we all could learn something from history. James

      "If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without blood shed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves."

      Winston Churchill

  4. Wow. Fantastic garden, it won't make me feel less successful wandering my own square, but it sure does raise the bar! (ok the bar is now out of reach)
    This single post has added three new plants on to the wish list :)


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