Armadale in Skye

 In front of the Walled Garden.
Head Gardener at Armadale.

Speed, bonny gardener, like a bird on the wing... over the sea to Skye.

That's the Isle of Skye in Scotland, where I recently visited two wonderful gardens. And there's a bridge, too. Firstly I went along the coast road to visit the gardens at Armadale.

Clan Donald

Armadale is near the car ferry terminal, which takes intrepid drivers to Mallaig on the mainland. It is the seat of clan Donald, and has gardens, a cafe and museum, and a ruined castle.

I walked up Lord MacDonald's drive past a huge flowering Olearia macradonta, native of New Zealand, and over a deep gully full of ferns, Gunnera, and clumps of Dalmera.

So far, everything looked normal for a West Coast of Scotland garden. But a signpost looked promising, pointing to a castle ruin, a laundry ruin, and ponds.

 In Armadale Gardens, on the Isle of Syke.
Bridge in the Gully

I didn't notice the 's', and so I thought I'd try the pond (singular) first, mentally preparing myself for a Monet bridge and some large lumpy Gunnera plants. Little did I realise what was in store.

 One of the three.
An Armadale Pond

Three Ponds

Suddenly, amazement, wonder, excitement - the entry in my notebook, underlined, in upper case letters - THREE PONDS!!!

Armadale has three beautiful ponds, side by side, but on slightly different levels, water flowing between. One was fringed by fluffy Astilbes, and I loved the hostas and a beautiful maroon-flowered thistle perennial planted alongside. The upper pool even had a rockery.

The Perfect Water Feature

These three ponds together formed the most perfect water feature that I've ever seen. Hmm... Now that's something to think about in my own garden back home!

I learnt something interesting from Armadale, concerning weeds and so-called wildflower meadows. Here I saw my first really weedy border, full of tall grass stalks, dock weeds, campion, Euphorbia Griffii, blackberry, and the odd flax. The trick was in the edging - a neatly mown strip beside the path.

 Hee hee...
Wildflowers or Weeds?

Evocative Signs

I found yet another weedy area, again with a mown edge. This looked awful - until I saw the sign saying 'Wildflower Meadow'. Ah! So that's what's happening. Instantly forgiving the messy look, my thoughts zoomed to the Moosey garden, snoozing in the wintry depths of New Zealand. I could erect evocative signs - like 'Wilderness Weedery' - and get away with all sorts of gardening nonsense!

 A beautiful combination for mid-summer.
Bronze Flaxes and Daylilies

Bronze flaxes (Phormium tenax) were the New Zealand native in vogue in Armadale's gardens. I found a thick row of them near the self-catering cottages, as well as many solitary no-friends specimens in the larger borders. Many were surrounded by fussy apricot primulas - an interesting combination!

 Apricot primulas are very popular too.
Bronze Flaxes in a Scottish Garden

But flaxes were definitely becoming old hat for this well-experienced garden visitor. My camera was full of photographs of flaxes in Scotland - how about finding something different, like the romantic old castle?

 With hostas.
Laundry Ruins

Laundry Garden?

I found some ruins up some steps, but they were disappointingly small. No problem - this turned out to be just the castle laundry.

And I've got a Laundty Garden back home, so I can relate to this cute little garden room, with pots of hostas and ferns.

But back to the signpost I went, to find the correct path to Castle Armadale. Would I have enough room on my camera for photographs of the actual castle?

Garden Rooms

I found it easily - what a beautiful place! The castle ruins have been incorporated into the garden, with gravel paths, beds full of roses, maples, hostas, flaxes, stachys, and bergenias. Original castle rooms have been transformed into garden rooms!

The Castle Cat

And I met a black and white castle cat, sitting on one of the outer crenulated walls. I took lots and lots of photographs of him. Oops.

 On the Isle of Skye.
Armadale Castle Cat

Against one of the castle walls a wide border has been richly planted with a mixture of perennials and shrubs. Red Cotinus, Viburnums and golden-leafed Spiraea took their places alongside traditional flowers, like Astilbes, foxgloves, and maroon thistles.

A Beautiful View

The view of the borders from above was wonderful. A kind visitor took my photograph in front of the walls, just before my camera card ran out. Blast!

 The wide border is filled with shrubs and perennials.
View of Armadale Gardens

I also loved the plantings of New Zealand Cordylines. They weren't just squashed into urns or pots, but grew in the lawns. Some of the red specimens were quite mature. Oh dear! I had to take just a few more red-cordyline pictures...

 Red leafed shrubs looking good.
Armadale Plantings

Over the Sea to Skye

If you're anywhere near Skye - definitely head for Armadale - you can go over the sea by ferry, or by bridge. Take a spare camera card, though, because you'll take heaps of photographs.

And lovers of water features will be dangerously inspired by the three ponds! Well, I was...