"Britain’s most magnificent avenue" celebrated its 150th anniversary in style last weekend when 1,500 members of the public joined children with lanterns, giant puppets and an aerialist to mark Benmore Botanic Garden’s 50m high giant redwoods (Sequoiadendron giganteum).
The man credited with first introducing Sequoiadendron giganteum to Britain is the Scot, Patrick Matthew (1790-1874).
With three of his sons involved in the Gold Rush, Matthew took advantage of the situation and requested seeds be sent home by steam packet, thereby narrowly stealing the glory from plant collector William Lobb, working for the Exeter nursery, Veitch.
It seems likely Benmore’s avenue was grown by the then owner of the estate, Piers Patrick, from the seeds of one of these two collections.
Avenue of Giants, a new exhibition by Alan Bennell, head of interpretation at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, opens at Benmore’s Courtyard Gallery at the start of the new season on Saturday, March 1, 2014.