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Directions to Binny Plants the home of the Scottish Bonsai Collection - Map
The National Collection of Bonsai in Scotland is based around the "Graham trees" as they are known. Bill Graham, of Maybole in Ayrshire was a master butcher, and when he retired he concentrated on creating and collecting bonsai. Over nearly thirty years, he developed his knowledge and his collection of 300 trees, When Bill died in 1983, his widow donated the trees to the Local Authority Parks Department of Kyle and Carrick so that some them at least, could continue to be displayed at their Annual Ayr Flower Show.
Eventually, Patrick Gibb, then principal organiser of the Show, passed the "Graham Trees" to the Scottish Bonsai Association in November 1984. A group of members set up the first ever National Collection of Bonsai in Britain. Mrs Graham then legally gifted the trees to the Scottish Bonsai Association. Those trees that could be saved, as some were in a poor state, were viewed by Peter Adams, a well-known Bonsai artist, to decide their development.
The Collection's first home was at Malleny Gardens in Balerno near Edinburgh. This arrangement was engineered by collaboration between the National Trust for Scotland and the SBA. A display cage was built and the Collection was then displayed there from 1986 until 2000, when it was moved to Suntrap Gardens.
In 2011, due to the National Trust for Scotland and Oatridge College deciding to close Suntrap, the collection had to find a new home. The Trustees were delighted to accept the offer from Billy Carruthers of Binny Plants in West Lothian to home the collection. It was rehoused in a new display cage, and is available for viewing at any time during Binny Plants opening hours.
It was formally re-opened at the Open Day in 2011 by the Japanese Consul General. The Collection has a good relationship with the Consul Generals, and they take an interest in Scottish bonsai, normally attending several Collection and Association events over the course of the year.
Having changed its status over the years, in January 2013 the organisation became a charity once more registered with OSCR under the title of 'The National Bonsai Collection of Scotland Charitable Trust.' In 2016, the name was simplified to become 'The Scottish Bonsai Collection Trust.'
The purpose of the Collection is to promote interest and involvement in the Art & Craft of Bonsai through well-presented displays of trees. The Collection features pines, beeches, larches, oaks and other species indigenous to Scotland. These are complimented by some more exotic varieties including a large white pine and 2 large hinoki cypresses.
In order to achieve these objectives fully, a lot of work has to be done, all of it by dedicated volunteers. In March 2001 the Collection was the subject of a BBC2 TV programme in the Curious Gardeners' Series.
Scottish Collection trees form part of the nucleus of the display at the SBA's National Exhibition and at Gardening Scotland.
Make a donation to the National Bonsai Collection
The National Bonsai Collection is kept in the public domain through the generosity of the general public and the Scottish Bonsai Association. You can help to improve facilities at our new home by donating a small amount of money towards the upkeep of the bonsai trees. Simply click the Donate button below.
Opening speech 2011- Consul General with Alistair Simpson