THE CHAIRMAN of The Friends of Forfar Botanists could not contain her enthusiasm on Wednesday as the diggers moved in to clear the site for a fitting tribute to the work of five pioneering botanists who hail from the town.
Eleanor Gledhill rallied the troops for a photocall to culminate months of talks and negotiations to finally get the project off the ground. She was joined by fellow committee members Aileen Elliott, Alice Bremner and Ian Christie, Angus councillors Glennis Middleton and Lynne Devine who have supported the project from the outset, as well as local business-men and women who have offered financial support and services.
Also present was Ray Madden, chairman of the Angus Environmental Trust, Norman Atkinson of Angus Council’s cultural services and artist David F. Wilson who is now working on site.
Incredibly, to date, no lasting memorial has been created to acknowledge the work of the famous five who paved the way for plant study through the generations.
George Don senior created his own botanic garden in the town which attracted fellow botanists from all over Britain to see his collection of plants. His eldest son, also George, travelled to Africa and South America to collect plants while David Don, the second eldest son, wrote the first catalogue of plants species from the Himalayas and many other botanical works. The legacy left by the Drummond brothers, Thomas and James, both plant hunters and famous botanists, is also being commemorated in the garden
As the diggers moved on site, Eleanor commented: “Now is the time to get down and get dirty and start planting up the garden. I have to say a huge thank-you to the hard-working committee who have got this off the ground, and for the local business community who have come forward to offer us their support. We now need to get on and get the garden planted up to ensure locals and visitors alike can enjoy the plants this year.”
In charge of the planting is local expert Ian Christie who said: “Apart from a small plaque in Don Street there is nothing to recognise the great work done by these Forfar botanists. I am delighted to be able to give something back and to mark their incredibly valuable contribution.”
Ray Madden of the Angus Environmental Trust also praised the work of Eleanor and her committee and added the Trust had made an award of £55,000 from the Landfill Communities Fund,
He said: “We have funded a number of projects over the years. Part of our role is to support community projects and this is the first one to commemorate the Forfar botanists. Credit has to go to the hard-working committee for all the work they have done in getting to this stage. We are delighted to fund it.”
The tale of the Forfar Botanists is an inspirational one. Their love of plants and dedication took them to the far corners of the world and the heady heights of academia. The garden will provide a physical memorial to their work and provide a lasting legacy that will tell their story to locals and visitors through planting and interpretation.
David F. Wilson will construct the walling for the garden and will design and make a sculptural centre-piece.