Flora & Agriculture
Flora & Fauna
In looking at this fantastic collection of colour and beauty, a short preamble is called for, and should act as a spur for those interested in Botany. It should be stated at this point, that many of these flowers, bushes and shrubs were not grown until as late as the 20th century. Only the great estate owners had land to grow and develop gardens. The reasons the local people did not follow suit were several fold.
They did not have the land, they preferred growing potatoes or turnips or carrots which they could eat, and they did not have any disposable income or money for this activity, and their energies were in survival rather than esthetics! As one of my late departed Canadian friends, whose ancestral family left Blairnroar in Strathearn in 1829 for a new life in Ontario, said, “Aye, weil, ye cannae eat flowers!” So, to continue!
Along with the departing ice, seeds and seedlings were deposited by wind carriage into different areas throughout Highland Strathearn. In time they grew into plants, flowers, bushes, shrubs, and general foliage. It is difficult to estimate and define all of them and certainly it lies outside the purview of this book, but it is figured there are between 1500 and 2000 varieties of vegetation. Most are native to the area, but nowadays some have been imported from faraway places.
Today Highland Strathearn is rich in that its canvas of colours changes with the seasons and each season brings a unique splendour. In many cases there may be up to 300 varieties of flowering plants and the following is a sprinkling of them. In the spring to summer season we see the following:
Crocus - Crocus
Winter Aconites-eranthis hyemalis- the flower is yellow in colour-they are part of the buttercup family
Daffodils–narcissus – there are several varieties including white and yellow colouring
Bluebells-hyacinthoides non-scriptus – in Scotland the non-related Bluebell has the Latin name of campanula rotundifolia (Harebell)
Clematis–clematis – Spiraea-spiraeoideae - there are about 200 different types of clematis
Sweet William or Stinking Billy–magnoliapsida
Marsh Marigolds–caltha palustris
Forsythia–oleraceae - this beautiful flower was named after the Scots botanist, William Forsyth. It presents a dazzling display in the spring to summer months
In the summer to autumn season our colours and hues change yet again and we see some of the following in their full blossoming glory.
Fuschias–fuschia - there are about 100 types
Roses–rosa – there are dozens of types of roses of varying colours and hues
These were originally grown in China and later in Japan where it was adopted by the Emperor as his official seal - it was introduced in Strathearn probably in the latter part of the 18th century,
Begonias are native to South America and Hawaii
This beautiful purple colour of the velvety and deadly – foxglove is very poisonous
Two well known flowers were imported only in relatively recent history from Japan and China
Hydrangea–hydrangea macrophylla (Japan)
Rhododendron– ericaceae, Azaleas–ericaceae (China)
As children we made daisy chains by intertwining their stems and used to put them under the chins of friends, especially girl friends. They reflect a beautiful yellow glow. The brighter the glow the greater the love the other person had for you! Small, but mighty!
Sweet Peas–lathyrus odoratus
Dahlias - there are 19 varieties
During the season the thistle–Onopordum acanthium is to be seen in all its splendour. It is Scotland’s national flower. It should always be treated with respect and never stood or sat upon! The Danes found this out to their cost when they tried a surprise attack on Largs during the reign of Alexander the Third, in 1263! It was said that they had removed their sandals to achieve surprise by creeping up on the sleeping Scottish soldiers. One of them, or possibly more, stood on a number of thistles which had grown naturally in the fields. Yelling with pain they lost the element of surprise and the Scots rallied. The Danes lost the battle and ceded all tracts of Scottish lands which they had unlawfully secured through conquest.
There are also numerous hedges such as;
All add joy to our lives as does a field of clover.
Ivy Seeds (Always however, beware of Poisonous Ivy!)
Whin or Common Gorse–Ulex europaeus with its brilliant striking yellow colouring, supplemented with Broom-cytisus scoparius makes for both delight and enchantment.
Whin or Common Gorse–Ulex europaeus
In the autumn again the scene changes reflecting the glory and the beauty of the purple
Heather–calluna vulgaris-ericaceae - set against a slowly setting sun provides a brilliant effect. One thought that all was well with the world and one could evidence the full force of colourful nature - certainly here!
All can add other numerous flowers and plants to our play ground providing a place of dazzle and colour with the ever changing seasons. Our garden can be added to, and we hope that readers will contact the author with more natural beauties, to be included in later editions. In addition, there are numerous flowering shrubs, bushes, and differing types of fern
Some colourful, but unwanted weeds, also join our throng
A nettle will sting you if you brush against it, but it won’t if you grasp it firmly and quickly, hence the phrase “Grasp the nettle” In some areas people make wine from it!
The Dock leaf is the immediate antidote for a nettle sting. After rubbing it over the stung area the sting will disappear.
Note: Always wear gloves when gardening. Some flowers and shrubs contain poisons and include Poison Ivy and Poison Oak, Green Tattie Apples, Foxglove, Laburnum and Snowberries.
Furthermore it is not de rigeur to have red and white flowers in a hospital or at home. They connote blood and bandages! And I have no idea where that one came from!