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Gardens of the Far North


By AndrewR


I’ve just had a few days away, visiting gardens in the far north of Scotland. Plants up here have a lot to contend with – cold winters, a moist climate and, on the west coast, gales off the Atlantic.

Our first stop was at Cawdor Castle. On the south side is a formal garden, to the north a walled garden and to the west, a wild garden with a small river.

Next was Dunrobin Castle, set high up overlooking a formal garden

Under the castle is a south-facing wall, offering shelter for ceanothus, abutilon and other shrubs which would otherwise not survive the winters here

The Castle of Mey, the most northerly castle in the British Isles, is just seven miles from John O’Groats. It was the private residence of the Queen Mother. A walled garden contains borders, roses, fruit and vegetables.

I have wanted to visit Inverewe for several years. Situated on the west coast, this garden was created in the nineteenth century by Osgood Mackenzie but is now owned by the Scottish National Trust. The climate is tempered by the Gulf Stream but the biggest threat is from salt-laden gales – a shelter belt of trees was grown for 15 years before any attempt was made to create the garden. All sorts of non-hardy plants and rarities survive outside on sunny banks or in sheltered woodland including tree ferns and many New Zealand and South African plants.

Finally we called at Abriachan, a small garden near Inverness, with a nursery attached. I came home with a dwarf daphne, two rare primulas and a variegated agapanthus.

Gardens here are lush with oriental poppies, lupins, candelabra primulas and meconopsis much in evidence. I recommend a visit.

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Andrew didn't know that there are such wonderful gardens so far north, the long wall with half walls dividing the beds I find fascinating thankyou

25 Jun, 2010


Lovely gardens Andrew ,I like the picture of the castle and also the poppies.

25 Jun, 2010


The photo's are really nice Andrew ,lots of nice walks.

25 Jun, 2010


What lovely places:) Love the Castle pictures and all the Flowers

25 Jun, 2010


Lovely blog, Andrew. As an exiled Scot, it does the heart good!

25 Jun, 2010


I feel homesick, lol! Thought, from the title, you had been off to Northern Scandinavia! :-) Marvellous tour, with great pics and information. Abriachan Nursery's stand is one I always look out for during "show" season.

Glad that you got to see some very different micro-climates, too. The West Coast of Scotland has that wonderful comination of heavier rainfall, mist, acidic soils and the warmth of the Gulf Stream, which means that many Himalayan and oriental plants thrive better there than here on the east coast. I always think that the rhodos, azaleas, mecanopsis, etc look more at home on the slopes farther west. :-))

25 Jun, 2010


what a lovely set of gardens.

25 Jun, 2010


Andrew stunning photos

25 Jun, 2010


Thank you for your lovely blog Andrew. Now you all know why we Scots are so sentimental and patriotic, have an innate creativity (it is bred in to us) and why we love gardening (it soothes the soul to work the land). There is a welcome in the Highlands for all those wishing to escape the chaos of airports and foreign travel. Wonderful photos.

26 Jun, 2010


A very nice selection of Gardens, Andrew. We are fortunate that they all are within day trip distance for us. Hope that this blog encourages more GoYers to visit the 'Far North' this summer.

9 Jul, 2010


Bulbaholic - there are some great gardens in Scotland and I think June is a good time to visit when the growth is lush but the midges are still on holiday! I think my favourites so far are Crathes Castle and Inverewe

10 Jul, 2010


Both excellent gardens, Andrew. If you have not visited already, might I suggest that Banklyn in Perth and Cluny, near Perth could be included in next years visit?

10 Jul, 2010

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