Dawyck home for Geoff’s urn

RGBE staff attended when Geoff Brooks presented the urn to Dawyck. From left: Sally Heron (RGBE), Geoff, Sylvia Cunningham (RGBE), June Brooks, Graham Stewart and Shauna Hay (REGBE).

RGBE staff attended when Geoff Brooks presented the urn to Dawyck. From left: Sally Heron (RGBE), Geoff, Sylvia Cunningham (RGBE), June Brooks, Graham Stewart and Shauna Hay (REGBE).

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A PEEBLES horticulturist has celebrated more than 60 years supporting botanic gardens by presenting the Dawyck attraction, near Stobo, with a stone urn.

Geoff Brooks, of Venlaw View, started as a student at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RGBE), which runs the Dawyck, about 64 years ago.

The former superintendent of parks and grounds for Edinburgh University gave current Dawyck curator Graham Stewart his first job at the university in 1989.

The decorative urn stood in Geoff and June Brooks’ garden in Penicuik, but when they planned to move to Peebles Mr Brooks wanted to find a good home for it.

Geoff told TheSouthern: “I was reluctant to leave the urn behind – but I knew I would no longer have a garden of my own so I wondered if RBGE might be interested”.

Originally from York, Geoff arrived in Edinburgh in 1947 for professional training on RBGE’s famous diploma of horticulture course. After a spell back in Yorkshire, he became Edinburgh University’s parks and ground superintendent and in that role continued to have regular input to the course.

Two protégés, who cut their teeth under Geoff’s guidance at the university are today’s Dawyck curator Graham Stewart and Peter Baxter, curator of Benmore Botanic Garden, near Dunoon.

On retirement, Geoff became a volunteer garden guide for RBGE.

Hearing of the urn offer, Graham needed no persuasion: “It seemed perfectly appropriate that it should come to Dawyck. Not only has Geoff been a long-standing associate of RBGE, but this garden is renowned for its collection of attractive stone urns. The fact he was the first person to employ me was simply a lovely, personal link.”

The handover took place at an informal ceremony and lunch at Dawyck when Geoff and June were joined by Graham and a small group representing RBGE’s Edinburgh headquarters.