Garden of the Season – Dawyck Botanic GardenNovember 8th 2022
Why should we visit?
This steep, hillside garden in the Borders is home to one of the finest tree collections in the country and in autumn its soaring pines and spreading beeches are at their finest.
Set at 850ft above sea level, Dawyck has the ideal climate from growing trees from some of the world’s most mountainous regions, including Tibet, Nepal and North America and many of the species that grow here are rare in their native zones.
For visitors the garden provides a spectacular setting to enjoy some of the smallest and largest specimens that the plant world has to offer and to breathe the clean air of the Borders.
Story of the Garden
From the 17th century onwards, the Dawyck Estate was owned by several families, all who shared a passion for covering the hills around Stobo with trees arriving from America and the Orient. By the time that the garden passed into the care of the Royal Botanic Garden in 1978, it was home to many notable trees and work has been ongoing since then to maintain and enlarge the collection and to help conserve rare Scottish plants, such as the Woolly Willow (Salix lanata).
From Giant Redwoods, Dawn Redwoods and Douglas Firs, grown from seed collected by the great Scottish plant hunter, David Douglas himself, Dawyck has a fine assortment of soaring Leviathans. The oldest tree in the collection is a Silver fir (Abies alba), which was planted in 1680, while the original Dawyk Beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘Dawyck), unusual in that it takes on a columnar shape as it matures, still grows in the garden.
The Scrape Burn makes a dramatic centrepiece to the garden and its banks are damp and mossy. In fact Dawyck is home to the world’s first cryptogamic sanctuary, an enclave where mosses, liverworts, lichens and other simple plants are conserved and studied. Fungi in particular predominate in autumn and across Dawyck’s 25 hectares many different species flourish.
Anything else to look out for?
Many of Dawyck’s huge collection of azaleas take on good autumn colour. These, along with rhododendrons, are some of the garden’s most spectacular collections and even now the indumentum - the velvet-like substance that covers the backs of some species of rhododendron - is worth discovering.
Best Time to Visit
Dawyck is a year-round garden and in winter, when the canopy is bare, the pines can be seen at their very best. There are snowdrops in spring and in May huge numbers of blue poppies (Meconopsis) grow around the fringes of the trees. The cafe remains open all year.
Any Recommendations in the Area?
The imposing ruins of Dryburgh Abbey sit beside the River Tweed at Newton St Boswells. St Walter Scott is buried in the nave and the grounds are home to many fine trees and in spring there are carpets of daffodils.
Dawyck is eight miles south of Peebles on the B712
Dawyck Botanic Garden is open daily, 10am - 5pm
Tickets: £8/£7/free (under 15)
Tel: 01796 481207
Courtesy of The Herald