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Inverkip Parish

This parish has been the scene of several excursions, notable among these being one of the ‘Trees of Renfrewshire’ series, and a later one conjointly with the Natural History Society of Glasgow to Shielhill Glen. Gourock was the rendezvous on the occasion of the first of these. The party proceeded by the Larkfield road, and in a field on the left of the road, near Cove Farm, they visited a great maple which stands solitary there (girth at 3 feet 10 inches on south side, 10 feet 10 inches). The next halt was at Cresswell Farm, on the Inverkip road, where in a field close to the farmhouse stands another fine great maple (girth, 9 feet 6½ inches at 2 feet 5 inches on south-west side). In proximity to this tree stands an ash which attracted attention (girth at 5 feet 3 inches on south-south-west side of trunk, 9 feet 6½ inches). Before entering the policies of Ardgowan, Mimulus luteus and the masterwort (Peucedanum Ostruthium) were found. Ardgowan, as we know it, is one of the most delightful estates in the county. It seems to owe much to the taste of Sir John Shaw Stewart, the fourth baronet, who early in this century erected the present mansion house. Robertson, who wrote the continuation of Crawfurd’s history of the county, informs us that the improvements effected by him ‘were upon the most extensive scale’, that he surrounded the new house ‘with an extensive park, and the gardens, pleasure grounds, and ample plantations which he planned, afford striking proof of the excellency of his taste’. The beauties which owe their inception to this member of the Shaw Stewart family have matured in the intervening years, with the result (heightened, doubtless, by the admirable order which at present obtains) that the surroundings of the house are almost unique for beauty and interest. On the main approach is a great maple of exceptional vigour, which, from its favourable situation, may yet attain a great size (girth, 13 feet at 4 feet 4 inches on north side), while a Spanish chestnut close to it, but nearer the house, measures 10 feet 2½ inches. On the lawn are many fine young ornamental trees, including a Wellingtonia (girth 11 feet 8 inches at the ground), an evergreen oak (Quercus Ilex) 4 feet 6 inches in girth, and a strawberry tree (Arbutus Unedo) measuring 3 feet 7 inches in circumference. Near the old tower of Ardgowan the cowslip, leopard’s-bane, and Saxifraga Geum occur. In this vicinity are also a large ash tree (13 feet 2 inches in girth) and a large great maple (14 feet 5½ inches in girth). Another large tree measured in the estate was a beech near the shore side of the woods (girth, 14 feet 5 inches). The measurements given above were taken at the excursion on 18th May, 1889.

At the excursion to Shielhill Glen, in this parish, many interesting plants were found, including Ornithogalum umbellatum, Doronicum Pardalianches, Sedum villosum, Saxifraga hypnoides, Mimulus luteus, Listera ovata, L. cordata, Lepidium Smithii (sub-sp.). The last named plant is abundant in the district visited. Œnanthe fistulosa was also seen, but not in flower, while the moss Neckera crispa was got in fruit (a rare occurrence). The entomologists captured Chortobius pamphilus, Fidonia atomaria, Coremia propugnata, and C. unidentaria.