Scottish Interlude: Inverewe Garden

The beautiful weather continued to hold as our tour visited the garden known as “the Oasis of the North”, part of the National Trust for Scotland.

These gardens were the work of Osgood Mackenzie, beginning in the 1860’s when he inherited 50 acres of land on the coast of Loch Ewe, surrounded on 3 sides by the sea. The land was as rugged and rocky as most of the mountain areas in western Scotland, but he was determined to turn it into a garden showcasing all the kinds of plants that could be grown there. Keep in mind that at Inverewe Gardens we are at 57 degrees of latitude, equal to somewhere between St. Petersburg and Moscow, but with the advantage of the Gulf Stream and 200+ days of rain per year, there are palm trees growing here!!

Top: the opposite side of the lake showing what the landscape looked like. Bottom: a view of the walls, kitchen garden, and shelter belt of trees.

The first order of business was planting a “Shelter Belt” of trees, including Corsican pines, resistant to salt water spray. Only after 20 years was the actual garden begun, behind newly erected tiered stone walls and those now mature trees.

Over the ensuing years through to the 1950’s, Osgood and his daughter Mairi continued to transform the barren landscape into lush gardens, with plants from all over the world. We only had 90 minutes to walk around, but were amazed by what we saw.

L to R: Eucalyptus; hedge of invasive 100 year old rhododendron, trimmed so that it will not drop seeds and send out runners; Tasmanian snow gum; New Zealand flax
L to R: African garden 1; African garden 2; kitchen garden with apple tree; dwarf sunflowers (to resist the high winds)
L to R: Mackenzie’s house in the Scottish arts & crafts style; champion (largest in the U.K.) Turkey Oak; New Zealand tree ferns; Australian Wollemi pine (thought to be extinct)
L to R: willow sculptures created for the 100th anniversary of the 1919 Armistice; rhododendron trees; California darmira pellata, in whose leaves treefrogs bathe (in their natural California habitat)
L to R: Rogersia plant beginning to turn red; artificial pond created with water seeping in naturally through peat, making it dark; fern; “revenge island” where the pitcher plants and Venus flytrap eat the midges that plague the human gardeners
Left: Brazilian Gunnera with leaves more than 8 feet (2.6 m) across; a related species with leaves about 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter
L to R: The “big trees” area, including California redwood, all planted from SEED in the 1880’s; Western Red Cedar; Beech; a bent by the winds but still surviving kEucalyptus
Left: Sea Holly (Eryngium). Right: Hydrangeas reflecting different colours based on soil acidity.

One comment

  1. Absolutely beautifully showcased.
    You are experiencing so many different places and breathtaking vistas.
    You have a wonderfully descriptive way of presenting your experiences to all who care to follow. Well done Rose.


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