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The Gardens of Scotland
As always, our trip was largely built around gardens, our favorite thing to see, and in this Scotland did excel.
The most spectacular gardens were the walled gardens at Kellie, Drum and Crathes. We puzzled a good bit over the size. Best guess, they were about an acre in size (Drum a bit more). They seemed larger, and I am not sure exactly why. They were intensely cultivated, with many "rooms" and long views.
From a high window of crathes castle, I took the aerial shot you see above. The walled garden is a square bounded on the near side by the enormous hedge that reaches 17 feet (you can just see a tiny bench under it on this side). Just left of the center of the picture, you can see the dove cote, which is the far corner of the garden. Here is another view of the dove cote, below.
From inside, the walled garden seems staggeringly large and rich. But from the aerial vantage point you can see it is not that much larger than our own property. The walled garden at Kellie was about the same size.
Tragically, my battery was dead by the time we reached the Urr Valley Hotel. Next to the hotel, parts of which are quite old, was the site of an old walled garden. The wall stood on three sides, but it was just grass inside. It was nowhere near an acre. Now wouldn't that be fun to have.
We saw two major gardens that didn't come with castles. They were Craerae (above) and Threave. The former is a woodland garden, built around a stream that flows down to Loch Fyne (view of Loch Fyne below). Threave is more formal, and it inluded several smaller gardens,among them a walled garden, a "secret" garden, and so on. At Threave, the gardeners are trained to mainain the gardens at all the other NTS sites.
There is a fine house at Threave garden, which we did not tour but would have liked to tour (we were running out of time on the last full day), and a mile or so away is Threave Castle, which we saw only from a distance.
Another two or three gardens got away from us. It was cold and rainy when we were passing by Armadale, and we just pulled up short of both Gigha and Stranraer. Oh, so much to see.
Everywhere we so admired the hydrangeas. They were light blue, light pink, white and a most beautiful deep red. The one at the left is popular and so stylish. Below: blue and white hydrangeas.
And everywhere heather bloomed. The mountainsides were all subtly pinkened by it. Below, the heather colors the hillsides on the Isle of Arran.
SEPTEMBER 2007: SCOTLAND
Dumfries & Galloway: