Leckmelm Garden Sign
Writing about Leckmelm, a restored Victorian Arboretum, will be one of my biggest journalistic challenges. There's definitely a limit to the number of times one can use the phrase 'huge trees with towering trunks', before impact is lost!
North West of Scotland
Leckmelm is situated just outside Ullapool, in the north west of Scotland, on the sheltered slopes overlooking Loch Broom. It's an official Scottish garden with its own brown roadsign, and there's a donation asked for.
The entrance to Leckmelm is really inviting - a visitor drives into the car park through an archway in a stone wall. There are roses, clematis, and Pittosporums growing against the wall.
Arboretums are Serious...
Arboretums are serious places, so a visiting garden reporter must first check her camera, with new memory card (phew), and notebook. All tree labels are to be photographed, and the camera will have to point upwards at least once - the old branches-against-the-sky trick. And if there's not enough light for photographing the 'huge trees with towering trunks', there might have to be some flashing...
Point to the Sky
Right. I'm ready. My first Arboretum, here I come! My personal challenge is to use the correct names of trees, hopefully getting the spelling right AND the upper case and lower case letters in the right places. If I don't - please be forgiving!
So feeling extremely disciplined, I entered Leckmelm Garden. Firstly I wandered past a row of assorted-sized yew trees, or should I say Taxus Baccata fastigate, underplanted with deciduous Azaleas.
I took much notice (and many photographs) of the huge shrub-trees I could see - a species Philadelphus, a huge Escallonia macrantha, and a New Zealander, Olearia macrodonta, in a summer flowering frenzy, covered in white daisies.
A Puzzling Olearia
This shrub-tree really puzzles me. The brochures I've read claim that it grows on the West Coast of New Zealand, and that's why Scottish gardeners knew to choose it for their West Coast gardens. The conditions are similar, apparently. This is all news to me, and I've honestly never seen this shrub flowering in the New Zealand native bush. Hmm...
I then met some beautiful red trunked rhodendrons, Rhododendron Barbatum, and lots of that naughty Rhododendron Ponticum which has naturalised Scotland's forests.
Flowering Tree Daisy
I followed a path down to Loch Broom through a magical tunnel of its lilac flowers. Such a beautiful bossy shrub, even if it's rather taken over the vegetation. And I timed my visit perfectly to enjoy its flowering season, mid-summer, which seems late for a rhododendron.
The Victorian collectors found their trees and shrubs in temperate countries all around the world. So, for example, each Arboretum simply had to have at least one Monkey Puzzle tree, or should I say Araucarias araucana. Leckmelm was no exception. I sat on a garden seat carved out of tree trunks and contemplated the regulation bamboo grove - another must-have.
Lots of Tree Trunks
I had the most fun walking underneath and around a huge multi-trunked conifer called Thujopsis Dolobrata. This huge conifer had thirty-five separate trunks - I counted!
Then I saw the tree of my young Moosey tree-climbing dreams - a monster knobbly Fagus Sylvatica pendula. I stood underneath a giant Pseudotsuga Menziesii to take its photograph.
Warm Gulf Stream
Then I plodded on, past a monster Chamaecyparis Lawsonia wisselii and an enormous Griselinia Littoralis, another New Zealander. The Arboretum trees are all survivors of Scotland's gales and winter storms, and have the Gulf Stream to thank for their long, healthy lives. And let's not forget the gardeners who restored this garden in the 1980s.
Bamboo Garden Seats
I didn't manage to find the croquet lawn, unless such things are allowed to be on a slope, and covered with weedy daisies and cowslips. Nor did I see another soul, either gardener or visitor. The absence of toilets may have had something to do with the lack of the latter. I mean - imagine getting caught short and having to sneak behind a Cedrus Deodara!
Did I really get the spelling AND the upper and lower case letters right in all those tree names? Perhaps nine out of ten...