Scottie's Monthly Photo Diary

- July 2014

I never go anywhere in Scotland without my camera and I take photographs wherever I go. Sometimes I go somewhere specifically to take photographs with a view to adding another page to the Rampant Scotland site. On other occasions I just see something that makes an attractive picture or else it's another graphic to add to the library to perhaps use on a future occasion. This is a selection of the best photographs I took in July 2014 with a commentary on each one. It thus forms a pictorial diary of my travels during the month which can be shared by everyone!

Rouken Glen Garden Centre

Rouken Glen Park is in East Renfrewshire, south of Glasgow. The estate was gifted to the citizens of Glasgow in 1906 by its then owner but responsibility for its upkeep was later taken over by East Renfrewshire Council. The commercial garden centre includes a restaurant and shop as well as the usual range of plants and garden tools and gifts for sale.

Roses are always popular in suburban gardens as they provide a bright splash of colour over much of the summer. There was a wide range of colours available but this yellow one caught my eye - and camera lens.

Cyclamen plants are native to Europe and the Mediterranean Basin. Cyclamen is Ancient Greek "kıklos" meaning "circle", because of the round tuber from which it grows. Petal colour may be white, pink, or purple, often with darker colour on the nose. Some cyclamen can be white flushed with pink. The Rouken Glen Garden Centre had a large selection of different varieties making up this colourful display.

Rudbeckia species are commonly called coneflowers and black-eyed-susans; all are native to North America and many species are cultivated in gardens for their showy yellow or gold flower heads. The name was given by Carolus Linnaeus in honour of his teacher at Uppsala University, Professor Olof Rudbeck the Younger (1660-1740), and his father Professor Olof Rudbeck the Elder (1630-1702), both of whom were botanists.

Chrysanthemum morifolium (also known as Florist's daisy and Hardy Garden Mum) is a species of perennial plant from the Asteraceae family. The plant is 1–3 feet (0.30–0.91 m) high and wide. It is popular as an indoor houseplant not just because it is an attractive looking plant but because it is capable of absorbing chemicals in the air. The clusters of flower heads show over a long period and are available in many colours, including red, pink, orange, yellow, white, and lavender.

Tropaeolum, commonly known as nasturtium (meaning literally "nose-twister" or "nose-tweaker"), is a family of roughly 80 species of annual and perennial herbaceous flowering plants. The nasturtiums received their common name because they produce an oil that is similar to that of watercress (Nasturtium officinale). It is a native to South and Central America and includes several very popular garden plants due to their showy, often intensely bright flowers. It comes in a range of forms and colours including cream, yellow, orange and red, solid in colour or striped and often with a dark blotch at the base of the petals. It is vigorous and easily grown, does well in sun and thrives in poor soil and dry conditions. All parts of Tropaeolum are edible. The flower has most often been consumed, making for an especially ornamental salad ingredient; it has a slightly peppery taste reminiscent of watercress, and is also used in stir fries. The flowers contain about 130 mg vitamin C per 100 grams (3.5 oz),[20] about the same amount as is contained in parsley.

Hydrangea (common names hydrangea or hortensia) is a family of 70-75 species of flowering plants native to southern and eastern Asia (China, Japan, Korea, the Himalayas, and Indonesia) and the Americas. Most are shrubs 1 to 3 meters tall. There are two flower types in hydrangeas. Mophead flowers are large round flower heads resembling pom-poms or, as the name implies, the head of a mop. In contrast, lacecap flowers bear round, flat flower heads with a centre core of subdued, fertile flowers surrounded by outer rings of showy, sterile flowers. Flowers are produced from early spring to late autumn. Some species can be white, blue, red, pink, light purple, or dark purple. The colour is affected by the acidity of the soil in which it is being grown.

Solidago, commonly called goldenrods, is a family of about 100 to 120 species of flowering plants in the aster family. Most are herbaceous perennial species found in open areas such as meadows, prairies, and savannas. They are mostly native to North America, and a few species are native to Mexico, South America, and Eurasia. Some American species have also been introduced into Europe and other parts of the world. They have bright, golden-yellow flower heads that bloom in mid to late summer. Goldenrods are an attractive source of nectar for bees, flies, wasps, and butterflies. In some areas, Goldenrods are held as a sign of good luck or good fortune. They are often considered as weeds by many in North America, but they are prized as garden plants in Europe, where British gardeners adopted goldenrod long before Americans as cultivated garden plants.

The label on this plant described it as "Leucanthemum Superbum Freak" - the name Leucanthemum derives from the Greek words leukos("white") and anthemon ("flower") and "superbus" is the Latin for superior, superb, excellent, distinguished; splendid, magnificent. I can agree with all those words - but "freak"?? Never!

Pollok Country Park

Pollok Estate is three miles south of Glasgow's city centre and is also home of the world famous Burrell art collection. The land here has been in the possession of the Maxwell family since the middle of the 13th century. There was a succession of three castles over the centuries until the present house was built around 1740. The house was remodelled and extended in 1890 by Sir John Stirling Maxwell. It now contains an internationally famed collection of Spanish and European paintings as well as porcelain and furnishings of the Edwardian period. Pollok House is operated by the National Trust for Scotland in partnership with Glasgow City Council. There are attractive gardens attached to the house and woodland walks in the country park which is administered by the city council. The Edwardian Kitchen Restaurant in the basement of Pollok House is renowned for its home baking.

Glasgow City Parks Department has a well-earned reputation for the way it looks after the city's many public parks - maintaining the reputation of the city as the "dear green place". The formal arrangements of the flower beds at Pollok are a wonderful example of their creative ability and attention to detail - despite the inevitable financial constraints!

Lobelia, red Geranium with multi-coloured leaves and mini chrysanthemums are all packed closely together into the nearest island bed to create a splash of colour on a sunny day.

Here's a close up of another planting area with multi-coloured French Marigolds. Why can't I grow bedding plants like these in my own garden?

This border has been planted in a less formal manner with a wooden wheel barrow adding an artistic touch to the picture.

Of course, it's not all formal gardens in Pollok Country Park - there is a profusion of wild flowers in other areas, especially down by the river Cart where these Himalayan Balsam such as these are flowering in profusion. A native to the Himalayas, it is now present across much of the Northern Hemisphere. as a result of human introduction. In some areas it has become so rampant that it is regarded as an invasive pest and attempts (usually unsuccessful) have been made to eradicate it. Common names include Policeman's Helmet, Bobby Tops, Copper Tops, and Gnome's Hatstand, all originating from the flowers being decidedly hat-shaped. Other names such as Himalayan Balsam and Kiss-me-on-the-mountain arise from the plant originating in the Himalayan mountains. After flowering between June and October, the plant forms seed pods 2 to 3 cm (¾ to 1¼ in) long and 8 mm broad (¼ in), which explode when disturbed, scattering the seeds up to 7 metres (23 ft). No wonder it spreads!

A bride and groom were using the backdrop of Pollok House to create memorable photos of their special day. It took me some time to get a clear view of just the wedding car - an old Jaguar saloon!

Culzean Castle Country Park

This is the Fountain Court at Culzean Castle (though the fountain was not in operation when this photo was taken). Culzean (pronounced Cul-lane) Castle and Country Park is above a cliff on the Ayrshire coast overlooking the estuary of the river Clyde. The Kennedy family established a tower there from the 12th century and an L-shaped tower house was built in the 1590s. But it was not until the 18th century that the wealthy family, known as the Earls of Cassillis, engaged Robert Adam to design a splendid castle, both inside and out. The castle incorporated a large drum tower with a circular saloon inside (which overlooks the sea), a grand oval staircase and a suite of well-appointed apartments. The National Trust for Scotland has retained a large selection of beautiful furniture, armour, weapons and paintings in the castle. When Culzean Castle was given by the Kennedy family to the National Trust in 1945, they asked that part of the castle should be given to General Eisenhower for his lifetime, as recognition for his role as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe.

After a lot of sunny weather in the spring and early summer this year, there had been hopes that this would help to encourage the butterflies. Although there are reports of good numbers in the south of England, so far there have been few signs of many butterflies, apart from the ubiquitous "Small White" and "Green Veined White". This Small Tortoiseshell feeding on an Inula was the only butterfly to be seen in the walled garden at Culzean on a lovely, warm, sunny day.

The first time I saw Callistemon was in a greenhouse at Kelvingrove Botanic Gardens and I always think of it as a somewhat exotic import from Australia. But it can be grown outside in milder parts of Scotland - such Culzean, on the coast in the south-west of the country where even date palms can survive. Callistemon species are commonly referred to as bottlebrushes because of their cylindrical, brush like flowers resembling a traditional bottle brush. The obvious parts of the flower masses are stamens, with the pollen at the tip of the filament and the petals are inconspicuous. They have been grown in Europe since a specimen of C. citrinus was introduced to Kew Gardens in London by Joseph Banks in 1789.

Inula is a large family of flowering plants that are native to Europe, Asia and Africa. Cultivation goes back to antiquity and the name Inula was used by the Romans. They can grow quite tall - up to ten feet - so are most often seen in large gardens such at Culzean.

Onopordum a type of thistle which originated in Europe (mainly the Mediterranean region), northern Africa, the Canary Islands, the Caucasus, and southwest and central Asia. They are usually biennials, growing up to nearly ten feet tall. In the first season they form gray-green felted leaves and rarely a few flower heads. In the second season they grow rapidly to their final height, flowering extensively, and then die off after producing the seeds which restart the biennial process the following year.

These red Astilbe can also be seen in the picture at the start of this section on Culzean, showing above the castellated terrace overlooking the Fountain Court. They have been growing there for many years and are a mixture of red and pink varieties.

These delicate pink spikes of the sidalcea plant are shown off at their best against the clear blue sky behind. Sidalcea is also known as checkerblooms or checkermallows, or prairie mallows. They can be annuals or perennials and are native to West and Central North America. The flowers can be in shades of pink, white or purple.

Astrantia is a family of herbaceous plants originating in Central, Eastern and Southern Europe and the Caucasus. The name comes from the Greek word for star in reference to the star-like quality of the flower heads. Astrantia has many common garden names including melancholy gentleman, masterwort and Hattie's pincushion. Their unusual pincushion flower heads provide summer colour in shades of red, pink and white - astrantia rubra is a particularly attractive dark red.

Dierama is a flowering plants in the iris family. Common names include harebells, fairybells, and wandflowers in English and grasklokkies in Afrikaans. They are native to Africa, mainly in the southern regions of the continent. The thin, wiry, branching stem may bend and droop when in flower. The flower spikes may hang like bells or grow erect. Its name is derived from the Greek word dierama, meaning "funnel", and alludes to the shape of the flower.

Kniphofia is also called tritoma, red hot poker, torch lily, knofflers or poker plant as the flowers spikes are usually red. "Yellow hot poker" doesn't quite have the same resonance! The flowers produce copious nectar while blooming and are attractive to bees and, in the New World, they may attract hummingbirds.

The walled garden at Culzean has a large bed of many different varieties of Paeonia. Their large, often fragrant, flowers, range from red to white or yellow, and the blooms are at their best in late spring and early summer.

Loch Lomond Shores

Loch Lomond Shores is situated at Balloch on the southern-most bay of the loch using reclaimed land with a natural lagoon and features a complex designed to blend in within the surrounding woodland. There's a main visitor centre, shopping mall, bars and restaurants, an outdoor children's adventure playground, picnic area and pebble beach. The idea behind a visitor centre here is not exactly new. The potential for such an attraction was mooted as far back as 1948 to provide a hub for the millions of people who visit the area each year - estimates vary but are thought to be over 5 million a year who drive up the loch to admire the stunning beauty of the scenery, perhaps on a day out from Glasgow or visitors on holiday travelling north to the Highlands.

The large building on the left is "Drumkinnon Tower" which currently houses an extensive aquarium and has a cafe on the top floor with views up Loch Lomond to Ben Lomond and beyond. The low buildings have retail outlets with clothing, shoes and a Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) shop and a branch of the up-market Edinburgh store Jenners. There is also VisitScotland office providing information about tourist attractions not only in the local Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park but further afield as well.

The "Sealife" aquarium not only displays native species (including otters) but also has tanks showing off sea creatures from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, ranging from tiny sea horses to massive sharks and rays, jelly fish, octopus and turtles. Feeding time for the otters and other residents are scheduled at set times and there's always a crowd of eager visitors to enjoy the fun! Sealife has an active breeding programme and has successes with seahorses and rays in particular. The staff in the aquarium are always on hand to talk knowledgeably about the aquarium residents and entertain the younger visitors.

Drumkinnon Tower is seven storeys high and incorporates elements of design from Scottish castles including narrow windows (for archers to fire arrows at attackers). There is a circular ramp on the periphery of the building offering ever changing views of Loch Lomond and the surrounding countryside.

I spotted this bird looking like a cross between a goose and a turkey not far from the shore. it was trying to make friends with a family of swans who were not amused and chased it away. Apparently cross breeding between geese and turkeys in farmyards is not uncommon.

Ardardan and Geilston

Ardardan Farm Estate Tearoom is one of our favourite stopping-off places for afternoon tea, especially when combined with a visit to the National Trust's garden at Geilston House a short distance away. Their dolphin fountain is impressive - and don't overlook the frog looking out from the water at the foot of the picture!

Earlier in this Photo Diary there was a reference to "Mophead" hydrangeas - here is the other type, the lacecap flowers with their round, flat flower heads with a centre core of subdued, fertile flowers surrounded by outer rings of showy, sterile flowers. This has to be one of the brightest pink hydrangea ever produced!

These miniature dahlias and other flowers were on sale in the garden centre which has expanded over the years at Ardardan. The farm shop has also grown bigger and has a wide range of produce - I can never resist buying the fresh eggs on sale there and on this occasion also succumbed to a large Selkirk Bannock full of raisins and sultanas!

These richly coloured sweet peas appear every year at Geilston. The Garden was originally developed more than two hundred years ago, combining several features (traditional walled garden, kitchen garden, wooded area with the Geilston Burn wending its way through the estate towards the Clyde in Cardross) and was taken over by the National Trust for Scotland in 2001.

If I ever create a section on the Rampant Scotland with the title "Guess What This Is"? I'm sure this graphic will be first in line. Keen gardeners may recognise it as a Courgette plant (known as Zucchini in some parts of the world). It was growing in the large vegetable garden at Geilston. When the house and garden was privately owned, growing vegetables for the household would have been an important element of the estate.

This flower could probably also have pride of place in that "Guess What This Is"? section, if it ever gets created. Luckily, the gardeners at Geilston must have known that it would cause visitors to be puzzled and they helpfully put its name tag beside it - "Venidium Zulu Warrior". Even so, none of my gardening books listed this plant and even the entry on Wikipedia was somewhat sparse. Like Gazania, it originated in South Africa.

Despite its origins in the hot climate of South Africa it seemed to have survived well in the somewhat chillier climate of Scotland at Geilston. I'll be looking out for this unusual and very colourful variety at the local garden centres next year when I am buying annual bedding plants for my own garden!

My Own Garden

Although the number of butterflies spotted so far this year have been on the low side it's always a delight when they do arrive in my own garden. This is a small tortoiseshell enjoying the nectar of a perennial wallflower. This plant has flowered nonstop since last spring, slowly producing new flowers at the top of the stems throughout that time.

Although Gazania only opens up when the sun is shining, the bright, attractive colours are too good to ignore when I'm choosing annual bedding plants. It was first formally described by a German botanist who named it after Theodorus Gaza, a 15th-century translator of the works of Theophrastus.

If you want to read the other Diary entries going back to 2009, there is an Index page.

Where else would you like to go in Scotland?

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