On the rugged shores of Loch Ewe in Wester Ross, at the latitude of St Petersburg, a peaceful and exotic gem flourishes thanks to the warm currents of the Gulf Stream. Inverewe Garden, owned and cared for by the National Trust for Scotland, is a remarkable oasis of harmony and calm and boasts an internationally acclaimed collection of trees and shrubs from all over the world.
Eucalypts from Tasmania, olearia from New Zealand and other species from such far-flung places as Chile and South Africa all flourish there, in a display that changes with the seasons.
At this time of year, the freshness of the spring flowers gives way to some of summer’s vibrant, blousy herbaceous plants, with some of the garden’s celebrities such as the Chatham Island Forget-me-not and the “Big Blue” Poppy ornamenting the borders in the peaceful walled garden.
As the garden approaches 150 years of cultivation, head gardener Kevin Ball looks forward: “We are having an exciting year at Inverewe, with the celebration of four anniversaries. To capture ‘Inverewe through time’, Geoff Forrest’s willow sculptures, in the walled garden, are already a striking, figurative focus for the celebration plantings for 2012. With the use of Scotch Thistle, Anchusa, Verbena and various colours of Dahlia we are hoping to create an impressionist’s representation of the Mackenzie Tartan, which was the clan tartan of the founder of Inverewe.”
Osgood Mackenzie started the garden in 1862 on a piece of land named Am Ploc Ard – “the High Lump” – which could offer only acidic soil, crumbling rock and one three-foot-high tree. His hard work and that of his successors has created a beautiful, diverse and vibrant garden with enough spectacle for any visitor – young or old.
Rhododendron lovers will be captivated by the display at this time of year on Rhododendron Walk, with many examples flowering like never before, while the Bamboosalem boasts the rare Wollemi Pine, known as Jurassic Bark, a modern survivor from a 200million-year-old family of trees.
The graceful tree ferns and rock garden are a delight at any time of the year, impressive in their naturalised woodland grove.
For the more adventurous, there is a variety of trails through the 2,000 acres of the estate and the opportunity to get to know otters and seals at the wildlife hide next to Loch Ewe.
If the thought of all the gardeners’ effort leaves you in need of refreshment, there is a delightful restaurant offering delicious homemade treats for the footsore explorer and a shop stocked with rugs, pottery, books and music.
Where: Inverewe Garden and Estate, Poolewe, Ross-shire IV22 2LG.
Opening Times: Gardens open April 1 to October 31, daily 10am-4pm; November 1 to December 31, daily 10am-3pm. Visitor centre and restaurant open April 1 to October 31, daily 10am-4pm. Opening hours are extended at peak times of the year – see website or call (details below).
Cost: £9.50 adult, £7 concession. Free to National Trust for Scotland Members.
Holiday accommodation: The National Trust for Scotland has a wide range of self-catering accommodation. New for 2012 is the charming Garden Lodge at Inverewe. Sleeping up to six people, this charming cottage provides an ideal base for exploring the garden and the Highlands.
Contact: 0844 493 2225 or visit www.nts.org.uk Call 0844 493 2108 to request a holiday brochure or visit www.nts.org.uk/holidays