Four years before the birth of John Muir, the mountaineer and plant hunter David Douglas, a Scone man, had already led a full and hair-raising life in the Pacific North West of America, Hawaii and the Columbia River region. He died at the age of 35, in a bull-pit, apparently gored and trampled by a bull which had fallen into the same pit. Prior to that, he had become America’s first mountaineer, climbing the 5,500 foot Mt Brown in deep snow, on a whim.
“The view from the summit is of too awful a cast to afford pleasure”
He cut his teeth under William Hooker, the Professor of Botany at the Botanical Gardens of Glasgow University who sent him on an expedition to the Scottish Highlands.
I guess this left him with a sound knowledge of which of the exotic species he encountered on his American expeditions would thrive in Scotland. In all, Douglas collected seed and plant of more than 240 species which he introduced to Europe. Most notable among them are the timber trees: the infamous Sitka Spruce, of course, but also the Douglas Fir, the Sugar Pine, the Western White Pine, the Ponderosa Pine, the Lodgepole Pine,, the Monterey Pine, the Grand Fir and Noble Fir.
Dawyck has fine old specimens of all these trees which are highly regarded for their beauty, not commercial qualities.
Walking the David Douglas Trail here to visit these old giants, we read a few poems from native peoples of the Americas, getting a slightly different view of landscape and gardens from the perspective of those who dwelt there and not of European visitors passing through.
Where the song went where she went and what happened when they met
the song went to the garden (heh heh heh)
the song poked all around the garden (heh heh heh)
she went to the garden (heh heh heh)
she went like crazy in the garden (heh heh heh)
that’s where she went (hah hah hah)
(From the incomparable Shaking the Pumpkin, Traditional Poetry of the Indian North Americas, edited by Jerome Rothenberg.)