We had decided that we would go away for Easter again this year. I’d have liked a bit of sun. Ian decided the Highlands of Scotland. As far away as possible from any sun. In April. But I was persuaded on two counts. The first a trip on the Caledonian sleeper. The second was a stay at Ard Adraich which looked great. Which also had a fantastic 8 acre garden.  The garden is open to the public and there is a small nursery where you can buy plants. The added bonus we were staying there. In the garden. Well not in the actual garden. But the garden studio. 

The house was originally owned as a holiday home by  the cookery writer and florist Constance Spry although  I suspect she wouldn’t recognise the garden today which has grown in size and beauty. 

To be honest. I was in love as soon as I saw the hedge. Yes. In love with a  hedge that sits along the front oft the main house. A stunning camellia hedge. And I mean stunning. 



We were staying in the garden studio alongside the main house where the first thing you saw as you came downstaors in the morning were rhodendrons . From the skylight window. 

The front of the house along the lane had a long row of skunk cabbage which I had never seen before and which is due to be thinned out. Thankkfully after we leave. 


The opposite side of the lane was filled with pheasants eye daffodils. I had planted a 100 for this year. I have to make do with these. Mine are probably flowering in Australia. 


And it got better. The path to the garden was outside our studio door. Inviting me to meander the garden at leisure. Which I did. More than once. More than once a day to be fair. 


The garden is the continuing work of Norrie and Anna Maclaren .  Norrie’s  parents bought the house in the late 1960s and were keen gardners. 

Norries father collected seed from around the world and the trees and the plants in the garden reflect this. 

The garden is full of  Rhododendrons azaleas and maples with rare exhibits and plants from around the world. . The rhodendrons are being catalogued and there are over 1000 species in the garden. That’s species not number of plants! 

Norrie kindly gave us a tour – an hour long through the various levels. They garden on a hill with practically no soil which in itself is impressive. I have heard of no dig gardening. But no soil.   The garden is fed with seaweed. The moss  taken off the granite rocks lay  at the bottom of the rock. 

The garden isn’t without moss especially on this tree which looks like a hand making a rude sign. 

But the variety of the plants, the planting and the colours are simply magnificent. Breathtaking. So much so I listened intently to Norrie and tried to remember the names and species. Great big fat fail I’m afraid. There were too many! But I heard maples. Camellias. Sorbus. Plants originating from Japan. South Korea 

Plants in bloom 


The flowers were glorious in bloom but I loved the ones which were budding and about  to burst into colour, form and shape.Of which  there are many. Hundreds if not thousands of flower buds. 





I have never really looked at the buds before. Usually just the big blousey flowers. But Norrie was right. The buds are often as interesting if not more exciting than the blooms and  they vary in shape, colour and size. 


I think these buds look like little birds! 

Alongside one tree were branches  still with last season seed heads. Brilliant to see this together with this seasons flowers.


The garden is much more than just rhodendrons. At the side of the path from the garden studio sits a big fat gunnera looking magnicent as the sun shines through the leaves. There are camellias. Euphorbia. Large trees. Sorbus. Maples. Hosta. Japanese anemones. Wild flowers. 


The large labels are ones placed on the rhodendrons when they have been catalogued by the rhodendron society. 

Other interesting plants and flowers 

Norrie keeps bees and even at this time of the year you can hear them working in the quiet stillness of the garden. As well as bees thengarden is a haven for birds and we have been lucky to watch the woodpecker at the feeder each morning along with blue tits great tits coal tits a sole robin and chaffinchs. 

I have taken so many pictures of the garden and I only wish I could remember all Norrie told me. The garden is stunning. 

The garden studio a great place to stay and with access to so many places nearby. Oh. I can’t forget fresh eggs from the Ard Daraich chickens, and the friendliness and helpful hosts. 

The gate to the bees the chickens and more plants! A glorious country view. 


Oh. And the amazing space to sit looking out towards the water and The beach. 

You may find me there. With a glass of wine. And a view. 

  

4 thoughts on “The  Garden at Ard Daraich 

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