Photographer's Note

This is Dawyck House, a magnificent private mansion, which nestles within the lovely Dawyck Botanic Garden near Stobo in the Scottish Borders.

The garden, which is open to the public for all but the winter months, was given to the nation in 1978 by the Balfour family and now comprises part of the Royal Botanic Gardens of Edinburgh. The surrounding estate, Dawyck House, and the chapel within in the garden all remain private property. The story of the garden began over three centuries earlier, however, with the Veitch family who owned the estate from 1491 to 1691.

When they first moved here from Jedburgh, the Veitch's home was described as a "lonely mansion in the bosom of a gloomy mountain". They planted trees as windbreaks to make their home and estate more habitable and welcoming, and in 1650 they introduced Scotland's first exotic tree, a horse chestnut native to eastern Europe.

But it was after the Naesmyth family took over the estate in 1691 that things really started to take off in earnest. Sir James Naesmyth, 2nd Baronet of Dawyck and Posso (1704-1779), trained as a botanist under Carl Linnaeus and did much to turn the garden into an arboretum. His grandson, Sir John Murray Naesmyth (1803-1876) went even further, planting a total of 2000 acres of mixed woodland. It was Sir John who recognised that a beech growing at Dawyck was actually a distinct species, since known as the Dawyck beech. Sir John was also responsible for commissioning the architect William Burn to build the present Dawyck House after its predecessor was destroyed by fire in 1830.

The estate was purchased by Mrs Alexander Balfour in 1897. Her son, Fred Balfour, travelled widely and sponsored many plant collectors to send back trees from, in particular, North America and Asia. He also planted hundreds of rhododendrons and millions of daffodils beneath the trees. He left the estate to his son, Colonel A.N. Balfour, in 1945, who in turn gave it to the nation in 1978.

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Additional Photos by John Cannon (tyro) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1811 W: 411 N: 6535] (26470)
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