A botanist in bronze comes to a Scottish castle

A bronze head and shoulders bust of Scottish plant collector Archibald Menzies has been gifted to Castle Menzies.

Menzies, a ship’s surgeon and botanist who was born in 1754 at Styx in Strathtay, was the son of a gardener at the castle.

He went with his brother to the Physic Garden in Edinburgh, eventually to study medicine at the University. Later he joined the Royal Navy and fought in the Caribbean at the Battle of the Saintes, 1782.

In 1786, as ship’s surgeon on HMS Prince of Wales he journeyed to the North Pacific, taking in the west coast of North America, China and Hawaii.

Throughout his journeys he continued his practice of identifying and collecting new plants to bring back to UK.

On his return in 1789 he was elected a Fellow of the Linnean Society.

The next year on HMS Discovery, under George Vancouver, Menzies embarked on a five-year journey around the world.

On his return to UK he gained an MD from the University of Aberdeen and took up general medical practice in London, as well as contributing to the learned Society.

He died in 1842 and was buried alongside his wife in Kensal Green Cemetery.

Today, his name lives on in Banksia menziesii (Firewood), Pseudotsuga menziesii (the Douglas Fir) and Arbutus menziesii (the Pacific madrone).

The bronze bust, which is an exact duplicate of the original standing in the VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver, was given to the castle by a group of Canadian enthusiasts, who wished there to be a memorial to this eminent Scottish plant collector in his home country.

Castle Menzies was built in 1574, at Weem by Aberfeldy in Perthshire, and is in the hands of the Menzies Charitable Trust.

It is open to the public from Easter to late October. For more details visit www.castlemenzies.org