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    December 2021
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    Azaleas and Rhododendrons: A Colourful Journey in the beautiful gardens of Scotland with Kenneth Cox!

    Scotland For Gardeners - Kenneth Cox

    Hidden walled gardens of enormous size or strange shape, swaying semi-tropical plants on windy seasides, ferry journeys to secret plant paradises, packed woodlands of towering Himalayan treasures, sculptured stones carved with arcane riddles, vast expanses of aristocratic estates and small town gardens filled with tiny alpine treasures. These are just a few examples of the surprises and delights in store for those who take the time to explore the gardens of Scotland. My native land’s extraordinary diversity of garden and plant riches is what inspired me to embark on this book.

    (Scotland for Gardeners Kenneth Cox 2009 Introduction)

    Among my numerous birthday presents I was quite delighted to discover this very beautiful book about Scottish gardens. How well do my children know their Mum ! Always a little Scottish present, chosen and packed with love!

    And imagine my surprise when, on opening my 2009 Wigtown Book Festival programme, I discovered that Kenneth Cox, the author of Scotland for Gardeners, would be present at the Festival on Sunday 4th October at the Stena Line Marquee. Another event to add to Scotiana’s virtual itinerary! Don’t miss this “rendez-vous” with the great Scottish gardener if you happen to be in the neighbourhood. Kenneth Cox, who is not only a famous gardener but also a traveller and an adventurer in his quest for rare plants and foreign gardens seems to be of the kind to colour your day and make you dream of green paradises even if you don’t like gardening! The Wigtown Book Festival brochure describes him as “A hunter of rare plants, nurseryman and adviser to the National Trust… an eloquent and entertaining speaker about all things green-fingered” and that prompted me to learn more about him.

    Kenneth Cox is grandson of planthunter, writer and nurseryman Euan Cox and son of Peter Cox VMH (Victoria Medal of Honour). These three were and are considered the world’s leading experts on rhododendrons. Cox and his brother, photographer Ray Cox, spent two years visiting over 200 gardens, and features descriptions of virtually all of Scotland’s public gardens, recommending when to visit and what to look out for. Famous for his discovery of new species of rhododendron, Cox has led many plant-hunting expeditions to unexplored parts of Tibet and India. Himself a nurseryman, Kenneth is managing director of the family firm Glendoick Gardens Ltd near Perth and author of numerous books, including :

    Kenneth Cox Gardening Books

    The reading of Scotland Gardens and still better the meeting with its author would certainly make you feel like visiting or re-visiting the marvellous gardens which are colouring the seasons all over the country. I could not have imagined that there were so many different species of rhododendrons and azaleas ( about 4,000) before getting acquainted with Kenneth Cox writings.

    2000 2000

    2002 2000

    Our first journey to Scotland took place in spring and when we found ourselves driving in a yellow and mauve ocean, amidst a jungle of bright broom and wild rhododendrons we could not believe our eyes.

    Rhododendrons Bute Scotiana 2oo4

    Bute 2oo4

    Then began our visits of the parks and gardens. Nowhere else had we seen such a luxuriance of flowers, such bright colours, such gigantic trees. It was like walking in the Garden of Eden! I remember being more than once the last one to get out of these paradises and keepers waiting for me to shut the gates.

    Rhododendrons Etang Scotiana 2000 2000

    Each journey to Scotland brought new impressions and more magic following the seasons : always more rhododendrons and azaleas in the parks, with here and there some rare flowers like blue poppies, carpets of bluebells in the forests or in the hills and moorland endless stretches of purple heather. 2004

    With Kenneth Cox’s new book, I’m sure we’ll get a deeper sense of place in the Garden of Scotland. How we long to go back there!

    And now, to end with a flourish, what about a little bench of flowers? We’ve found in Scotiana’s library a little treasure to share with you: a lovely and beautifully illustrated short story about the art of growing flowers.


    On the twentieth of February, in the year nineteen-eleven, Lord Northcliffe’s halfpenny newspaper, the Daily Mail, announced a new competition.

    A prize, the paper stated, of one thousand pounds would be offered for the best bunch of sweet peas grown by an amateur gardener anywhere in the British Isles.


    A prize, the paper stated, of one thousand pounds would be offered for the best bunch of sweet peas grown by an amateur gardener anywhere in the British Isles.

    Now that he had a garden of his own, Mr Fraser found that he not only liked gardening but that he had a gift for it. He began learning from Alec White, and whenever he had time to spare from the various duties of the parish, he would cross the grassy lawn in front of the house and go down into the old walled garden beyond, to weed and dig, prune and stake and tie, and also, of course, when the warm weather came, to cut.


    Good gardening! A bientôt!

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