As many of our readers will know, in the first half of the twentieth century, Kippen was renowned as the home of the biggest vine in the world, (second largest was in Kew Gardens.) This, and other vines, had been planted in 1891 by Duncan Buchanan in greenhouses in Cauldhame.
Income from the vine was initially derived from the sale of grapes (as far afield as Harrods), given that fruit from abroad was not readily available in those days. As time went on, this income was supplemented by an increasing volume of tourist trade. In the early 1960s, it was estimated that the vine was attracting over 20,000 visitors annually, with peak daily numbers in excess of 1,000.
However, maintenance of the vine and its companions was extremely labour-intensive and very specialised, and in 1964, Selby Buchanan reluctantly decided to cut it down.
The full history of the vine, with many illustrations, was documented in 1991 in a booklet by Alan Edwards (a member of the Buchanan family with personal memories of the vine). This had gone out of print, but was resurrected in 2013 by Kippen Heritage, and has been available to buy in McNicolls, Rhubarb Lime and The Inn. That reprint sold its last copy recently, and a small print run resulted in its re-introduction in early March.
It is intended to publish an expanded version towards the end of this year, telling what has happened to offspring of the original vine since it was cut down. It is known that many greenhouses in Kippen, from Cauldhame to Shirgarton, have cuttings. There are also plants in Culzean Castle, with Alan Edwards in Angus, and at locations in Surrey and Buckinghamshire.
The Wee Vine would very much like to know of other descendants, so please email us details (and photos) at email@example.com.
Stuart Thomson & Rick Dekker