Argyll botanic garden creates Silent Spaces


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Long appreciated as a place to unwind and feel closer to the natural world, Benmore Botanic Garden in Argyll has been receiving extra recognition since registering as Scotland’s first Silent Space.

However, with 120 acres, there is more than enough room for a vibrant line-up of activities this summer.

Benmore created two quiet areas in response to a call from the not-for-profit project Silent Space, which had already signed up a number of gardens south of the border to reserve an area where people could be quiet. For a couple of hours each week, visitors to these areas were invited to switch off their phones and to stop talking.

The garden’s curator, Peter Baxter, explained: ‘With the other three gardens of Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE), we are committed to providing experiences that are beneficial to wellbeing, so when we heard about the project, we created two Silent Spaces at Benmore.

‘One is situated in a secluded spot on the hillside, amid a collection of rhododendrons, and has magnificent views across the garden and Strath Eachaig to the mountains in the east. The other is in the tranquil Golden Gates Arboretum among statuesque conifers and majestic giant redwoods.

‘We have received some incredibly positive feedback from visitors.’

Quiet observation is also recommended to catch the antics of the garden’s red squirrels. Much to the delight of visitors, the past couple of months have witnessed unsurpassed activity around the squirrel hide. Look out too for birds such as bullfinches, woodpecker and nuthatch.

Calling in to the Courtyard Gallery, from July 5 to August 26, reveals the delights of Flora Scotia. In this exhibition, botanical artists showcase Scottish native plants in a major new international initiative involving more than 25 countries. Entry is included with garden admission.

Tickets are also selling for a one-night-only performance in the Courtyard by leading jazz trumpeter Lorne Cowieson. A member of the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, Lorne also plays widely with other top artists such as Emeli Sande, Konrad Wiszniewski, Brian Kellock and Stefan Maus.

Originally from Dunoon, on Saturday, September 1, Lorne heads back to home territory to perform with guest musicians  in the Courtyard.

Jazz at the Courtyard is a fundraising event organised by Friends of Benmore in support of the garden’s research and conservation work. Booking is essential and tickets at £10 are available from Sybil Gray on 01369 706261 or email

Later in September, on Saturday 22, join RBGE research associate mycologist Dr Stephan Helfer for a fungal foray. Benmore is a haven for interesting fungi. Meet at the covered notice board near the café at 2pm.

And from now until the end of October, take your camera out and about – wherever you are – and send the results for entry in a prestigious new photography competition.

Entries are being sought for the Friends of RBGE photography competition 2018. With a top prize of £1,000 and category wins of £250, the competition is being supported by Brewin Dolphin, Bonaccord and Jessops. Its aim is to attract amateur and professional photographers whether or not they already know RBGE and its work.

All shortlisted entries will appear in an exhibition at RBGE’s Edinburgh site in early 2019 and there will be opportunities for winning entries to be part of RBGE’s 350th anniversary year calendar in 2020 as well as  images being transferred into canvasses by Jessops. Go to on/photocomp