Visiting Volunteers in Argyll
Last week Julie, our Volunteer Manager, was visiting Argyll for the first time. She was hosted and looked after by Yvonne, the Area Organiser, who took her to visit some of our lovely garden-openers and their gardens. Here’s how she got on...
“Visiting Argyll was my first experience of driving for over 13 miles down a single track road in breathtakingly beautiful countryside; a slightly nerve-racking experience but typical of the roads in Argyll that lead you to secret gardens that are a delight for the eyes. I was fortunate enough to visit six gardens over two days; all very diverse but each one of them a hidden gem.
Braevallich Farm is a garden of two parts; a formal garden surrounding the farmhouse filled with beautiful rhododendron, azaleas and meconopsis, to name but a few of the highlights! It overlooks the loch and has a grand vista. At the side is a substantial kitchen garden filled with homegrown treats. However, the real secret is the stunning glen garden at the top of a farm track, that has been created over the last 30 years. There’s a wonderful waterfall, a suspension bridge, two burns, more rhododendrons, azaleas and a host of other plants. There are birch and oak trees, secret pathways and a large grass area to sit and sunbathe! It’s a tranquil space, perfect for feeding your soul and recharging your batteries. A garden of vision and passion.
Dal An Eas is set in a valley and boasts a waterfall that when you walk up to it has several plateaus, one of which has a little pool perfect for paddling in; I had to be restrained from taking off my shoes and slipping my feet into the water! Another highlight is the wildflower meadow filled with beautiful delicate flowers, apparently 100 different species and no less than five species of orchid.
The view down to the loch is wonderful and the whole garden is filled with love and energy from its two owners, who took on the adventure of gardening after they stopped taking people on sailing holidays around the west coast of Scotland.
Druimneil House is a wonderful bed and breakfast run by Janet. The garden has been her pride and joy for many years and is managed with the help of gardener Andrew. She has some of the largest rhododendrons that I’ve ever seen! A garden of different heights, there are some incredible views across the garden and down to the loch. The walled garden is filled with fruit and vegetables; I was amazed to see a fig tree growing outside and a wall and covered in figs. Janet very kindly gave us coffee outside with homemade biscuits, a perfect treat in a gorgeous garden on a beautiful day.
Maolachy’s Garden is reached by a steep and twisty single track road with hairpin bends, but is well worth the effort! It’s been developed over 40 years, following the contours of the landscape up to an altitude of 450 feet. It has a small waterfall and a burn running into the garden. The design allows you to start on the plateau around the house, walk down into the bottom of the garden and then rise up in paths on the side of the garden. This gives you wonderful views wherever you are. The planting is full of colour with many different species of plants. Georgina has worked closely with the natural environment to produce a garden that is practical with its fruit and vegetables, but also mysterious and tantalising in its landscaping.
Ardmaddy Castle is a wonderfully mature walled garden set in a spectacular setting. I loved the clock garden, full of cutting flowers in different colours, the crevice garden which is a delight and the collection of rare and unusual shrubs and plants; particularly the Chilean Lantern Tree with its stunning dark red flowers. Outside of the walled garden, there’s an incredible 60-foot hydrangea on the woodland walk and a water garden! After a wonderful walk around you can sit on the grassy sides of the bridge and discuss what you’ve seen and what you might like to buy from the myriad of homegrown plants that are available. I absolutely loved it!
An Cala is on the Isle of Seil and you cross the tiny ‘Bridge over the Atlantic’ to get to it; a notable experience in itself! The garden is dreamily romantic, full of wonderfully scented roses and herbaceous plants. There’s a small wooden structure decorated with designs picked out in pinecones and other natural materials, next to a pond that’s tranquil and sheltered. It has a stream and a waterfall, grassy areas and steps leading up to seating areas in the rock wall. All this set against the wonderful sea views and the backdrop of an exquisite white house with cornflower blue shutters. An absolute delight.
I had no idea that Argyll was so beautiful or that there was so much to see. I can’t wait to go back and explore some more”.
Whilst Julie didn't have the chance to get to visit them all - here’s a complete list of the gardens we have open in Argyll and Lochaber in June and July - CLICK HERE