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Scottish Gardens
Cocker's Nursery, Aberdeen


ASSING from Raeden House over the hill-top known as the Cocket Hat, one comes upon a wide extent of nursery ground and, forasmuch as our series of Scottish garden types would not be complete without a sample of commercial horticulture, Miss Wilson has chosen a corner of this ground called Honey Braes, which forms a fitting subject for her art. The day may come when this drawing may have an interest more than aesthetic; for already this part of the nurseries has been marked off in building plots, and the red-roofed house is doomed to disappear at no distant date. It was under these red tiles that Mrs. Byron (nee Catherine Gordon of Gight) lived with her son George, whom she described to her sister-in-Jaw, Mrs. Leigh, as being "very well and really a charming boy" in 1791. Seven years later the "charming boy" succeeded his great-uncle, the "wicked Lord Byron," as sixth Lord Byron, with such results upon English literature as we wot of. It suggests curious commentary upon early training and what surprises may await those who calculate upon its result, to read Byron's notes upon his start in letters. "I had," he says, "a very serious, saturnine, but kind young man, named Paterson, for my tutor. He was the son of my shoemaker, but a good scholar, as is common with the Scotch. He was a rigid Presbyterian also."

The owner of this nursery, Mr. James Cocker, is an enthusiast in his profession, one in whose company an eager amateur will find no summer's day too long. Field by field the speculative builder has encroached upon his border, and field by field he has retreated further into the country. Roses are his speciality; but there is much else to interest him who concerns himself, like the present writer, more with natural species than with florists' varieties. The first display to attract attention on this bracing June morning was a breadth of St. Bernard's lily—the fine variety known as Anthericum liliago majus or Algeriense. Myriads of milk-white, golden-anthered blossoms of perfect shape waved in the breeze, suggesting irresistibly the question—why is this lovely lily so seldom seen in private gardens? The answer may be supposed to be that its flowering season coincides with the summer meetings at Epsom and Ascot, when so many country people of means and leisure, however little they may care personally for racing, leave the country at its fairest to undergo the rush and discomfort of a London season.

The Chilian Omrisia coccinea, so chary of its brilliant flowers in most gardens, was thickly set with scarlet tubes in an open, but rather shady, border. Alpine anemones, both the white and the sulphur, were just over, but bore traces of recent display in hundreds of seed-tufts on tall stems. Very conspicuous and attractive was a seedling perennial lupine, bearing spikes of clear salmon colour, and near it a starry firmament of globe-flowers (Trollies), lemon-yellow, sulphur and fiery orange, none of them, in our opinion, equal in grace and delicacy to the native T. europous.

Pansies and violas were in infinite variety and copious bloom, the pure tints of these easiest of flowers being admirably shown up by the plan of planting them in strips of different colours drawn diagonally across a long border. Incarvillea grandiflora, hitherto reputed somewhat tender, here grows in the open and on the flat as generously as its taller and better known relative I. Delavayi; and that, as we all have learnt to our content, combines the constitution of a dandelion with the refinement of a gloxinia.

Sisyrinchium odoratissimum I have not seen elsewhere. It is to be hoped that Mr. Cocker will succeed in propagating it, for it is an interesting thing, hanging out white bells striped with purple on airy stalks a foot and a half high. The rarest treasure in the herbaceous section is a pure white Alstroe neria chiles. i$, of which Mr. Cocker possesses a single plant, obtained, after long and difficult negotiation, from an amateur who raised it.

A pretty feature in these nurseries is a pergola

of laburnum, which only requires to be mixed with Wistaria to create a perfect summer dream. But as Wistaria flowers uncertainly and sparingly thus far north, this design might be carried out effectively in warmer districts. An interesting example of the influence of scion upon stock may be seen in this pergola. Laburnum with variegated leaves having been grafted upon the ordinary species at a height of five feet or so, the stock has responded by putting out variegated leaves at a considerable distance below the graft.


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