Dawyck puts the petal to the metal

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The hydro-electric scheme at Dawyck Botanic Garden, Stobo, near Peebles is now generating enough electricity to power 25 family homes.

Since the scheme opened in May 2014, Dawyck, which is the first carbon neutral botanic garden in the UK, has increased its power generation from 100KWh to 239KWh per day.

The average Scottish home uses around 14KWh per day.

The scheme, which benefited from a £30,000 grant from the EDF Energy’s Green Fund in 2014, provides enough electricity to power both the Dawyck Visitor Centre and the year-round maintenance of the Garden’s infrastructure.

Surplus electricity is being sold back to the National Grid at times of low demand.

Garden curator Graham Stewart explained: “The power being generated by the scheme has increased by 125 per cent.

“The water flow was being hindered by a surface filter screen because it was getting filled with leaves and debris.

“It has been replaced by a submerged screen, so the water is now flowing freely and output has increased.”

During December and January, when the garden was closed to the public, Graham and his team carried out a programme of works including resurfacing work to pathways to improve accessibility to the garden and new plantings which means there are now 174 new accessions in the garden. The team includes horticulturist Harvey Geddes, who has just notched up 35 years’ service.

Graham said: “The two-month winter closure gives us the chance to carry out work at a time when it won’t impact on visitors. Unfortunately, there were some delays caused by high winds and heavy rainfall, but most of the major works were finished in time.”

Now, the garden is taking part in the Scottish Snowdrop Festival 2016, which runs until March 13. Dawyck is renowned for its swathes of snowdrops which carpet the banks of Scrape Burn.

The garden is also famed for its collection of Meconopsis or Himalayan blue poppies, which flower in late spring. The Meconopsis Group named the plants at Dawyck as the finest in the UK last year.

There is also an exhibition of photographs taken by the garden’s 10 volunteer photographers. Their work will be on display in the studio until April 24. Admission is free.

Garden tours take place on the first and third Sunday each month at 1.45pm. The garden will be taking part in Disabled Access Day on Saturday, March 12. There will be free entry for visitors quoting “Disabled Access Day” on arrival. There will also be a tour of Dawyck along the accessible paths. Registered assistance dogs are welcome.