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Logan Botanic Garden (Dumfries & Galloway)

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Address: Port Logan / Stranraer / Dumfries & Galloway / DG9 9ND / Scotland

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      25.10.2009 08:46
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      Another wonderful place on the Mull of Galloway.

      I am not a great gardener. It would be fair to say that I have 'black fingers' as opposed to the 'green fingers' all the rest of my family possess. So one rainy day, many moons ago whilst on holiday in Galloway, South West Scotland, I was less than ecstatic about a proposed trip to Logan Botanical gardens. I thought I would be trudging up and down soggy paths, bored witless and not interested in the plants. I couldn't have been more wrong! The gardens were a delight! Years later and around my sixth visit to them they continue to develop and bloom! (pun intended!) I took my 82 year old Mum to visit them a few months ago. There is nothing that my Mum can't grow and I thought she would be delighted to see the thousands of varieties of flowers, shrubs and trees. She loved it but was unfortunately a bit tired that day and didn't see all of it. She did see the shop though, no suprise there as she is an indefatigable shopper. The drive up to the gardens is flanked by fields of healthy looking cattle grazing in the lush grass of the area, lowland Scotland get's it's fair share of rain! The ditches to the side of the road are full of what looked like huge spiky succulent plants. They were a nice foretaste of the many exotic plants that the gardens hold. At the top of the drive is a car park and the ticket cabin and shop. Parking is free and plentiful. Before you get to the little ticket cabin, take a look at the bird feeders which are placed around the area. I counted fifteen bluetits on one set of feeders and quite a few goldfinch too. A squirrel sat on the fence and eyed us nonchalantly. The shop is lovely. There are all kinds of gardening themed gifts and pictures, reasonably priced and well laid out. If you go through to the right of the entrance there is a fair sized area selling plants. I had to laugh at my Mum telling the sales ladies about what needing watering/pruning/moving into the light etc. All the plants looked good to me but what do I know? I pretended I wasn't really with her and read the information boards whilst I waited for her. Eventually, triumphantly clutching about eleven different varieties of lavender plant (slight exaggeration) she emerged from the shop! I noticed that there was a wheelchair by the shop entrance. I imagine that was for people to borrow if they were finding the size of the gardens a bit much for infirm legs. I contemplated strapping my Mum into it so we could actually get into the gardens but decided that patience was a virtue! We put the plants in the car and finally proceeded along the gravel path, through the disinfectant foot pad, and into the gardens. Hooray! The gardens were very quiet and peaceful, the only noise was the chatter of birds (and my Mum) and the occasional soft sound of running water. As you walk through the entrance gate there are some lovely old outhouses holding lecture rooms and offices etc. There are toilets here and they are always spotless with good disabled access. To the right as you come through the gate are the tea rooms. I will (and did!) get to them later. A gentle slope leads down to a beautiful ornamental pond. I love watching the fish in this pond and many benches are set along the edges so that you can sit and have a few moments resting. Some of the areas around the seats contain quite large bushes, so getting around them on the fairly narrow paths can get you a bit damp if it has been raining. Stepping stones occupy one corner of the pond which is nice because it is easier to see the fish from them. The pond is surrounded by inconspicous wires just above the level of the water. It looked as though the pondkeepers have the same problems with herons as I do! (Blooming fish stealing birds!) To the right of the pond is a lawned area with some sculptures of plant forms. I particularly liked the 'pea pods', the sculptures were low lying and added to the beauty of the place. I find some modern sculptures overpower the area they were designed for. These complemented the space they were in. The sheer size of the gardens is very impressive. Well kept gravel paths lead you around corners into little areas of different plants and shrubs, or opens out into panoramic views. The contrast between different areas is pleasing and sometimes unexpected. We walked along one path and came to a huge Gunnera bog. Gunnera looks like giant rhubarb and the whole massive plant grows new every year. It must be something to see the rate it grows at! I took a picture of my Mum standing under one of the leaves and she was dwarfed by it! Because the area is warmed by the Gulf Stream, the gardens take full advantage of that and grow a huge variety of tropical and sub tropical plants. There are a large amount of 'fern trees' and palm trees. Many plants grow here that it isn't easy to grow elsewhere. The gardeners must work incredibly hard because the whole place looks well groomed and inviting. Behind the scenes, much research and developement by botanists and other scientists add to the pool of knowlege that is vital to a world that relies on good agricultural practise. If I were an avid gardener I could tell you more about the varieties and names of the plants. They are all well signed but I can't remember their thousands of different names! Suffice to say, there were lots and lots of them! Laid out to show them off to their best advantage. After a while my Mum was finding the size and slopes of the gardens a bit too tiring so we made for the tea rooms. These are fairly large, very clean and smell wonderful. They sell a good range of foods from snacks to full meals. The staff here are friendly and helpful. One of them ran out from behind the counter to take a tray my Mum was stuggling with. We had decided to eat outside on one of the picnic benches, so the lady who was carrying my Mum's tray made sure we were comfortably settled and they even gave us some bread to feed the birds with! Prices in the tea room were very reasonable indeed. One of the many things I like about this part of Scotland is that the tourists don't get ripped off! The food was home made and delicious, what more could you ask for? Logan Botanical Gardens are one of four gardens which make up Edinburgh University Royal Botanical Gardens. Together they constitute one of the largest collections of living plants in the world. It is easy to believe going by the huge variety just in Logan! I reccommend these gardens as a wonderful day out if you are in the area. If you like growing things. If you enjoy beautiful scenery. If you are fascinated by nature. If you enjoy friendly and informative staff. If you like a fresh coffee next to a lovely water feature. If you like souvenir shops that have decent gifts in them. (and plants!) If you want to see more beautiful flowers than you can name. If you enjoy not being ripped off because you're a tourist. If you enjoy fresh air and gentle walks amongst beautiful trees and shrubs. If you enjoy watching wild birds. If you enjoy any or all of these things, this is a place not to miss. ~~More information and some beautiful pictures can be found on their website:~~ http://www.rbge.org.uk/the-gardens/logan ~~Opening times~~ Sundays only in February, 10am - 4pm Open daily 1 March to 31 October from 10am Closing: 5pm Mar 6pm Apr to Sep 5pm Oct ~~~Admission:~~~ Adults £4 Concessions £3.50 Children £1 Families £9

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