Play draws on life story of celebrated botanical artist

THE Chelsea Belladonna, based on the life of botanical artist Elizabeth Blackwell, is performed at Kailzie Gardens near Peebles this month.

A collaboration between Square Peg Productions, Stellar Quines Theatre Company and Scotland’s Gardens, the production was awarded £38,000 this year by Creative Scotland to set up its Scottish tour.

Andrew Dixon, chief executive of Creative Scotland, said: “The remarkable life of Elizabeth Blackwell and the garden setting of The Chelsea Belladonna will be another special event for the Year of Creative 
Scotland. “

Elizabeth Blackwell became a hugely lauded Scottish identity within her sphere – one who remained, for the rest of the world, however, rather
 unsung.

Born at the start of the eighteenth century, she eloped with her reckless young cousin Alexander from her home in Aberdeen to London.

Alexander, in no time at all, found himself in debtors’ prison and Elizabeth resolved to raise the funds needed to free him.

After much clever scheming and in a felicitous arrangement with Sir Hans Sloane of the Chelsea Physic Garden, she embarked on the creation and illustration of A Curious Herbal.

On publication, the book both released Elizabeth’s husband and rooted her name within British botanical history.

The production is directed by Wendy Seager and stars Irene Allan and Kenny Blyth.

The Chelsea Belladonna is at Kailzie Gardens from Friday, August 24 to Sunday, August 26, at 11am and 3pm daily.

Admission is £12, £8 concession while under fives get in free. for more information, visit scotlandsgardens.org