A trip to Dawyck Botanic Gardens

We had a well earned Saturday off this weekend. Work is hectic for both of us at the moment and the next few weekends will be spent working, with lots more packing and de cluttering for the house move in between. After a well needed lie in and lovely breakfast of croissant, wild boar salami, chilli brie and Jamaican coffee we set off for the afternoon. Our destination was Dawyck Botanic Gardens, an out post of the the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh situated near Peebles and only just over half an hour from home.

Bracken goes to Dawyck

It's years since I've visited the gardens, and I've always been trying to get back but life gets in the way. One of the many things I am looking forward to when we sell the house and downsize is having more time and money to travel,visit places we've always wanted to see and experience lots of new places and things.
Mateucia struthiopteris
Dawyck lies in the beautiful borders countryside, the woodland garden clothing both sides of a small valley around a tumbling stream above Dawyck House. It has been described as one of the finest arboretums, and indeed its collection of trees is outstanding. Under planted with many fine specimens of shrubs, Rhododendrons and perennials, there is colour all year round but in spring it is outstanding. There are many paths up either side of the valley taking you up to the chapel or view point or round the top of the gardens where you have beautiful views of the countryside and tranquil walks through stands of birch or fine beech trees.

Heading into the gardens
The run down to Dawyck is lovely and a road we know well, then we arrived in the middle of a shower (the forecast was for heavy rain, but when we were contemplating what to do at breakfast the sky was quite high and armed with coats and umbrella we were happy to dodge any showers). Bracken was de piddled and put back in the car, only assistance dogs are allowed. The shop, visitor centre and cafe are all new since I was last there, the building has been well built sympathetically with its surroundings, softened with existing trees and the cafe with its floor to ceiling windows gives lovely views whilst eating. Once we'd paid out £6 each entry fee, we ventured back out into the rain and up into the gardens. The spring colour hits you as soon as you leave the visitor centre with bluebells and a stunning stand of Mateucia struthiopteris, then fabulously big plantings of Trilliums in white and red.


We decided to walk up one of the paths that follows the side of the stream, criss crossing over wee bridges. through over hanging Rhododendrons, heavy with beautiful large flowers. The rain went off and the sun came out and it was warm and a very enjoyable walk, a chance to catch up and make plans as we meandered through the gardens. Of course there was lots for me to photograph and David made the most of the great diversity of lichens and mosses, another interest of his.

Textures and colours
By the time we reached the top of the hill we were warm! We followed the path through stands of Birch and eventually to the Cryptogamic Sanctuary, where there is information about this area of botany. For the curious 'Cryptogams' make up around 84% of the worlds botanical diversity: they include the fungi (including lichens), bryophytes (moses, liverworts and hornworts), the pteridophytes (ferns and horsetails) and algae.

Beyond this area are stands of huge trees, with dappled sunlight filtering through the fresh green young leaves, it was indeed tranquil and a lovely place to just be.

From here it's an amble down through newly planted shrubs and trees with lovely views of the surrounding hills and Dawyck house.

Once back at the visitor centre, we had some lovely lunch sitting at a window table with lovely views up into the gardens. We'd highly recomend their soup (real soup) and rolls, oh and coffee of course. I'd thoroughly recomend a trip to Dawyck at any time of year but particular now in early May