Benmore Fernery — 10 years on

We are delighted to share with you a brief update on the restoration of the Fernery at Benmore Botanic Garden

It is remarkable to think that just over 10 years has passed since the once ruined fernery at Benmore Botanic Garden was restored on a winding hillside path. In fact, this was restored to such a high standard that the project received the Glasgow Institute of Architects Design Award for Conservation in 2009, and in 2016 it was one of twenty buildings selected as an award winner by the same institute.

As you may have experienced as a visitor, this beautiful Victorian structure nestles amidst rocky cliffs and provides a dazzle of light, space and lush greenery. Ferns sprout from rocks in delicate feathery foundation, creep along the ground, and cascade down walls. However, prior to its refurbishment, this structure had lain in decay for decades.

Originally constructed in the 1870s under the ownership of James Duncan, the Fernery fell to ruin in the years following, but was designated a category B listed building by Historic Environment Scotland, who described this as ‘a rare structure and important as an integral part of the gardens at Benmore.’

Since the opening of the renovated fernery in September 2009, there have been various developments associated with the project.
The original planting performed well, allowing for the addition of new species. The natural rock face east wall is now colonised by many ferns, and the whole fernery is an extremely verdant space.

New terraces in the fernery gulley have been planted with a broad range of temperate ferns, including mass plantings of the ‘Royal Fern’ Osmunda regalis, collected from various Argyll locations, and shrub species that associate well with ferns. Above the fernery, the relatively hardy tree fern Dicksonia antarctica should start to have a visual impact by 2030.

We are deeply grateful for your help in restoring this Fernery to its original glory, making it possible for visitors of the past decade and future years to enjoy this beautiful and historically significant space.

With best wishes,

Peter Baxter
Curator, Benmore Botanic Garden