Scottish Plant Hunter's Garden

Scottish Plant Hunters' Garden, Pitlochry
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Scottish Plant Hunters' Garden, Pitlochry

An initiative of the Pitlochry Festival Theatre, in conjunction with the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, the Scottish Plant Hunter's Garden is located next to the theatre on the hillside above Port-na-Craig and the Faskally dam. The 2.6-ha (6.5-acre) garden opened in 2003. Originally intended as a Highland Botanic Garden, celebrating native flora, the concept evolved to focus on exotic species introduced from elsewhere, the plant-hunters who travelled the globe to find them and the botanists who classified them. The garden is set amongst mature woodland and weaves together innovative planting with specially-commissioned artworks, taking the visitor through a sequence of areas representing the continents. Panoramic views over Pitlochry towards Ben Vrackie feature at various points and the large drifts of plants are intended to provide interest throughout the season.

The stories of eighteen of the more famous plant-collectors feature on interpretation boards around the garden, but the species of many more are represented, some funded by Perthshire landowners to find new specimens to decorate the parkland around their homes.

The garden contains five large structures: the entrance, designed by a set designer from the theatre and based around a compass, representing the world explored by the plant-hunters; an eighty-seat amphitheatre; the David Douglas Pavilion a sweeping building constructed in-part in Douglas Fir, which provides a exhibition space; the George Forrest Pavilion constructed in the oriental style from renewable timber, and Moongate, an archway in dry-stone. Light and music are used to add to the dramatic effect.

Built with the aid of the European Regional Development Fund, commerce and charities, the garden is owned and operated by the Pitlochry Festival Society as an educational charity, with profits reinvested into the garden to extend the planting. Maintenance is minimised by encouraging self-seeding and naturalisation.

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