Summer, 2009 - Focus on Scotland

The Virtual Gardener must confess. The topic of Scotland has so inflamed her passion for gardens that sitting at the computer is insufficient. Scotland has so many superb gardens that a real trip is the only antidote. So, in writing this column I am hoping to similarly inflame your passion for Scotland and see if we can get so much enthusiasm together that a "Friends" trip to Scotland becomes a reality.

Gardens are such an important and revered part of Scottish history that at www.historic-scotland.gov.uk, they have a place right alongside "Historic Buildings" and "Monuments." Check out their "Gardens and Designed Landscapes" listings.

Okay, now go immediately to the National Trust for Scotland, www.nts.org.uk. Start wherever you like, it's all too fabulous -- from giant pineapple-roofed follies to miniscule cranny-packed walled medieval gardens. The Trust cares for almost 50 horticultural treasures -- start your list of must- see's here.

Perhaps we could go during their national celebration of gardening and outdoor living at the Royal Highland Center in Edinburgh -- visit www.gardeningscotland.com.

The Garden History Society presents a scholarly site filled with revelations at www.gardenhistorysociety.org. Read and learn.

At www.gardensofscotland.org there's a Scottish group similar to our Garden Conservancy that organizes garden tours throughout Scotland's 27 districts for various charities. OMG is all the Virtual Gardener can say.

The Royal Botanic Garden at Edinburgh, opened in 1670, is one of the world's greatest botanic gardens. Its three regional gardens in Benmore, Dawyck, and Logan complete its mission. Learn about their splendid displays and education program at www.rbge.org.uk. They have sent us some great images which will be a part of Focus on Scotland.

The Scottish National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens has undertaken the colossal job of cataloguing plants with a vast software system called Demeter. Go to www.nccpg.com and be heartened by all the good work plant geeks are doing across the pond.

Mr. Peter Boyd, www.peterboyd.com, museum curator and rose lover, tells the tale of Scots Roses and other pimpinellifolias. Must get some of these!

And finally, at www.electricscotland.com/gardening/plantlife/ you can read the entire book Plant Life in the Scottish Highlands. Written in 1952 by Alexander Holden, it begins beguilingly -- "Far to the north of England, beyond the smoke and noise of the great cities, lies that untamed wilderness of mountains, moorlands and bogs known as the Scottish Highlands." Yes! Wanna go? Send me an email at lparness@morrisparks.net!

- Lesley Parness

Lesley Parness is Superintendent of Horticultural Education at The Morris County Park Commission. She can be reached at lparness@morrisparks.net.