Holiday 3 - Scotland
Now my Scottish adventure really begins. I have flown half way around the world to see the New Zealand native trees and shrubs growing in a Scottish Highland garden. This may seem excessive, but I'm really excited - it will be like meeting old friends.
Scottish Colour - Rhododendron Ponticum
Wednesday 13th June
Hee hee. Through my train window I've been busy taking photographs of yellow flashes - gorse flowering - and some beautiful pale purple rhododendrons. Now I pick up my rental car in Inverness and start zooming. I have checked the map, and my route to Plockton (where my B'n'B is booked) is written on my hand - A96, A82, A87... This is a real older-lady adventure! Go, Mad Mother Moosey, go!
Two Gardens Later...
My first stop was a beautiful terraced garden on the shores of Loch Ness, discovered by chance - or, more precisely, a posh brown Open Garden road sign like my friend Michael of Winsford Walled Garden has. They ran a little nursery, too, where I saw a cute little bunch of Acaphillas - aargh! Spiky horrors! I photographed a happy Phormium in a barrel.
A Scottish Flax
Then I drove along Loch Ness, past the beautiful Urquart Castle, further west, on to an Arboretum in Balmacarra, where the first tree I recognised was an Olearia (like my lovely hedge). I dutifully photographed the Phormiums in the woodland walk. Finally I wiggled up the narrow road to Plockton.
Urquart Castle on Loch Ness
It is not appropriate to comment on the cold summer temperature to any Scottish person - e.g. taxi driver, nurserywoman, shop keeper. They are all resolutely wearing short sleeves, the wind is howling and it's 12 degrees Celsius. I've read about the warm Gulf Stream affecting the style of gardening in the west of Scotland, and somehow I expected that word 'warm' to apply to the mid-summer daytime temperature.
A Scottish Village - Plockton
The Plockton cabbage trees are everything I expected - how lovely to travel so far and see these New Zealand icons growing tall and flowering by a totally foreign sea. Locals call them 'Cabbage Palms'. My (open) window overlooks the harbour, and a cold and fresh wind is blowing in, rattling all the doors. It's just lovely!
View from My Window
Thursday 14th June
Let's get serious. I don't know how to write properly about other gardens. Should I describe the planting plan? Describe how I feel? Or paraphrase the brochure? I must resist the temptation to make comparisons with my garden at home. I can't just take photographs of New Zealand natives and go all gushy, either. Now I could try creating some general phrases: I'll need some respectable, clear-sighted nouns - for example, terrace, bed, border... And some fancy, evocative adjectives - meandering, softly-textured, welcoming... And verbs - noticed, enjoyed, admired... And now - instant sentences! Here goes...
I admired the meandering terraces.
I enjoyed the softly-textured borders.
Hmmm... Paraphrasing the brochure might be a better option. Or I actually read the brochure first, and do a type of box ticking exercise. Might be difficult finding a bluebell wood in mid-summer, though...
A Scottish Road
Mid-Morning - My First Garden
I am at Attadale, by Loch Carron, and I am going to walk and write simultaneously, hopefully not tripping over any tree roots on meandering, romantic woodland paths. The rest of Scotland may be in short-sleeved denial, but I am snug and warm in my wind vest and Gore-tex parka. Attadale is really leafy, and I think I've just walked through my very first cloud of famous Scottish midges.
Attadale Garden Bridge
There are bridges over the little flowing stream which are the perfect design for my own garden. I've taken loads of detailed construction photographs for Stephen (my resident builder of garden structures) to see. Hee hee.
Off to Inverewe...
Now I'm off to find the most famous Scottish garden ever to have been warmed by the Gulf Stream - Inverewe. Read on...