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Mrs Dorothy Graham Renton (also known as Roberton, Roberton)

Dorothy Graham Robertson was born in Perth in 1898. Her parents were Robina (born Conacher) and William Robertson,[1] a medical practitioner.[2] She married John Renton in 1922, after which they bought Barnhill Orchard, Perth.

On 11 September 1922 she married John Taylor Renton (1891–1967), a chartered land agent,[2] in Edinburgh,[1] where she grew up.[2]

They bought two acres of land known as Barnhill Orchard, which was the land for their new house.[3] The land was in walking distance of the centre of Perth on the lower banks of Kinnoull Hill.[4] The new arts and crafts house was called Branklyn and in the former orchard they laid out their gardens. The gardens were remarkable because they used unusual Asian seeds which were native to Tibet, Bhutan and China.[3] The seeds were sourced from Lhasa-based naturalist Frank Ludlow, the Scottish botanist George Forrest, English explorer Frank Kingdon-Ward, and other plant collectors.[5] Her husband took the lead on the design and layout, but it was Dorothy who was the skilled botanist and horticulturist.[6] She gained the Royal Horticultural Society Veitch memorial medal in 1954 for her work with the introduction of new plants.

The first of three rock gardens was created in 1925. Rock was quarried from nearby and transported to their garden by traction engine before being moved to the new rock gardens by crowbars.[6] In 1934 the couple were awarded the Forrest medal by the Scottish Rock Garden Club for the first time. In 1936 the garden won again[3] and Dorothy received 112 packets of new seeds from one expedition.[6] They won the medal again in the following year and in 1950.[3] In 1954 the Royal Horticultural Society awarded their Veitch memorial medal to her in recognition of her work introducing new plants.[3] The Regius Keeper of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh described their creation as "the finest two acres of private garden in the country".[6]

The Rentons were founding members of the Alpine Garden Society and the Scottish Rock Garden Club.[7]

Renton was also an early proponent of peat-wall planting. The gardens at Branklyn were created from the basis of function, as the layout was designed for the particular needs of the plants being grown. However, Renton was also skilled in laying out new species together in a complementary way.

Renton died on 28 January 1966, aged 67,[2] and her husband died in 1967,[8] after which the house went into national ownership.[9] Besides the gardens the couple left their detailed notebooks which they had made during their management of Branklyn.[3] The gardens are made available to visitors by the National Trust for Scotland, but the house is still private.[6] The garden is known for its dog’s tooth violets, magnolias, Japanese maples and a katsura tree.[4] There are estimated to be 3,500 different types of plant, which includes the national collections of Himalayan blue poppies, at Branklyn.[6]

For a more detailed summary of Dorothy Renton's life, please go to:

Associated Places