The entrance to Leckmelm Shrubbery and Arboretum from Google Maps
This takes a little find and is a world away from the highly commercialised gardens usually open to the public. It is situated on the north east shore of Loch Broom 3 miles down the A893 south of Ullapool. The post code IV23 2RH will get you close but you will still have to hunt a little, look out for the high stone wall set back from the road.
Originally started in the 1870s by Mr Alexander Pirie, who owned the Leckmelm estate and had made his money in the family paper manufacturing business in the Aberdeen area. The location made good use of its sheltered location on the west coast of Scotland where tender plants can benefit from the protection of the warm gulf steam. This allowed the planting of many rare and tender plants which have now had time to grow to impressive sizes. Covering about 12 acres the garden is criss-crossed with paths and initially the garden flourished with a staff of 12 gardeners by 1910. The garden also had a walled kitchen garden with greenhouses and utility buildings. Of this only the wall by the road still exists and the carpark is found through an arch in this wall.
Sadly; the garden was abandoned in 1945, many of these large Victorian gardens became unsuitable around this time, and the garden was left to grow wild until 1985 when it was decided to salvage what was left. Fortunately, the amenable climate and location meant many of the plants had flourished and there is now an excellent collection of mature trees and shrubs growing in the garden. The people working on it only have limited resources they can bring to the project but what the garden is none the worse for it and clearly the garden has enormous potential.
Part of the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh (RBGE); Logan Botanic Garden sits at one of the most south-westerly points of Scotland, only 40 miles from the centre of Belfast as the crow flies. Bathed by the gulf stream to the west and sheltered by the Scottish Lowlands to the east this garden contains a stunning collection of tender plants.
Most of the most dramatic plants are the tender ones from the southern hemisphere and these are grown in the shelter of the walled garden. The walls, up to 15 feet high, are associated with a castle ruined in the 16th century though the garden itself was originally part of the Logan Estate prior to it becoming part of the RBGE in 1969.
Though a botanic garden and therefore a collection of plants rather than a garden per se it is a wonderful display of what tender plants can be grown in such a northerly latitude if the local conditions are used to their best advantage.
Vegetable garden detail at Inverewe Garden
In 1862 the Mackenzie family purchased the 2000 acre Inverewe estate on the North West coast of Scotland and the 20 year old Osgood Mackenzie started to make himself a garden. He chose his site well; though 57° 46’ north, and so north of Inverness, the location benefits from the warming effect of the Gulf Stream. This wasn’t its only advantage as located at the southern base of the sea Loch Ewe providing shelter from the surrounding hills. To augment this McKenzie planted extensive wood lands to the east to shelter the site, an area which is now an important wildlife habitat.
This wise choice of location and its improvement allowed the garden to grow a vast range of plants that would not have otherwise survived the winters. This was helped by the early construction of the walled garden and the improvement of the land with large amounts of topsoil. The garden outside the walled area uses the shelter of trees which shelter the larger shrubs and these shelter smaller plants and so on down.
This garden demonstrates how both the local surroundings and careful improvement can be as big an influence on the potential of a site of a garden as the physical location on a map.