Tribute to famous botanists

A LIVING, growing tribute to Forfar’s famous botanists is about to be established in what promises to be a major attraction for the town.

And what will begin as an initial commemorative garden on a current eyesore site in the Myre has the potential to grow in to a number of projects, including a facility for children at the Ranger Centre at the Lochside Leisure Centre.

The project has brought together a number of gardening enthusiasts, as well as Angus Councillors and members of Forfar and District Historical Society.

The initial garden will also have input from Phil Bolt of Plant Heritage, as well as plant experts Alan Elliot and Ian Christie.

The project has brought together two idea - one raised by Angus Councillors Glennis Middleton and Lynne Devine, and the other from Forfar gardening enthusiast Mrs Eleanor Gledhill, president of the Forfar and District Garden Club.

The councillors were looking for a project to tidy up an eyesore site next to the Myre car park, whilst Eleanor had been working on a plan to create some form of memorial garden to Forfar botanists George Don, his sons George and David and James and Thomas Drummond at a site at the Lochside Leisure Centre.

Following a meeting of interested parties earlier this month the idea, like an acorn, has grown into an exciting project which will put Forfar, and the town’s famous botanists, on the world map.

Unveiling the plans at this month’s meeting of Forfar Community Council, Councillor Middleton spoke of the enthusiasm and the willingness of all parties involved to work together to get the project off the ground.

She said: “I am very hopeful that something very special is about to take place in Forfar. Councillor Devine and I had been looking at getting something done with the piece of ground at The Myre, which is a sight, Coincidentally, a group of local gardeners had been speaking about creating some form of memorial to George Don and the Drummond Brothers which will clearly put Forfar on the horticultural map.

“These are world famous botanists and the group, calling itself the Friends of Forfar Botanists, is willing to create a memorial garden with plants, historical sign posts, an interactive educational experience at the Lochside Leisure Centre and signs pointing visitors to the old kirkyard at the East and Old where George Don is buried.”

2014 will be the 200th anniversary of the death of George Don and the 250th anniversary of his birth.

Councillor Middleton continued: “This will be something really special and unique for Forfar. We would also hope to have an exhibition in the Meffan to commemorate the 250th anniversary of George Don’s birth. There is a small exhibition in the Meffan at the moment, featuring the small container he used to collect plants up in the Angus glens. It is so nice to have people who are so enthusiastic in a project. The Royal Horticultural Society has been very supportive. The project is in the very early stages but the people involved are so enthusiastic they have to be commended.”

The group involved has now formed a committee which comprises chairman, Eleanor Gledhill, president of Forfar and District Garden Club; vice-chairman, Alice Bremner, Dun Gardener of National Trust for Scotland Angus Members Centre; secretary, Aileen Elliot, president of Forfar and District Historical Society; treasurer, Elizabeth Meikle, treasurer Forfar and District Garden Club; Ian Christie - past president of the Scottish Rock Garden Club and Philip Bolt, representative of Plant Heritage.

Eleanor spoke of the legacy left by George Don, his two sons and the Drummond brothers,

She gave a fascinating insight into the days when George Don would leave his market garden, which is now the Tesco store adjacent to Don Street (named after the botanist), to walk into the glens of Angus to collect plants.

She said her interest in creating a lasting memorial to the work of George Don, as well as Inverarity born brothers James Drummmond and Thomas Drummond, followed a chance remark about a tree - the acer plantanoides Drummondii - which she has in her garden.

She said: “After that I wanted to have some of the trees planted at a site overlooking Forfar Loch. I spoke to the Plant Heritage people and they got Norman Atkinson, senior service manager with Angus Council to give a talk at the garden club. We now hope to have the garden at the Myre, the interactive facilities at the Ranger Service and something up Clova - this is truly an inspirationl project.”