My Recent Discoveries in the City of Discovery.
I can never visit Dundee without making a trip to Camperdown Country Park, a 395-acre estate on the north-west edge of the city. Usually, we don’t get beyond the children’s playground or the lovely little zoo, but on this occasion we drove up to Camperdown House to explore. The House (undergoing long-term restoration) was completed in 1828 by the son of Admiral Lord Viscount (Adam) Duncan, a native of Dundee, who led a famous British naval victory over a Dutch fleet in 1797. The battle took place off the coast of North Holland near the village of Camperduin – hence the name given to the Duncan estate. The House is a good example of “Greek Revival” style architecture, but the southern facade was purposefully left plain to allow uninterrupted views from within of the landscaped grounds which slope downwards from the house. The design borrows the lovely view of the River Tay and rolling hills of Fife beyond.
Near this southern facade is a sycamore tree, which was planted
by Admiral Duncan in 1800.
We strolled through what survives of the original arboretum, admiring the lovely old specimen trees. It was good to see that a lot of treeplanting continues here, mainly with variegated hollies.
The Friends of Camperdown have produced a DVD titled, “If Trees Could Talk”. It tells the story of the estate over a period of 200 years, “seen through the eyes” of David Taylor, head forester to the 1st Earl of Camperdown. Taylor was responsible for much of the estate’s design. He also introduced a new variety of elm – the Camperdown Elm (Ulmus glabra “Camperdownii”). He found a mutant branch growing along the ground and grafted it onto the trunk of a Wych Elm. The result is a weeping type of elm I was unable to find Taylor’s tree during this visit, but will look out for it, and the old sycamore, on future trips.
What stories these trees could tell.
This afternoon, we’re going to the gardens of Kellie Castle, Fife, which are open as part of the Scottish Snowdrop Festival. I look forward to taking some pics as it is a lovely sunny day.
PS. 6 July 2009. I have finally located, and got a decent pic of, Taylor’s original Camperdown Elm.
I think I like it more because it has been so elusive.
- 17 Feb, 2008
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