When we visited Benmore Botanical Garden, within the grounds they had a beautiful Fernery. A Fernery is similar to conservatories, just specifically designed to house ferns and mosses. Ferns became extremely popular during the Victorian era, and are now making a comeback. Benmore has a collection of 142 different species of ferns from all over the world.
I find ferns fascinating, the way the fronds unravel and the detail of the leaves are intriguing. The images below are a mixture of 35mm scanned photographs and digital photographs taken on a Google Pixel. All photographs are unedited as I prefer to keep them untouched, unless I feel like they need it.
Commissioned to be build by James Duncan at the height of the Victorian fern craze (or pteridomania), the fernery has been standing since the early 1870. The Fernery has changed a lot since it was first built. In the early 20th Century the Fernery fell into disrepair and was left to rot.
Today the Fernery stands in the cliff-side, blending into the beautiful scenery surrounding it. A Century after it was left to decay, it was resurrected by the curators and members of the Young Benmore Trust.
Due to lack of detail on the original plans, they decided to add some modern twists to the building. All the stone used to build the Fernery stayed untouched with the curators adding the beautiful glass roof to provide natural light and to keep the warmth and humidity in.
The Fernery is built of three levels including a grotto with a pool and an elevated viewing platform. And I think you’ll agree with how stunning the interior is.
If you’d like to see more of Robi’s photographs, why not follow her Instagram @robiclm!
A few months ago David told me that we were going to Scotland, not only that but going to a cabin right next to some national parks. No one has ever done something so thoughtful for me before. I was beyond surprised and excited for our little scottish adventure. The plan was so travel by train to Glasgow, see David’s family and stay for a couple of nights then drive to Dunoon, stay there for the a few nights, go back to Paisley for a final night before our hell ride back to Bristol.
Now I’ve only ever been to Glasgow but I’ve wanted to visit other parts of Scotland for a while. You hear people talking about how beautiful Scotland is, but it’s not until you’re there you truly understand what they’re talking about.
I was excited by the fact I was going to be surrounded by beautiful scenery, in a cabin, far away from people. And boy, it didn’t disappoint.
Arriving just after the summer holidays the holiday village was deserted, apart from the odd person. It was great. So peaceful and I truly felted relaxed and at peace for the first time in a long time.
Having a small cabin to ourselves was perfect. It was cosy, even for just the two of us. There was barely any WiFi (we tried stealing a neighbour’s, wasn’t very successful) and signal wasn’t the strongest either. Just what we needed.
We’d wake up late, as trying to get out of the warm toasty bed was just too much. But once we braved it and refuelled ourselves with square sausage and coffee we were ready to take on the day.
In the evenings we’d get cosy indoors or the one evening it wasn’t chucking it down, we were able to sit outside with the chiminea lit, roasting some marshmallows.
We rented a small Fiat 500 to get about the place, which was perfect for what we needed.
Benmore Botanic Gardens was a quick drive away, less than 20 minutes. On our first day we visited, we went on an Explorer’s Guided Tour. This was a small golf cart which took you around the whole estate. It was a great way to get familiar with the grounds quickly. Luckily the weather held out for us on this day, I don’t think I would have enjoyed it so much if it was raining.
Our guide took us up to the highest point and the views were outstanding. There was a heavy mist over the hill tops, it didn’t obstruct the view too much, more added to the atmosphere. The grounds were full of Redwoods, all types of ferns and Rhododendrons hybrids. And moss, the ground was covered in moss. I was in heaven, literally. I have never been somewhere that was so picturesque. I almost felt like I was stepping into a fairytale.
Whilst we were on this tour I took my Canon AE-1 Programme with me with a black and white film. I prefer taking landscape/forest photos in black and white sometimes as the colour can be distracting sometimes to the viewer. I also haven’t shot in black and white for a long time, a good few years, and wanted the artistic challenge.
In the grounds there was this beautiful building, a Fernery. What’s that? I didn’t know anything about them either before visiting. It’s pretty much like a conservatory but just with moss and ferns growing inside. It was so beautiful, I would love to have an equivalent someday.
The next day we went back so I could spend some time in the Fernery. I really wanted to focus a lot of my attention on this. I wanted to be able to take my time photographing the building and the ferns inside. I have a slight obsession with ferns, (I’m slowly filling my flat with them). I’m very visually attracted to them and have an interested in knowing more about this varietal of plant. I’ll be writing a more detail post on the Fernery as I found it so fascinating. This time I wanted to use a colour film to document this space, as I knew it was going to be a lot darker and wanted to capture the contrast between the dark lighting and the patterns of the leaves.
That day was a lot wetter when we visited the Fernery. I mean a lot wetter. Again it was a lazy morning, hoping that the rain would pass. Unfortunately it didn’t, and it really poured it down. This didn’t phase me, I was in my element. Surrounded by nature, being creative, I was loving every moment. David was not so impressed. By the time we got back to the caravan we were soaked through. I was amazed at how drenched we were without really feeling it.
The rest of the time spent in Scotland was relaxing and enjoyable. We popped into Glasgow for brunch which meant we got to get a taste food by Wilson Street Pantry. I saw these guys on my Instagram feed and I’ve been wanting to see what they’re about for a while. It was very enjoyable and the coffee was supplied locally and executed by the barista beautifully. If you’re ever in Glasgow it’s somewhere I’d recommend. I’m still trying to learn the coffee scene in Glasgow, I want to visit more coffee shops but we went back to a espresso bar I enjoy going to every time I’ve been to Glasgow, Laboratorio Espresso. Since the first time visiting, they have a larger range of filters on which I love. Most coffee shop offer a ‘guest’ or just a filter coffee. I find it rare that places offer a range of filters, this being because espresso is more adaptable to people’s requirement. But I love filter, filter for days, black, no sugar. When I order it, I want it to be good, and I love it when there’s an option. They also serve each coffee with a small biscotti and also in (very) hipster science equipment (coffee is a lot more scientific than you realise), is just little additions I appreciate.
I would totally recommend to anyone who was visiting Scotland to go to Dunoon, even if this was something that wasn’t really for them. As I think just viewing something that is so large and impressive, it makes you wonder. It really makes you realise how much the human race takes this world for granted.
As well as taking my Canon with me, there was a project that I’ve been wanting to do for years. A few Christmas’ ago, my eldest brother gave me This Is Not A Book. A book that you have to keep on you at all times (for a week) and work through the tasks it gives you. I’ve been waiting for the right moment to do this. And what better time to do it than in a forest?! Sadly I didn’t get as much as I would have liked to get done but it was still an enjoyable project to work on. I’m slowly uploading video and photos of my documentation of the project to my personal Instagram (@robiclm). And I’ll be scanning the book before burning it, alongside a university project I’ll be burning. Why? Closure.
We worked on this project mainly through our time in Dunoon but not so much when we were in Paisley, as it just wasn’t so viable. This leaving a lot of the book a little more uncompleted as I would have liked. But it’s done, kinda, I still need to scan it all and burn it. But that’s for another day.
Upon returning to Bristol, after the hellish train ride home, I repeat never get the train to AND from Glasgow. (I don’t even want to get into it.) I went to get my films developed a few days later. There’s such an exciting feeling of waiting for you films to process that brings me back to feeling like a child. The possibility of not knowing how your photos have turned out gives you this anxious and extremely exciting feeling.
I hope to create a website for my photography. These will be personal collections and of destinations I’ve visited. Every photo will be available to buy as a print and I hope to be able to publish a small limited photography book of my visit to Benmore.
As well as my photography project, I’m trialling some other work. I have this artistic vision for what the big final project to be working towards. To help me with my ‘research’ I picked a rock from the gardens, (shhh, don’t tell anyone.) that had moss covering it and see how I can maintain this. I’ve tried a few methods already and hoping the one that I have settled on will work out as I planned. It’s all careful monitoring daily to track any change.
This is an ongoing project. And this is my first experiment. I don’t want to reveal too much about it at this point in time as I’d like a firmer idea if my concept is even doable. However, I hope that the photography website is something I can build in the next couple of months before publishing a book. Or vice versa, who knows?! I get impulsive and when I run with an idea, who knows what will happen.
All photographs are by Robi Moore, some are a work in progress for an ongoing project.