On March 15th 1754 the Scottish surgeon, botanist and naturalist, Archibald Menzies was born at Styx, an old branch house of the Menzies of Culdares near Perthshire.
Nearly all of the Menzies in the vicinity of Castle Menzies were either gardeners or botanists; an old record shows that seven of this name were employed at the same time at the Castle gardens. It was here that Archibald Menzies received his first lessons in botany, and where he later added new varieties of trees discovered during his travels.
Menzies studied both botany and medicine in Edinburgh, and later became assistant to a surgeon in Carnarvon. He entered the Navy and served on the Halifax Station in Nova Scotia.
Menzies had attained some fame as a botanist, and was appointed in 1790 was naturalist to accompany Captain Vancouver in the Discovery on a voyage around the world. When the surgeon aboard the Discovery became ill and was sent home, Menzies was appointed in his place. Captain Vancouver commended his services, stating in the preface to his journal of the voyage that not one man died of ill health under his care.
Archibald Menzies is perhaps best known for bringing the dazzling ‘monkey puzzle’ tree to these shores, another Scot, David Douglas, of the Douglas Fir fame, paid tribute to Menzies’ role in its discovery by giving it the latin name Pseudotsuga menziesii
This is Castle Menzies, a sixteenth century castle built for and home to the Clan Menzies. It is a beautiful building that is a fantastic example of a Renaissance transition from rugged Scottish Highland fortress to later mansion-style houses. It was closed when we visited, but we got to walk around and peek in windows and such anyway.