Holiday 4 - Scotland
The fun and adventure continues, as I zoom in my little blue rental car over the narrow roads through the most beautiful scenery to visit Scotland's famous gardens. Finally I arrive at Inverewe, the most famous of them all.
Scottish Seat with a View
Inverewe garden was amazing - scenic roads to get here, paths through woodlands, giant gunnera which all visitors (except me) just had to have their photograph taken underneath. The pride of Inverewe is its beautiful walled garden by the sea.
There is even a woodland path to a jetty where tourists (presumably grey) can disembark from cruise ships. This part of Scotland is the playground for the grey dollar - and the grey pound, and the grey euro too. The gardens are full of grey couples. Not me - not only am I intrepidly solo, but I'm still a bit blonde - in more ways than one...
On the way back I drove around Torridon. He's a bulky mountain (possibly plural) with lines of grey rock - magnificent. The road again was narrow and one-way, with little bulges for passing. It's beautifully desolate scenery, and I'd love to return to do some serious walking. I also have some new knowledge regarding the warm Gulf Stream - it guarantees milder winters, not summers.
My garden reporting style, which I have called Walk'n'Write, seems to be going well. I haven't seriously tripped over anything yet. And only at the end of my visit do I check with the official garden guide to see if I made the right connections.
New Zealand Plants
New Zealand plants, of course, are greeted like long lost friends. Hello, my first Corokia! Ah! My first Astelia! You little darlings - how are you enjoying this cold Scottish summer?
Friday 15th June
This has been my biggest day so far, I've driven many miles south, down to the Mull of Kintyre, en route for the Isle of Arran. Throughout the journey I was nervous, unpleasantly anticipating driving onto a scary car ferry at Cleonaig.
I arrived at the ferry in driving rain, lashing waves, Arran in the misty distance, and not a soul about. White line parking for about six cars, a tiny portable shed and two alarming metal tracks running into the choppy sea.
Aargh! A flashing message about bad-weather disruption and diversion of the last ferry. Saved! I was out of there so fast - not even stopping for a photograph. Too scary! I was so sorry to have missed Arran, but the further north I got from that ferry site the safer I felt. What a wimp!
Arduaine and Its Foliage
I drove like the wind back to a garden called Arduaine, near Oban. Arduaine was a foliage feast, and I saw my first red-trunked rhododendrons - so beautiful. I do wonder if this warm Gulf Stream publicity is a con, though. Even now I understand it refers to the winters and not the summers...
Cordylines at Arduaine
The garden brochures I've collected so far all mention the terrible gales of the 1980s, which brought down huge swathes of rhododendron forest. Then many plants like ferns perished in the freezing winter of 1995 - poor things! At Arduaine survivors are now stuck in a fern house for their own protection.
Go New Zealand!
All the New Zealand plants continue to delight and amuse me - I fear I will end up with thousands of photographs of flaxes and cordylines and little else of botanical interest! Restraint may be called for. At least I haven't started talking to them out loud...
Me! And Castle Stalker Behind Me Somewhere
As well as the scariest looking ferry terminal, today I experienced the fattest, loveliest, tastiest smoked salmon bagel at the cafe overlooking Castle Stalker. It made a wonderful change from tea and cake which seems to be the rage at the garden cafes.