Garden of the Season – Logan Botanic GardensJuly 18th 2023
The Mull of Galloway enjoys a benign climate, surrounded by water on three sides and with some of the highest sunshine levels in Scotland. Even when the rest of the country is blanketed in snow or crisp with frost, this southern peninsula remains largely untouched.
This favoured position means that Logan Botanic Garden, which is part of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, can grow a wide variety of sub-tropical plants, including species from Chile, South Africa and Australia. The abundance of exotics, including palm trees and towering echiums, give Logan an atmosphere that’s unlike any other garden in Scotland and amongst the tree ferns and cabbage trees visitors can discover giant Chatham Island forget-me-nots, bottlebrush trees, Watsonias and Dieramas - better known as Angel’s fishing rods.
There’s a gunnera forest, tender ferns and, in summer, scented tea tree plants, while the pond within the walled garden is covered in lily pads. One of Logan’s most intriguing plants is the Filo Pastry Tree, a Polylepis australis with bark that peels off in layers.
Species that are too tender even for Logan’s favoured climate are overwintered in an ornamental greenhouse, which is fuelled by green energy, while fuchsias, red hot pokers, gingers and gladioli add a riot of colour to the perimeter borders in summer.
But Logan isn’t just designed to look good, it’s a garden with a serious purpose, helping in efforts to conserve some of the world’s rarest and most threatened plants. The Chilean wine palm (Jubaea chilensis) now grows in only a handful of places in its native country so the scattered populations, including those that grow at Logan, are essential for its survival and for efforts to reintroduce it to the wild.
Other rare species include the Madeira foxglove, Aloe polyphylla from Lesotho in southern Africa and the Lobster Claw, which has distinctive red, claw-like flowers, and which is now critically endangered in New Zealand.
Many of these and other exotic plants that grow here are difficult to cultivate and the expert gardening team includes several plant hunters who scour remote areas of the world, helping to find plants that are on the brink of survival and bringing back seed from which to grow them in protected conditions.
Logan’s public areas cover six areas and its plant collections have grown rapidly in the last decade, with a Tasmanian Creek dedicated to eucalyptus and woodland packed with shrubs from around the world. The trees that surround the garden are essential to its survival, protecting it from the salt-laden winds that can break branches and scorch tender foliage.
Housed in a white-washed cottage, once home to a succession of head gardeners, is Logan’s Discovery Centre where visitors can find out more about the garden’s history and about its ongoing work.
As well as cultivated plants, Logan is also a treasure trove of native wildflowers, including orchids and voles, shrews, roe deer, hares and a huge number of birds and insects. There’s also an award-winning cafe, The Potting Shed Bistro, catering for the thousands of visitors who pass through the gates of Logan every year.
There’s always something going on at Logan, from pond dipping and bug hunts for children to guided walks where staff explain the history of the gardens and its abundant plants and on Thursday, 13 July, Stranraer African Drumming Group, Drum For Fun, will be making a big noise amongst the flowers.
Logan Botanic Gardens are open daily, 10am - 5pm
Tickets: £7.20/£6.30/under 15s free
Tel: 01776 860 231
The gardens are 14 miles south of Stranraer on the A716/B7065
Courtesy of The Herald