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Field Guides & Natural History  Botany  Plants & Gardens

Cherished Plan The Story of Puck's Hut at Benmore

By: David Gray(Author)
56 pages, 28 colour & b/w photos and b/w illustrations
Cherished Plan
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  • Backlist Bargains Cherished Plan ISBN: 9781910877357 Paperback Sep 2020 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 1 week
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About this book Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

Cherished Plan celebrates RBGE at Benmore and the desire to commemorate Sir Isaac Bayley Balfour, a renowned academic, botanist and visionary. Scratch a little deeper and it becomes clear that his modest memorial building Puck's Hut, encapsulates and reflects a wide range of developments in Scotland's environmental awareness over the past 150 years. The many threads running through the narrative can be related to current concerns on climate change and effective management of land resources. Culminating with how people are encouraged to access the outdoors and interact with trees and plants.

Customer Reviews (1)

  • Memorial to a visionary: Sir Isaac Bayley Balfour
    By charles 25 Sep 2021 Written for Paperback
    Sir Isaac Bayley Balfour, was a towering figure in the world of botany and the promotion of Britain’s forests in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Puck’s Hut (see cover illustration) was opened in 1928 at Benmore as a celebration and memorial to his life and this book, a description of how it came to be built, sets out some of the things he did and why we should know about him. With COP26 due to take place in Glasgow shortly, it is appropriate to draw attention now to this most energetic and visionary scholar who was a driving force in working for better national recognition of the value of forests through, for example, the establishment of the Forestry Commission and the spectacular Botanic Garden at Benmore. The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE), of which Sir Isaac was Keeper from 1888-1922, celebrated its 350th anniversary last year. It began as a physic garden, situated close to Holyrood Palace, but now consists of four gardens located across central and south-west Scotland (Edinburgh, Benmore in Argyll, Logan in Dumfries and Galloway, and Dawyck in the Scottish Borders) which are renowned not just as places to visit and enjoy but also, though perhaps less visibly, for their international work in capacity building and scientific research.

    Benmore Garden lies near Dunoon in Argyll, some 90 minutes travel west of Glasgow. It hosts specimens of approximately 50% of the world’s endangered conifers, while the herbarium in Edinburgh contains around three million records, representing between half and two-thirds of the world’s documented flora. At a time when we better understand the value of trees, not just for their beauty and economic importance to rural life, but also their indispensable role in retaining water, reducing flooding and mitigating climate change, through carbon capture and storage, this book celebrates one of Scotland’s giants in the world of botany and arboriculture. One of the great achievements of the RBGE is in helping countries to write floras, for if countries do not know the extent of their botanical resources how can they properly value them? Floras of Nepal and Bhutan are recent publications.

    Isaac Balfour (1853-1922) was the son of John Hutton Balfour (1808-1884), also a Regius Keeper, and Isaac was raised in the environs of the Edinburgh garden. By the age of 26, he was Professor of Botany at the University of Glasgow, followed by a four-year period as Sherardian Professor of Botany at the University of Oxford, before returning to Edinburgh in 1888 as University Professor of Botany and Keeper of the Garden, formidable achievements by the age of 35, and not to overlook that by then he had also written the Botany of Socotra and established a Winter Garden in what is now Glasgow Botanic Garden. As President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1894, he called for increased tree planting ‘as forests reduce the extremes of temperature of the air; they protect and control the water flow from the soil’. He also discovered the absorptive and antiseptic properties of dried Sphagnum moss, and by 1918 over one million dressings per month were being used in British hospitals. For this work, he was recognized with a knighthood. Should you be fortunate enough to visit Benmore you will see this remarkable building set amidst one of Scotland’s most spectacular arboreta.
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David Gray was born in Edinburgh, gaining his DHE (Hons) qualification as a student at RBGE and helping to develop private gardens in Argyll before joining the staff at Benmore in 2005. He is now a Senior Horticulturalist and has been on many expeditions overseas to support ongoing expansion of the living collection.

By: David Gray(Author)
56 pages, 28 colour & b/w photos and b/w illustrations
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