BOTANIC garden bosses were last week counting the cost of 2012.
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) says its four gardens lost about 150 trees overall in the hurricane-force storm at the beginning of the year.
At Dawyck Botanic Garden near Stobo, gardeners lost 13 trees in the January storm, including a 50m Noble fir dating back around 100 years.
Curator Graham Stewart said: “Losing a notable tree can be like losing an old friend. They are impossible to replace. It was sad for everyone to see. However, we have to be philosophical about it, and look upon any loss as an opportunity for replanting.
“We have an annual planting programme with around 200 new species being added to the collections every year. New plantings are from plant material, collected in the wild by garden staff. Significantly, plant collections and recent additions include tree species of abies, picea, betula, sorbus, acer and shrubby species of spiraea, cotoneaster and berberis, as well as rhododendron.”
He continued: “This year we have been overwhelmed by the vegetative growth of many plants, in many cases it has been to the detriment of the flowers. Herbaceous perennials such as rodgersias, astilbe, hosta and ferns needed constantly pruning to keep them from overtaking our paths. Grass growth has also been phenomenal, with the added problem that sometimes we couldn’t cut it because the ground was saturated.”
At the Edinburgh gardens, 34 trees, some of which were up to 125 years old, were brought down by the 100mph winds on January 3.
The garden also saw the warmest March on record and during summer, an exceptionally dull and cloudy July when persistent rainfall caused flooding.
Benmore Botanic Garden in the Arygyll peninsula was the worst hit in January, losing more than 100 trees. April saw double the average numbers of ground frosts. June rainfall was 45 per cent above average, making it the wettest in 10 years. Benmore also recorded 125mm or 4.9in on November 18, the greatest amount of rain to fall at the garden in one day ever.
An RGBE spokesperson said: “The most significant impacts resulting from the weather have been: the loss of around 150 trees during January’s storm; dry soil caused by low rainfall during an unusually dry and warm February and March; frost damage to young leaves and shrubs during a cool and unsettled period in early April and saturated ground and floods resulting from one of the wettest summers on record.”
The coldest day last year at Dawyck was February 2, with a temperature of -7.8C, while the warmest day was on May 24 (26.6C) and the wettest, when 37mm of rain was recorded was September 21.