Botanical Heritage Celebrated

We are so pleased to be welcoming Lady Jane Parker-Clark to deliver a course on Botanical Illustration this September given the fantastic botanical heritage of the Stewart family who are inextricably linked with Shambellie.

Olga Margaret Mounsey was born in Edinburgh in 1920.  She was visiting her grandfather in Canada when the Second World War started and it was decided that she should stay on and go to University there, studying engineering – the only girl on her course.  She went on to work for the Canadian Naval Research Institute where her artistic skills were put into action in support of the war effort.  Eventually she returned to Edinburgh working for the Royal Navy.

In 1946 she married Frank Stewart and a year later, a heavily pregnant Olga, was walking with her husband in Aviemore when she decided to rest and started to draw a wildflower. 

“While climbing a hill, rather slowly and rather pregnant I collected flowers on the way and sat down to draw them … So began my passion to draw practically every plant, wild and naturalised that I have seen since “.

This was the start of her interest in botanical illustration, drawing the plants she found and painting them in watercolour.  She became one of the leading field botanists in Scotland and in 1975 she was appointed as the botanical recorder for Kirkcudbrightshire.  Characteristically, she took up her duties seriously and enthusiastically, scouring the area from the top of the Galloway Hills to the Solway, often three days a week between March and October, sometimes alone and sometimes with friends. Her drawings appeared in many publications including in Princess Grace of Monaco’s My Book of Flowers and her own work Flowering Plants of Kirkcudbrightshire.

Olga discovered a new species of dandelion in a number of places in Dumfries and Galloway which was given the name Taraxacum Olgae (Olga’s dandelion).  She was concerned about nature conservation and encouraged landowners and other environmental managers to do their best for plants.  We are so glad to be carrying on her legacy, as we develop a landscape management plan for the Shambellie site.  If you would like to learn more about botanical illustration then you can find details of the Botanical Illustration course here.

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