Benmore for Silences, Squirrels and Sounds
Hi-res images available on request
Long appreciated as a place to unwind and feel closer to the natural world, Benmore Botanic Garden, in Argyll & Bute, has been receiving extra recognition since registering as Scotland’s first Silent Space. But, with a magnificent 120 acres, there is more than enough room for a fantastic line-up of activities this summer.
Benmore created two quiet areas in response to a call from the not-for-profit project Silent Space, which had already signed-up a number of gardens south of the border to reserve an area where people could be silent. For a couple of hours each week, visitors to these quiet areas were invited to switch off their phones and to stop talking.
The Garden’s Curator Peter Baxter explained: “With the other three Gardens of Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE), we are committed to providing experiences that are beneficial to well-being, so when we heard about the project, we created two Silent Spaces at Benmore. One is situated in a secluded spot on the hillside, amidst a collection of species Rhododendrons, and has magnificent views across the Garden and Strath Eachaig to the mountains in the east. The other is in the tranquil Golden Gates Arboretum among statuesque conifers and majestic Giant Redwoods (Sequoiadendron giganteum).
“We have received some incredibly positive feedback from visitors and Logan, our sister Garden in Dumfries & Galloway, has now signed up as Scotland’s second Silent Place.”
The sound of silence does not appeal to everyone, but some quiet observation is also recommended to catch the antics of the Garden’s red squirrels. Much to the delight of visitors, the last couple of months have witnessed unsurpassed activity around the Squirrel Hide. Look out too for birds such as bullfinches, woodpecker and nuthatch.
Calling in to the Courtyard Gallery, from July 5 to August 26, reveals the delights of Flora Scotia. In this exhibition botanical artists showcase Scottish native plants in a major new international initiative involving more than 25 countries. The display at Benmore is organised by the Scottish Botanical Art Collective (SBAC) and features art works selected by a panel of prestigious artists and scientists. Entry included with Garden admission.
For a special evening of entertainment, tickets are already selling for a one-night-only performance in the Courtyard by leading jazz trumpeter Lorne Cowieson. A member of the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, Lorne also plays widely with other top artists such as Emeli Sande, Konrad Wiszniewski, Brian Kellock and Stefan Maus.
Originally from Dunoon, on Saturday, September 1, Lorne heads back to home territory to perform with guest musicians in the Courtyard. He said: “I and my fellow musicians are used to performing at all kinds of different venues but the jazz evening at Benmore will be quite special.’’
Jazz at the Courtyard is a fundraising event organised by Friends of Benmore in support of the Garden’s internationally-important research and conservation work. Booking is essential and tickets costing £10, available from Sybil Gray on 01369 706261 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. http://sbac.org.uk/.
Later in September, on Saturday 22, join RBGE Research Associate mycologist Dr Stephan Helfer for a Fungal Foray. With its collection of exceptional plants and supported by the moist west coast climate, Benmore is a haven for interesting fungi. Stephan will shed light on the mysteries of this separate kingdom – neither plant nor animal – and introduce visitors to the good the bad and the dangerous to know. Meet at the covered notice board near the café at 14:00.
Finally, another fundraiser that doesn’t require a trip to the Garden, although it could certainly help. With its mission of exploring, conserving and explaining the world of plants for a better future, RBGE places importance on encouraging greater public engagement with nature. From now until the end of October, the rallying call is to take your camera out and about – wherever you are - and send the results for entry in a prestigious new photography competition.
From Cowal to Canterbury and beyond, entries are being sought for the Friends of RBGE Photography Competition 2018. With seven categories ranging from Plant Portrait and Abstract to Young Photographer, for under 17-year-olds, there are no geographic boundaries.
With a top prize of £1,000 and category wins of £250, the competition is being supported by Brewin Dolphin, Bonaccord and Jessops. Its aim is to attract amateur and professional photographers whether or not they already know RBGE and its work.
The 2018 Photography Competition is now open for entries and runs until October 31. All funds raised will be used to support the Garden's world-class research and horticulture conservation work in Britain and in more than 30 countries around the world. As well as the top prize of £1000 and Individual Category Prizes of £250, all shortlisted entries will appear in an exhibition at RBGE’s Edinburgh site in early 2019 and there will be opportunities for winning entries to be part of RBGE’s 350th anniversary year calendar in 2020 as well as images being transferred into canvasses by Jessops. To enter and find all terms and conditions visit http://www.rbge.org.uk/whats-on/photocomp
For further information, interviews or images, please contact: Olivia Lyall on 0131 248 2942 or Shauna Hay on +44 (0)131 248 2900/07824529028
Benmore Botanic Garden is part of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE). It sits on the A815, seven miles north of Dunoon on the Cowal Peninsula. Western Ferries sail from Gourock. It is open daily to the public from March 1 to October 31.
In its magnificent mountainside setting, Benmore is steeped in history and surrounded by dramatic scenery. The Garden’s 120 acres are home to a world-famous collection of plants from regions ranging from the Orient and the Himalaya to North and South America. In particular, it is renowned for its collection of more than 300 species of rhododendron.
The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) is a leading international research organisation delivering knowledge, education and plant conservation action around the world. In Scotland its four Gardens at Edinburgh, Benmore, Dawyck and Logan attract a million visitors each year. It operates as a Non Departmental Public Body established under the National Heritage (Scotland) Act 1985, principally funded by the Scottish Government. It is also a registered charity, managed by a Board of Trustees appointed by Ministers. Its mission is “To explore, conserve and explain the world of plants for a better future.” Learn more: www.rbge.org.uk
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