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Journal American Rhododendron Society

Current Editor:
Dr. Glen Jamieson ars.editor@gmail.com


Volume 52, Number 2
Spring 1998

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Further Ramblings at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh
Peter Kendall
Portland, Oregon

        In an earlier article (Fall 1997), I explored my peregrinations in the Rock Garden at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (Inverleith) and through the vireya collection on the same premises. Both were exhilarating experiences.
        In this short space, I shall attempt to convey my commensurate captivation with the balance of the garden at Edinburgh (Inverleith); in addition, I offer a glimpse of the stellar attraction of the Younger Botanic Garden at Benmore, the second major campus among the four under the aegis of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.
        As I alluded to earlier, the garden at Inverleith achieved its highest acclaim under the stewardship of Isaac Bayley Balfour from 1885-1922. It was he who appointed George Forrest to a position which in 1904 resulted in his dispatch to China where he discovered some 300 new species of rhododendrons, many of which now grace the Inverleith grounds.
        Besides the world class Rock Garden, the rest of today's meticulously groomed 65 acres comprises a number of specific major areas including an arbor, a woodland, a copse, peat beds, a pond, an herbaceous border, a Mediterranean garden, and a demonstration garden. Moreover, a wonderful series of large glass houses to protect a wide array of temperate and tropical species (including the vireyas) exists along side a recently developed (1977) alpine area with a framed alpine house and adjoining trough gardens.

Trough Garden, Alpine House, 
and Glass House.    R. argyrophyllum ssp. nankingense 
'Chinese Silver'
Trough Garden, Alpine House,
and Glass House.
Photo by Peter Kendall
   R. argyrophyllum ssp. nankingense 'Chinese Silver'
Photo by Peter Kendall

        As I was in Scotland in early May 1996 for the first offshore international convention of the American Rhododendron Society, I was in a position to witness a highlight of spring - the blooming of a wide assortment of rhododendrons from the smallest shrublets to full size trees. Many other exquisitely selected companion plants were also sporting their fullest charms. I offer the ensuing photographs to convey something of what I experienced in this very special place.

R. sanguineum haemaleum    Trillium eretum
R. sanguineum haemaleum
Photo by Peter Kendall
   Trillium eretum
Photo by Peter Kendall

        It was in 1929 that Harry George Younger gifted what amounted to 11,000 acres to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh for its first specialist garden. The original owner James Duncan had fortuitously planted some 6 million trees between 1870 and 1883. In contrast to Inverleith, this garden lies in an area of clean air and high humidity. The situation brings together many different aspects: a valley on boulder clay; riverside; steep hillsides of schistite rocks and thin acidic soils; and a mild oceanic climate of Scotland's west coast. This garden receives 80-120 inches of rain a year, most falling between September and December. This adds up to an ideal setting for a wide spectrum of rhododendrons and conifers.

Garden scene with castle in 
background.    R. reticulatum
Garden scene with castle in background.
Photo by Peter Kendall
   R. reticulatum
Photo by Peter Kendall

        In the photographs, I again attempt to impart something of the impression made upon me by this unique garden.

R. macabeanum x 
R. sinogrande    R. eximium
R. macabeanum x R. sinogrande
Photo by Peter Kendall
   R. eximium
Photo by Peter Kendall

Peter Kendall, a member of the Portland Chapter, is a frequent contributor to the Journal.


Volume 52, Number 2
Spring 1998

DLA Ejournal Home | JARS Home | Table of Contents for this issue | Search JARS and other ejournals