Things That Grow

Jock o' Bennachie welcomes you to 'Things that Grow'! He has lots of fun and interesting activities for you to do outside or inside, things to grow or make, and much more! So whether or not you come to Bennachie, have fun!

Why not enter the competition, you may be the lucky winner!

Information and Activities


Plants come in all sorts of colours shapes and sizes.

Jock o’ Bennachie knows loads of plants living on Bennachie. As different plants grow on different parts of the hill from wetter to drier parts, he uses plants to help him to work out where he is on the hill! He also uses plants for bedding, making tools or furniture or eating!

He knows that plants, wherever they’re found are pretty special-they give us and all his wildlife friends food, they give insects, birds and animals habitats-places to live in, on, under and around-and they give us all the oxygen we breathe. So we can’t live without them!

Let’s get started: remember you just can dip in as much or as little as you like to Jock’s information about plants! For now Jock is looking at plants, especially wildflowers and trees, another time he will look at lichens, mosses and fungi.

Learn more from the DK Find Out - Plants web site.

Okay this may seem a daft question, but let’s get things straight from the start - so what exactly is a plant? Watch this video and explorer the What Is A Plant? information to find out more.

What Are Plants?

What do plants need to grow, and where do they grow best? Jock’s guessing its not mince and tatties! What do you think?

Watch this video to see if you were correct!

What Do Plants Need To Survive? (BBC Tech)

What Are The Parts Of A Plant?

Okay so now let’s get to know the parts of a plant, and what they do. Just like us they have lots of different bits and pieces, each with a job to do!

What Are The Parts Of A Plant (BBC Tech)

Introduction - Bulbs

A bulb is a kind of underground food store which the plant uses to grow. Many spring flowers grow from bulbs.

A bulb is the part of some plants, mostly underground which stores food while the plant is resting from growing. So they can store energy from one season to the next. When it starts to grow, the bulb uses this stored energy to develop its roots, shoots, leaves and flowers.

Bulbs don’t have to wait for the perfect weather or ideal soil conditions, they already have what they need to survive. People grow bulbs like onions and garlic for food, and examples of flowers grown from bulbs include, tulips, daffodils, irises.

Learn more by reading the DK Find Out - Growing Flowers web site.

Watch the video below to see Tulip bulb grow over a 22 day period.

Tulip Growing - 22 Day Time Lapse
Bulbs Growing

Introduction - Flowers

80% of all types of plant produce flowers! A flower is the part of the plant which blossoms. Flowers vary in size, shape, colour and scent. Petals are often brightly coloured to attract the insects the plant needs for pollination.

Flowers are more than just pretty and nice to smell - they have a massive job to do making baby plants! Take a look at the The Anatomy of the Flower video.

Slo-Mo Footage of a Bumble Bee Dislodging Pollen

Learn more by reading the DK Find Out - How A Plant Is Pollinated web site.

Introduction - Seeds

So now we know plants make seeds, but how does a tiny seed find where it’s going to grow?

Read the How Are Seeds Spread? information and watch this video to find out more.

If the seeds just fall to the ground by the parent plant, they might not get enough sunshine, water or goodness from the soil to do well. Plants have developed crafty ways to spread their seeds around. Some are transported by the wind, some float on water, others spin or glide through the air, some actually explode from a seed pod so they fly a good distance. Some plants use animals - some seeds hook onto animals fur, and others make tasty fruit so the animals eat them... and you can guess what happens next!

Seed Song - How Seeds Move - Seed Dispersal
Dandelion Seeds
How Dandelions Fly?

Introduction - Lifecycle of Plants

Now it’s set up home and put down roots, how does a baby seedling grow up and become a plant? Let’s look at the life cycle of plants and learn more.

Plant's Life Cycle (BBC Bitesize)

Here’s a super animation which takes us through the life cycle of plants.

Botanical animation "Story of Flowers"

Learn more at



Wildflowers are flowers that grow naturally in the wild. They will grow year after year under natural conditions without help from people. Many wildflowers do well on poor soils that has not been fertilized, have a look along roadside verges. Native wildflowers are very important to insects (pollinators). Wildflower meadows are fantastic but unfortunately, we have lost 97% of our wildlife meadows since 1930.

You can plant an area with native wildflower seed but it will take a long time to become an established wildflower meadow but a least you are making a start. Start to appreciate and learn more about the wildflowers that you see as you explore the countryside… so many different colours and structures.

See how if you can Can You Tell Your Corncockle from Your Cornflower? from the Grow Wild UK web site.

Browse our gallery of wildflower images below (select any of the photographs to see a larger image).

Harebells (Scottish Bluebell)
Harebells (Scottish Bluebell)
Marsh Woodwort
Marsh Woodwort
Meadow Cranesbill
Meadow Cranesbill
Meadowsweet  and Wild Angelica
Meadowsweet and Wild Angelica
Melancholy Thistle
Melancholy Thistle
White Clover
White Clover
Wild Angelica
Wild Angelica

Wildflowers - Nettles

Not all plants can be fun and handling nettles is not!

Jock o' Bennachie
Caution: A word about nettles Be careful of stinging nettles when on woodland walks. Why do these plants sting, and do dock leaves help? We might not like them, but lots of Jock’s wildlife pals do!

You can also learn Why Do Nettles Sting? And do dock leaves really help?



Trees-the obvious bit!

Trees are tall plants with a single woody stem, called a trunk.

Have a look at the Tree Parts diagram from DK Find Out to learn more.

There are evergreen trees-guess what, they keep their leaves all year round; such as Scots pine trees, which are both evergreen and conifers.

Have a look at the Evergreen Tree Parts diagram from DK Find Out to learn more.

And deciduous trees-that’s just a big word for trees which lose their leaves every autumn! Most have broadleaves-wide, flat leaves. One of Jock’s favourites is the Rowan because the birds love its berries

Read our Why Do We Need Trees? poster to learn that there are loads of reasons for why we all need trees.

So how do trees grow?

How Do Trees Grow?

Watch the "Acorn Seedling Time Lapse Over 8 Months" of how a mighty oak tree develops from its seed, the acorn, to a sapling. It is such an amazing process.

Acorn Seedling Time Lapse Over 8 Months.
Jock o' Bennachie
Jock’s Cool Fact About Trees
  • Trees are the largest plants in existence.
  • While trees and bushes are both woody plants, they are different.
  • Bushes, which are typically smaller than trees, branch out from the ground and do not form a single trunk as trees do.
  • Bark of trees that grow in the shade is often thin, while bark of trees that grow in sunny places is thicker.
  • The most poisonous tree in the world is the manchineel tree, which is native to Florida. If eaten, its fruit can kill a person. Additionally, standing under the tree during a rainstorm can cause blisters, and the smoke from a burning tree can blind you. Thank goodness you don’t get them on Bennachie!
  • Because of their ability to adapt to most environments, oaks are considered the “king of trees” and represent wisdom, strength, and loyalty.
  • In terms of volume, a giant sequoia named General Sherman is the world's largest tree and may be the world's largest living thing. At 52,508 cubic feet, General Sherman is located in California's Sequoia National Park.
  • There are are 3.04 trillion trees on Earth, or about 422 for each person. The oldest tree is 3,000 years old!
  • In the UK, the oldest tree is thought to be a yew in Scotland, estimated to be around 3,000 years old.
  • The name given to people who love trees and woodland is nemophilist

Have you ever been outside and wondered how tall a tree is? Watch this video to learn how to measure the height of a tree.

How To Measure The Height of A Tree
Tree Parts
Tree Parts (from DK Find Out)
Evergreen Tree Parts
Evergreen Tree Parts (from DK Find Out)
Why Do We Need Trees?
Why Do We Need Trees? (PDF Poster)
Jock o' Bennachie

Jock’s jokes about plants and trees

What did the flower say to the flower next to him? - Move over bud!

How excited was the gardener about spring? - So excited he wet his plants!

Bennachie Gardens

Over 2000 years ago people either collected and grew their food on the lower slopes of Bennachie. In the 1800s a group of people called the Colonists lived on the slopes of the hill.

Today you can still see the remains of their homes if you follow the Colony Trail starting at the Bennachie Visitor Centre. It was a tough life, and most homes had a kailyard or kitchen garden. The Bailies have recreated a Kailyard at Shepherd’s Lodge. In this kailyard, you will see gooseberries, raspberries blackcurrants and rhubarb, the colonists would have also planted potatoes, kale and turnips and oats in the fields nearby.

Bennachie Gardens
Bennachie Gardens (Enlarge)
Bennachie Gardens
Bennachie Gardens (Enlarge)
Bailies of Bennachie Kailyard Project
Learn More On The Bailies of Bennachie Web Site - Recreating a Kailyard (Kitchen Garden)

Plant App

Identify, explore and share your observations of wild plants..

Pl@ntNet is a tool to help to identify plants with pictures. It is organized in different databases. Please choose the one corresponding to your location.

Learn more on

Sample Screen Images From PlantNet Mobile
Sample Screen Images From PlantNet Mobile

This Mobile App can be downloaded from the AppStore or GooglePlay.

PlantNet App in Apple App Store PlantNet App in Google App Store

Jock and the Scots Pine

Before learning more about Jock's favourite plants watch this video to hear the story of Jock and the Scots Pine. If you live this story then there are other stories too which you might like to watch too.

Jock and the Scots Pine

Other Stories

Butterfly Tales
King of the Birds

Jock’s Favourite Plants - Scots Pine

Jock thinks that the oldest Scots pine trees on Bennachie are about 115 years old and can be found just below Mither Tap, heading towards the Bennachie Visitor Centre. Scots pine trees can live for over 300 years.

Scots pines are conifers and have needle like leaves. Their seeds are found in cones and take two years to ripen.

Scots Pine Niddles
Scots Pine Needles and Male Flowers.
Scots Pine Bark
Scots Pine Bark - The bark is rough and in this picture there are lichens growing on the bark.

Scots Pine Trees in the Caledonian Forest

Caledonia is the Roman name for Scotland and is derived from the early Celtic word "caleto" meaning hard or strong. Caledonia Forest is often considered one of the real wilderness areas in Britain.

Watch this video to learn more about the Caledonian Forest.

Caledonian Pine Forrest - Conservation Area.

Jock o' Bennachie
Fun Activity: How to Tell the Age of a Young Scots Pine Tree: Generally each year a Scots pine tree will grow a whorl of branches Did you know that by counting the number of whorls you can then estimate the age of a Scots pine tree. However as the tree gets older these whorls become less obvious as the branches die.

Find out more about the Scots pine at the Forestry and Land Scotland web site.

Lots of animals feed on the cones from Scots Pine. Watch this to find out more perhaps you can find some nibbled comes too?

Wildlife Feeding Signs on Cones
Scots Pine
Scots Pine
Scots Pine Poster
Scots Pine Poster
In the Land of the Glittering Wood Moss - National Storytelling Week

Jock’s Favourite Plants - Heather

Jock loves lying ,and has been known to snore loudly, on the top of Bennachie in mid-July and August in the purple heathland, listening to the insects as they buzz around his head!

Heathland can be found on poor acid ground and has growing on it dwarf shrubs like heather, bell heather and cross-leaved heath.

You can learn more about Heather at the web page.

Heather is an evergreen plant. This means that it does not lose its leaves in autumn. Heather usually does not grow taller than 3 feet (0.9 meter). Its leaves are most often green. But they also may be grey, yellow, gold, orange, or red. Heather has tiny, bell-shaped flowers that are pink, rose, purple, red, or white.

Heather is a useful plant. It can be made into brooms and baskets. Some of the Colony houses on Bennachie could have had heather thatched roofs.

If you find a small patch of white heather it is believed to bring good luck! Some believe it marks the final resting place of fairies!

You can learn more about the heathers below on the web site.

Bell Heather
Bell Heather - Found on dry heaths and flowers July to September.
Bell Heather
Cross Leaved Heath - found on wet heaths or on bogs.
Bell Heather
Heather on Bennachie
Bell Heather
Common Heather - Learn more at Kiddle Web site

Jock’s Favourite Plants - Rowan

Jock has a rowan tree planted in front of his cave to keep away evil sprints. He has a special rowan tree that actually grows out of a large rock that he once threw! There’s even a popular Bennachie car park named after this tree, Rowan Tree Car Park.

Rowans are deciduous trees, they have red berries in the autumn. The bark is smooth (see image below).

Rowan Tree Bark
Rowan Tree Bark
Rowan Tree Bark
Rowan Tree
A Year in the Life of a Rowan Tree

Jock’s Favourite Plants - Cat’s Ears and Dandelions

Jock uses these two plants when they produce seed to help him make decisions!

Jock gently blows the seed head, on each blow he says Yes then No and alternates until there are no seeds left and he has a yes and no answer to his problem!

Dandelion Seeds

It is hard to tell the difference between Cat’s Ear and Dandelions, however, have a close look at the Identify that Plant web site to learn how do to it.

However there are lots of Cat’s ears found on the forest roads around Bennachie... If you look very closely you with find wee cat’s ears on the flower stalks… Jock thinks they look more like mouse ears!

Dandelion and Cat’s Ear
Identifying Plans - Dandelion and Cat’s Ear.
Wee cat’s ears on the flower stalks
Wee cat’s ears on the flower stalks! (Enlarged).

Make An Origami Daffodil

Learn how to make an origami daffodil, with step-by-step instructions, from the RSPB web site or this video from YouTube.

Origami Flower - Daffodil

Mini Grass Houses for Kids

Supplies Needed

  • A bunch of ordinary household sponges (unused, standard size, varied colours)
  • Magic marker
  • Rules
  • Storage container (large, plastic)
  • Sharp scissors
  • Fast-growing grass seed
  • Optional decorative accents

How will you make the grass house? Easy!

  1. Make sure the new sponges are clean by rinsing them with plenty of clean water. Wring out, but do not dry fully.
  2. Draw the shapes to cut on the sponges using the magic marker
  3. Cut out the shapes using the scissors.
  4. To create the room, use the scissors to cut most of the way through the sponge block to create the angle as shown. Be careful not to cut all the way through.
  5. Build the house on the inside of the plastic container’s lid.
  6. Give the house a good spray with a water bottle so that it is damp throughout but not soaking.
  7. When wet, take a handful of grass seed and sprinkle it all over the sponges.
  8. Add a little extra spray of water to the seeds and remove excess seeds from the container lid.
  9. Add the bottom of the container to create a mini greenhouse and position the unit in a warm place with plenty of light. Trim the grass as it grows and water as regularly as needed.


Container Planting With A Twist

If you have just a few minutes to spare you can try your hand at planting but with a real twist!

Rather than sending old items to the landfill make them into quirky planting pots for your outside space.

Read the Container Planting With A Twist from the School Gardening web site to learn more.

Make a Journey Stick

When Aboriginal people of Australia went on journeys, they collected objects along the way, tying them to the stick in the order found. When they returned home, they used the stick to remember their journeys and tell the story of their journey to friends and family.

To make journey sticks, you don't need to bring much along. Just take some string or ribbons (pre-cut) or else rubber bands to attach objects to the stick.Younger children can use a piece of cardboard with double sided tape attached to secure the items to the card.   Older children can make a journey stick the traditional way by choosing a stick and attaching items to it using string or wool.

With all nature activities, be mindful of protecting the natural environment. Only collect things that have fallen to the ground rather than pick flowers, dig up moss or pluck leaves from trees.

Journey Stick
Journey Stick

Also see our Summer Programme, Spring Programme, Winter Programme and Autumn Programme

If you have enjoyed these activities please share them with your friends and family.