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Kilmalcolm Parish I

This parish affords many interesting localities for naturalists, and it has on several occasions been the scene of Society excursions. Twice the approach has been from Bridge of Weir, in the adjoining parish of Kilbarchan. Proceeding towards Carruth from Bridge of Weir station, the heart-leaved valerian (Valeriana pyrenaica) and Sedum villosum were found, and near the entrance to Carruth the small-leaved maple (Acer campestre) occurs as a hedge plant, a common use for this species in some parts of England, rarely seen here however. In the glen at Carruth are many interesting plants, some of them undoubted introductions, but their rare beauty lends a charm to the bits in the ravine. Among the plants found there are the globe-flower (Trollius europœus), Welsh poppy (Meconopsis cambrica), Saxifraga umbrosa, S. Geum, Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum multiflorum), and the oak and beech ferns. The rare barren-wort (Epimedium alpinum) has also been gathered here, but was not found on the occasion of the Society’s visit. Many interesting trees were noted in the vicinity of Carruth House, but the collection was more remarkable for variety than for the size of individual specimens.

Craigbet, in close proximity to Carruth, has been twice visited. On each occasion those present had the advantage of being personally conducted about the gardens by the late proprietor, J.M. M‘Phedran, Esq. The collection of herbaceous plants here is almost unique in the West of Scotland in its interest and variety, and the bee observatory, bee fountain, and the curios brought from the far East which adorn the garden make visits to the place memorable to most strangers. The approach is an avenue of limes intersected opposite the house by another, forming in the original design a cross, but some of the trees in one of the avenues having been felled, the intention of the designer is not now apparent without explanation. Behind the house and situated one at each corner, stand a pair of vigorous yew trees, planted to commemorate a marriage in the Porterfield family (formerly proprietors of Duchall). The trees, appropriately enough, are male and female, and they show, to be contemporaries, an interesting discrepancy in the rate of growth, favouring the male tree, which at the narrowest part of the trunk accessible measured on 8th June, 1889, 7 feet 8¾ inches, its companion, the female, measuring 6 feet ¾ inch. Readers may recall that Gilbert White, in writing of the old yew in the churchyard at Selborne, declared that ‘as far as we have been able to observe, the males of this species become much larger than the females’. By the roadsides here bald-money (Meum athamanticum) is a characteristic plant, and a clump of Carex ovalis and many fine patches of the English stonecrop (Sedum anglicum) were noted between Craigbet and Kilmalcolm. The estate of Duchall, which lies between Craigbet and the village of Kilmalcolm, has much fine timber, the trees in the avenues of beech and lime being of large proportions. Against one of the gables of the mansion is a yew tree, probably of great age. From measurements taken in 1838, its branches extend in one direction 53 feet, the girth of the trunk being 13 feet 10 inches; but as the principal stem is very short and many of the branches almost prone, measurement of girth becomes an unreliable test. In the grounds, bistort (Polygonum Bistorta) and Doronicum plantagineum were noted.