My Life in Plants
The first plants I ever grew
I grew lots of small seedling trees when I was younger, as I was very interested in bonsai. I collected seeds on my travels and marvelled at the way they grew. I managed to shape some amazing bonsai, my best being a yew, Taxus baccata. I think from an early age my destiny lay in working with trees!
The plant that shaped the gardener I am today
As part of my horticultural journey I spent my younger days working in garden centres and grew particularly fond of berberis. While probably not an obvious choice, I was amazed by the massive variation of different species. I came across these plants many times during my career and always felt they were underappreciated in terms of their beauty.
My favourite plant in the world
It has to be the wellingtonia or giant redwood, which captured my imagination since I first saw it. I remember thinking as a wee boy how marvellous this huge thing was, and so grand in its stature. I was amazed to learn it evolved its soft bark as a defence strategy, enabling the tree to withstand forest fires.
The plant that’s made me work the hardest
My biggest challenge was originally introduced as an ornamental and decorative, game cover. Salmonberry, Rubus spectabilis, has been the stuff of nightmares with its pernicious, thicket-forming habit presenting the most incredible challenges. Introduced in the mid-19th century, this unassuming plant quickly became a worthy contender for the ‘bad idea’ prize!
The plant I would like to grow more
I’ve dabbled in growing fruit and veg, but having moved house a few times I felt I lost momentum progressing my interest in them. My vision over the next few years is to get a greenhouse and customise my latest garden to cater for all my gardening interests. I feel growing my own fruit and veg will be very rewarding, and I like the self-sufficiency aspect of it.
Plant I am in human form
While not quite the stature of the giant redwood, I’d say I’m a steady peddler, fully versatile and able to deal with all scenarios. I’m definitely like a rowan or sorbus, which, much like myself, is able to multitask beautifully within its environment.
The plant that helped to shape my life
From an early age I loved the wonderful scent of geraniums. I’m particularly fond of the indoor lemon-scented versions and have vivid memories of the ones that my dear old gran used to have.
The plant I would always give away as a gift
I would tend to give a tree as a gift if I could, something a wee bit unusual. It would have to be a tree suited to the person concerned, their garden, available space and climate. It may provide added interest, such as ‘wow’ autumn colour, maybe a Chinese rowan, Sorbus commixta, or fantastic scent, such as the candy floss tree, Cercidiphyllum japonicum.
Growing trees from seed enthralled young Graham Occupation: Horticulture Curator at Dawyck Botanic Garden, a 65-acre woodland garden, near Peebles, in the Scottish Borders. Dawyck is home to some of Britain’s oldest and tallest trees. Gardening type: Fully prepared for all the various challenges nature can impose! Graham has devoted his life to caring for trees Graham Stewart