Cherrybank Garden, on the outskirts of Perth, houses a fine collection of heathers; it is not an ancient garden, having been established only a relatively brief number of years ago, largely with the aid of a grant from Diageo PLC, one of whose whisky brands is Bell's Scotch whisky. I've visited the garden a couple of times in the past five years and although I found it a little stark, partly because it was so new, I thought Cherrybank was a worthwhile attempt to exhibit a wide range of heathers, a plant which has varieties which flower in all seasons of the year, not just in late summer. Now I learn it has just been closed having failed to win further funding from the Natonal Lottery.
Sad as I am to read of this development, the petition of the 3,000 people who 'demanded' it be kept open and held a protest to that effect raises some more questions in my mind. How many of the 3,000 protesters had visited Cherrybank (or indeed any other garden open to the public) in the past year, or indeed ever? Possibly some of them have, but I would venture to suggest it will probably be a relatively small proportion; I live over a hundred miles from Cherrybank, so my visits are necessarily infrequent, but I do visit other gardens closer to my Scottish home on a reasonably regular basis, and pay relatively trifling sums for the privilege of seeing fine collections of plants. People seem to believe that charities conjure resources out of thin air; they do not. Perhaps if a few more people took the trouble to visit gardens and other repositories of national collections of flora, protests to keep them open would not be necessary. Walk the walk, don't just talk the talk!