Category: Great Gardens: Scotland 2016


WP_20160515_15_01_07_ProOur second full day in Glasgow. Having taken the short train trip in from East Kilbride, we set off once more on the tourist bus and stopped off to see the Transport exhibits at the Riverside Museum..

From here we bussed and walked to the Botanical Gardens, where there were some very interesting, exotic displays in various glasshouses and plenty of very pleasant outside areas where people were soaking up the spring sunshine in their lunch breaks…

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A short walk to the Kelvingrove Museum and Park where we explored some of the superb art and artefacts on display and then went onto see Mackintosh’s School of Art- which you probably know is undergoing significant rebuilding after the fire which severely damaged some of the best known areas, such as the library….

Sauchiehall Street called …. and we took advantage of the Willow Tea Rooms  (another Mackintosh gem) for a classic afternoon tea…

The day ended with a walk through the town centre, catching the bus once more (having had a quick look around City Hall) exploring the ‘People’s Park’ alongside the river followed by a look around a Mackintosh museum and a quick beer in the famous ‘Horse Shoe’ Bar…

Back to East Kilbride for an evening meal and then home the next day.We scraped the surface of Glasgow in two days, and shall certainly return for another look at this very lively, friendly and engaging place.

 

Further information: www.peoplemakeglasgow.com

Old School Gardener

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WP_20160515_13_25_28_ProHaving completed our journey from Skye to East Kilbride, just south of Glasgow, we spent a wonderful couple of days exploring ‘the second city of empire’. We’d never been before…we were wondering what it would be like, given it had a rather ‘mixed’ reputation in former days.

We needn’t have worried. Yes, this is a working city and there are parts which aren’t that pretty. But the efforts to regenerate the centre and its surrounds seem to have paid off. We were impressed at the range and quality of the architecture and cultural offerings here…and the friendliness of the people.

Today’s post sets out some pictures from our first full day’s visit, when we took the tourist bus and initially stopped off to visit the Cathedral…

From here it was short walk to the Necropolis set out above the city, it is a wonderful space celebrating the lives of Glasgow’s worthies…and glorious on a sunny day with lovely cloud formations. We stopped off to chat to a group of RSPB volunteers busy stripping turf in order to create more wildlife (bird) friendly spaces amidst the tombstones….

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And from here we discovered a super museum in one of the oldest merchant houses (‘Provand’s Lordship’) in the city and with its own, rather special tudor-style garden with knots of Box and interesting beds iof medicinal and other herbs…

Our second day featured a trip to the Botanical Gardens, Museums the Mackintosh-designed School of Art and afternoon tea at another  Rennie Mackintosh project….more of that in a couple of days..

Further information: www.peoplemakeglasgow.com

Old School Gardener

IMG_1113Our journey away from Skye featured a slow start- we got stuck behind a convoy of three huge trailers carrying the blades of a wind turbine! After a very good lunch en route we made our way alongside Loch Lomond (it’s rather long!) and eventually reached Helensburgh on the Clyde Estuary and specifically The Hill House. This gem of the National Trust for Scotland is one of the few houses designed by the renowned Art Nouveau Scottish Architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Built in 1902-3, to get close to some original Mackintosh design features- especially in the interior of the house- was a joy. Needless to say the attention to detail- somewhat typical of the ‘architecture for the rich’ at this time- was delightful. Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to take photographs inside, but here are a few ‘culled’ from the ‘net…

And the gardens didn’t disappoint either, though these had rather less of the Mackintosh touch, the owner of the house probably playing a more important role in shaping its design, features and planting. The garden today is testament to a painstaking programme of restoration and whilst the layout is pretty typical for grand houses of this period- with formal, terraced lawns combined with a series of ‘garden rooms’- it nonetheless was a lovely experience strolling through these in the spring sunshine. It was also nice to be able to buy a few spare plants from the cottage garden, including ‘Jacob’s Ladder’.

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I’d say a ‘must see’ if you’re in this part of Scotland.

Further information: www.nts.org.uk

Old School Gardener

WP_20160512_21_47_51_ProOK, I’m sorry. It’s two months since we got back from Scotland and the roll out of my pictures and stories is painfully slow. Put it down to ‘getting back into the garden’, as those of you who read my letters to my friend Walter, will know.

So far I’ve shared my experiences of two clan seats on Skye- at Dunvegan and Armadale Castles- and in particular the splendid gardens. Today I thought I’d do a sort of composite post picking up the various other things and places we did/went to before moving back for a couple of days to Glasgow.

We were sharing a rather nice house with 6 friends in the north west of the island. The weather, and especially the sunsets (see the picture above) were amazing for early May…27 degrees C on one or two days. First, then some shots of our immediate area…

Second, some from some of the walks (and swims!) we did…Coral Beaches, Fairy Pools and a long trek across moorland towards Talisker Bay…

We also went on a boat trip where we managed to (just about) see some White Tailed and Golden Eagles as well as a good range of other sea birds….

Finally, and most spectacular of all, we went on a rather longer walk up and around the ‘Old Man of Storr’ up in the north east of the island- some breathtaking scenery here…

Well, hopefully you get the flavour of what was a fascinating and fun week- including a themed Scottish evening meal with us all wearing ‘See you Jimmy’ hats (and hair)!! no pictures to protect the innocent…

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Old School Gardener

WP_20160511_15_17_27_ProOur second garden trip whilst in Scotland this year involved a bit of a trek to the south-western coast of the Isle of Skye, from our base further north. The 20,000 acre estate of the Clan Donald is centred on an historic castle (now a ruin) and gardens, along with a rather interesting museum that guides you through 1500 years of history and culture of the ‘Kingdom of the Isles’.

Our visit, with friends Richard and Ann, was once again blessed with warm, sunny weather. After arriving and a light lunch at the Castle restaurant, we set off along Lord Macdonald’s Drive via a coast-side walk and viewpoint across the sound, towards the imposing shell of Armadale castle. As the Castle’s website explains:

‘The Clan Donald established itself on Skye in the 15th century, occupying castles at Dunscaith and Knock, both within a few miles of Armadale, and Duntulm Castle at the north end of the island.

From the 1650s, the MacDonald chiefs also began to stay at Armadale. From the 1700s onwards, the mansion house at Armadale was used as a dower house (a large home occupied by the widow of a late owner or chief) and then rented out to others.

A number of famous historical figures have visited Armadale over the years. Flora MacDonald, famed throughout the world for helping Bonnie Prince Charlie to flee Scotland after the Jacobites’ defeat at Culloden, was married here on 6 November 1750. Samuel Johnson and James Boswell visited in 1773.

Around 1790, a new mansion house was built at Armadale and this, combined with the start of the plantings you see around the gardens today, became a real demonstration of the wealth and lifestyle of the landed aristocracy.

In 1815, the mansion house was extended to form Armadale Castle, designed by the renowned architect James Gillespie Graham. In 1855, fire destroyed much of the original house, which was replaced by the current central section (designed by David Bryce). In 1925, the MacDonald family moved to a smaller house leaving the castle to the wind and rain.

Today, the Gillespie Graham section is a sculptured ruin and garden with the staircase and facade often used for wedding ceremonies. Housed in what remains of the original mansion, dating from around 1790, the Somerled Rooms offer a unique conference facility.’

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From the castle we took in the formal gardens and woodland walks and eventually arrived at the Museum of the Isles, which was fascinating. Even more impressive were the linked pools outside where gardeners were preening the planting and the sun reflected beautifully off of the water surfaces.

Armadale Castle Gardens are testimony to years of patient restoration; the result is 40 acres of varied gardens and woodland, featuring some magnificent trees, some almost 200 years old. Through spring and summer there are carpets of bluebells, orchids and wildflowers and there is clear evidence of long-term thinking as below the giant trees are the young firs which will eventually replace them, as well as the growing collections of elegant birch and beech trees.

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Plants from around the world thrive in this sheltered spot, including the ‘Chilean Fire Bush’ (Embothrium), Himalayan Birch and Celmesias from New Zealand. More recently developed areas such as the ponds, herbaceous borders and terrace walks provide a tranquil place to sit or stroll, with walks through dappled shade and delicate woodland planting linking these sunny havens.

Further information: www.clandonald.com

Old School Gardener

IMG_1052 I’ve finally got round to posting the first pictures from some gardens I saw on our recent trip to Scotland. Spending a week on the Isle of Skye (with amazing temperatures and bright sunshine) and then on to Glasgow for a couple of days, we visited some wonderful places. I’ll post more over the next week or two; the series begins with the ancient seat of the Clan MacLeod, Dunvegan Castle.

The oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland, this special place on the north west copast of Skye has been the home of the Chiefs of MacLeod for 800 years. We were given a warm welcome and lots of interesting information as we toured the castle. I was even more impressed with the gardens, which consist of a Woodland Garden, more formal ‘Round Garden’ a Walled Garden and a superb Water Garden.

The woodland garden features a hallmark of the gardening skills at play more generally here- very careful attention to planting in what can sometimes seem to be large, daunting spaces. There were some lovely touches; e.g. swathes of Shuttlecock Ferns glinting in the dappled sunlight.

From here we visited the ‘Round Garden’ which had some impressive displays of tulips, formed into a central array of beds, helping to define this circular space.

And then on to the Walled Garden where I chatted to one of thew gardeners abotu the vegetables under cultivation in raised beds, and visited an impressive glasshouse witha good show of various tender, exotic plants.

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But the climax was undoubtedly the Water Gardens, which followed a path alongside tumbling waterfalls and streams and some more very thoughtful planting in and alongside the water.

Further information: www.dunvegancastle.com

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