Scottie's Monthly Photo Diary

- June 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 June 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!

Culzean Castle Country Park

Peonies are native to Asia, Southern Europe and Western North America. Estimates of the number of species range from 25 to 40. Peony is named after Paeon, a student of Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine and healing.

Sweet William is a species of Dianthus native to southern Europe and parts of Asia which has become a popular ornamental garden plant. Seen in profusion like this in a border of the walled garden at Culzean it is easy to see why it is a favourite of garden designers.

The profusion of bright colours of Sweet William almost makes the Canterbury Bells beyond look dull by comparison! "Sweet William" is often said to honour the 18th century Prince William, Duke of Cumberland. As a result of the Duke's victory at the Battle of Culloden and his brutal treatment of the Jacobites, it is also claimed that the Scots sometimes call the flower "Stinking Billy". Though this makes a nice story, it is entirely untrue - but that doesn't stop some Scottish gardeners refusing to plant it! But the facts show that Scots sometimes refer to the noxious ragwort, not Dianthus barbatus, as "Stinking Billy" in memory of the infamous Duke. Also, the English botanist John Gerard referred to Dianthus barbatus as "Sweet Williams" in his garden catalogue of 1596, 150 years before Culloden. Phillips speculated that the flower was actually named after Gerard's contemporary, William Shakespeare.

Colours of Sweet William range from white, pink, red, and purple or with variegated patterns. The plant was introduced to northern Europe in the 16th century, and later to North America and elsewhere.

Centranthus ruber, also called valerian or red valerian, is a popular garden plant grown for its ornamental flowers. Other common names include Jupiter's beard and spur valerian. While the ones here will have been deliberately grown by the gardeners at Culzean, Valerian has the ability to spread its seeds widely and they can pop up in all sorts of locations - including the tops of ruined castle walls! Campanula is one of several genera in the family Campanulaceae with the common name bellflower. It takes both its common and its scientific name from its bell-shaped flowers — campanula is Latin for "little bell". There are over 500 species and several subspecies of Campanula, ranging widely in size and colour.

Valerian is a perennial flowering plant, with heads of sweetly scented pink or white flowers that bloom in the summer months. Valerian flower extracts were used as a perfume in the sixteenth century.

Greenbank Garden

This Georgian house was built in 1763 by a Glasgow merchant Robert Allason. Allason was a local man who began life as a baker, before setting up with his brothers in Port Glasgow as a trader. He made his fortune trading with Britain's American colonies, eventually becoming a land-holder in the Caribbean. The house is situated about six miles from the centre of Glasgow and has sixteen rooms, and also barns, stables and a 2.5-acre (10,000 m2) walled garden. The "windows" in the walls curving round the courtyard are actually false - painted to give the impression that the house is much bigger than it really is! In 1976, the house, walled garden, and the estate were gifted to the National Trust for Scotland. The garden and wooded area surrounding it are open to the public and the former stables have been converted into a visitor centre and tearoom. The National Trust uses the house as offices but two ground floor rooms and the conservatory are open to the public for two hours a week.

There is a small greenhouse in the garden where the gardeners grow cuttings and seedlings - and tomatoes. There are also a number of potted plants that need protection from Scottish summers. The collection includes a number of Streptocarpus such as this one.

Pelargonium is a genus of flowering plants which includes about 200 species of perennials, succulents, and shrubs, commonly known as geraniums (in the United States also as storksbills). Confusingly, Geranium is the correct botanical name of a separate genus of related plants often called cranesbills or hardy geraniums. The pelargonium shown here is named "Barbara Eldridge". Pelargonium are evergreen perennials indigenous to Southern Africa, and are drought and heat tolerant, but can cope with only minor frosts. As a result, they are usually grown as house plants or annuals in Scotland.

Here's another brightly coloured pelargonium in the greenhouse at Greenbank. Its label said that its name was "Mexican Tomcat" which seemed very descriptive!

Day Lily is the common name for plants of the genus Hemerocallis. These flowers are highly diverse in colour and form, as a result of hybridization efforts of gardening enthusiasts and professional horticulturalists. It's nice to know that I am not alone in enjoying these lovely flowers as thousands of registered cultivars are appreciated and studied by local and international Hemerocallis societies! The name Hemerocallis comes from the Greek words for "day" and "beautiful", alluding to the flowers which typically last no more than 24 hours. The flowers of most species open in early morning and wither during the following night, possibly replaced by another one on the same flower stalk the next day. Day Lilies are not commonly used as cut flowers but actually make good displays as new flowers continue to open on cut stems over several days.

This Poppy is not only an eye-catching colour but has the added interest of its fringed petals.

The gardeners at Greenbank have created a special display of Paeonia (peony) in one of the garden areas - it is effectively a "hedge" made up of a number of different Paeonia bushes. Since these plants die back in the winter, it is not really much of a hedge but at this time of year a solid line of flowering shrubs makes a great display. The plant and its roots have been used frequently in traditional medicines of Korea, China and Japan. Modern pharmacists have also obtained over 262 compounds from these plants, including flavonoids, steroids and phenols.

This peony looks just like a dish of raspberry ripple ice-cream!

Limnanthes douglasii is a species of annual flowering plant in the meadowfoam family and with its white flowers with yellow centres is commonly known as "poached egg plant" or Douglas' meadowfoam. It is native to California and Oregon, where it grows in wet, grassy habitat. The plant was collected by the Scottish explorer and botanist David Douglas, who worked on the west coast of America in the 1820s.

Polemonium, commonly called Jacob's ladder, is a genus of between 25 and 40 species of flowering plants in the family Polemoniaceae. They are mainly perennial plants, growing 4- 5 inches (10–12 cm) tall with bright green leaves divided into lance-shaped leaflets, and produce blue (rarely white or pink) flowers in the spring and summer.

Cosmos flowers with their large variety of bright colours are another of my favourite plants. It is native to scrub and meadowland in Mexico although they are also native to Florida and the southern United States, Arizona, Central America, and to South America in the north to Paraguay in the south. It is also widespread over the high eastern plains of South Africa, where it was introduced via contaminated horsefeed imported from Argentina during the Anglo-Boer War. As in Greenbank, they are often planted as a bed of differently coloured plants, producing a succession of blooms to delight the eye.

Clematis is a genus of about 300 species. The garden hybrids have been popular among gardeners, beginning with Clematis × jackmanii, a garden standby since 1862; more hybrid cultivars are being produced constantly. Some varieties are also known as "traveller's joy", or "virgin's bower" and "old man's beard", applied to several with prominent seedheads. The name clematis is from Ancient Greek clématis, ("a climbing plant").

Drumpellier Country Park and Hogganfield Park

Considering the financial constraints under which local authorities say they are working it was surprising that North Lanarkshire found the money to create this sculpture in the loch at Drumpellier. It is clearly appreciated by the local seagulls using it as a perch to keep an eye on any source of food nearby.

It's always great to see the way the birds born earlier in the year grow up so fast. Even though they won't be flying off to some far distant location to avoid the winter weather, these cygnets (little balls of fluff only a few weeks ago) will be almost as large as their parents by the end of summer. They will not have all their white feathers until next spring and their parents may continue to keep a watchful eye on them till then - but the young birds will no longer be welcome at that stage as the adults prepare for the next brood.

A few years ago, when I was setting up the Scottish Butterflies section on all 32 different species found regularly in Scotland I didn't have any graphics of my own for the Small Heath and had to use pictures from Wikimedia instead. Now I have my own pictures thanks to the ones taken in June at Drumpellier. Like many of the pictures in this Photo Diary, it was taken using the camera on my mobile phone - although it does not have a powerful zoom capability it takes excellent pictures helped by an f2 lens, anti-shake focus and vibrant colours (and it's always handy in my shirt pocket!)

As a result of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow (they start on 23 July), Glasgow City Council has been improving many aspects of the city, especially in the eastern areas where the games will be concentrated. That has included the parks department adding features to Hogganfield Park such as a trellis with flowers such as clematis and this honeysuckle.

My Own Garden

Osteospermum one of the smaller "tribes" of the sunflower/daisy family Asteraceae. It has been given several common names: African daisy, South African daisy, Cape daisy and blue-eyed daisy. The scientific name is derived from the Greek osteon (bone) and Latin spermum (seed). Osteospermum are popular in summer bedding schemes in gardens. They prefer a warm and sunny position and rich soil, although they tolerate poor soil, salt or drought. Modern varieties flower continuously when watered and fertilised well.

Lysimachia is a perenial which grows vigorously and can spread out unless controlled. They tend to grow in damp conditions (ideal for Scottish climate then!). Several species within Lysimachia are commonly called loosestrife, although this name is also used for plants within the genus Lythrum. It is named in honour of Lysimachus, a king of ancient Sicily, who is said to have calmed a mad ox by feeding it with the plant.

Hypericum is found worldwide, missing only from tropical lowlands, deserts and polar regions. It is also known as St. John's wort or Rose of Sharon. This particular variety has small flowers but makes up for that with these colourful berries.

Dorotheanthus bellidiformis (Livingstone daisy) is a species of flowering plant native to the Cape Peninsula in South Africa, where it is known as Bokbaaivygie. It is a low-growing succulent annual growing to 25 cm (10 in), and much cultivated for its iridescent, many-petalled, daisy-like blooms in shades of white, yellow, orange, cream, pink and crimson. It is one of a number of plants where the blooms close up when the sun is not shining. It is still widely known and sold under its former name, Mesembryanthemum criniflorum.

Digitalis is a family of about 20 species of herbaceous perennials, shrubs, and biennials commonly called foxgloves. The scientific name means "finger-like" and refers to the ease with which a flower of Digitalis purpurea can be fitted over a human fingertip - though if you try that make sure there isn't a bee in the flower first!) It is a biennial - the first year of growth of the common foxglove produces only the stem with its long, basal leaves. During the second year of the plant's life, a long, leafy stem from 50 to 255 centimetres (20 - 100 inches) tall grows atop the roots of healthy plants. The term digitalis is also used for drug preparations that contain cardiac glycosides, particularly one called digoxin, extracted from various plants of this genus.

I bought this dwarf clematis last year and planted it in an earthenware pot hoping it would survive there. Last winter was relatively mild and the plant has produced a large number of flowers this year, spilling over from the container. I've kept it well watered during recent warm dry spells and it has responded with plenty of large blooms.

Antirrhinum are usually regarded as annual bedding plants but last year when I was doing the usual autumn clearing up they looked so vigorous I decided to leave them where they were over the winter. Although they have become rather tall and leggy, they have rewarded me with another flush of colourful flowers such as this yellow one.

Diascia is a herbaceous annual and perennial flowering plant which is native to southern Africa, including South Africa, Lesotho and neighbouring areas. Their common name is twinspur, in reference to the two (usually downward-pointing) spurs to be found on the back of the flower. This one has flowered particularly well this year, so much so that we have planted more in other parts of the garden!

I thought I would "keep the best for last"! This Gazania is a native to Southern Africa which produces large, daisy-like composite flowers in brilliant shades of yellow, red and orange, over a long period in summer. In spring I bought a tray of four different Gazanias and have not been disappointed with the colourful display. They are in a sunny location and do need to be kept well watered but keep producing a succession of brilliantly coloured flowers.

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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