A grove of Giant Redwoods, Dawyck Botanic gardens in the Scottish Borders
If you like trees, I can thoroughly recommend a visit to the Dawyck Botanic gardens, near Peebles, where 350 years of sustained interest and plant collecting from the cool temperate areas of the world are beautifully laid out. Its a real contrast after driving through the rolling Borders farmland – relatively treeless- to arrive in such a lush environment.
After studying the weather-forecasting runes we aimed to be there on the sunniest day possible – given our Scottish summer so far this year. And, the sun did shine – inbetween the dark clouds – for a good 5 minutes all afternoon. The Scottish photographer has to become lightning-fast at seeing opportunities, composing, focussing, taking the image within a few seconds as the sun briefly illuminates a scene before instantly moving on again.
The garden has what are thought to be the oldest Douglas Fir in the country, planted here from seeds collected by the explorer David Douglas in 1827 , soaring alongside baby Giant Sequioa, already amongst the tallest trees in the country. There are also many rare trees from expeditions to northern China and the Himalaya, alongside native Beech and Oaks.
Here’s a quote from a favourite tree-book:
“To enter a wood is to pass into a different world in which we ourselves are transformed. It is no accident that in the comedies of Shakespeare, people go into the greenwood to grow, learn and change. It is where you travel to find yourself, often, paradoxically, by getting lost.
When Auden wrote, ‘A culture is no better than its woods,’ he knew that, having carelessly lost more of their woods than any other country in Europe, the British take a correspondingly greater interest in what trees and woods they still have left. Woods, like water, have been suppressed by motorways and the modern world, and have come to look like the subconscious of the landscape. They have become the guardians of our dreams of greenwood liberty, of our wildwood, feral, childhood selves … But they are also repositories of the ancient stories, of Icelandic myths of Ygdrasil the Tree of Life, Robert Graves’s ‘The Battle of the Trees’ and the myths of Sir James Frazer’s Golden Bough. The enemies of the woods are always enemies of culture and humanity.”
– Roger Deakin (Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees)