A glimpse of Victorian Scotland

A change of scene (and country) for my next posts, which will be taking you to Scotland. The first stop on our trip is the Isle of Bute, a tiny piece of land located 30 miles West of Glasgow. Bute is usually reached by a ferry which arrives in the delightful town of Rothesay. This is the view from a golf course located above the town, with gorse in full flower:


Rothesay was a very popular tourist destination in the Victorian era, and a lot of that heritage is still visible, with seaside villas, a promenade and “winter gardens” pavilions. We even got to see the PS Waverley, the last passenger paddle steamer in the world:


The stone walls of the town are home to many ferns and mosses. But one plant in particular seems to be growing well on Bute, the fairy foxglove (Erinus alpinus). This is a native of Central and Southern Europe mountains (Alps, Pyrenees…) which has become naturalised in Scotland:


A walk on the heights of Rothesay led us to a nice little woodland path. At that time of the year (May), bear’s garlic (Allium ursinum) is in full flower:


The flora of the area is not uninteresting, with pignut (Conopodium majus), opposite-leaved golden saxifrage (Chrysosplenium oppositifolium), wood Speedwell (Veronica montana), Rustyback (Asplenium ceterach) and Dryopteris fern:

An interesting first-timer for me is the thimbleberry, Rubus parviflorus, a North American bramble species with large pure white flowers:


After this quick botanical walk, we decided to visit Ardencraig Gardens, a small walled garden in Rothesay now owned by the local council. The garden, established in the 1910s, was part of a larger estate which was built on, so it is a bit weird to find it in the middle of 1970s housing. The glasshouses, restored recently, host a range of old-fashioned potted plants such as Solenostemon (coleus) and begonias:


Interestingly though, one of the glasshouses is home to a completely different set of plants – cacti, and particularly the National Plant Collection of Mammillaria:

National Collection of Mammillaria (10)

The Collection contains over 160 species and forms of Mammillaria, many of which are threatened in their natural environment (deserts in Mexico and Central America):

It was rather informative to see the progression of pea-sized seedlings to young and mature plants:

National Collection of Mammillaria (18)National Collection of Mammillaria (11)

The grounds of the garden are home to traditional bedding plants, which were not yet out in May (this is Scotland!), so unfortunately I can’t say much about it, but official summer pictures say it all…

The gardens


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