When we first received our family membership to the National Trust for Scotland I immediately pored over the guidebook, looking at new places that we could explore this summer and mentally planning trips. And yet the first NTS place that we visited since becoming members was somewhere I have already been – Inverewe Garden in Wester Ross.
We returned to the Gairloch area a few weeks ago for a summer holiday (more about the holiday and the alleged ‘summer’ to come on the blog soon) and one of the first places we visited was Inverewe Garden. I was eager to return, having fallen in love with the idyllic loch-side garden last year. On my previous visit I had left a 2 year old napping and pushed a sleeping 8 week old baby around in her buggy; the garden and its peacefulness a much-needed balm to the sleep-deprived cloud that surrounded me in those early days. It was a quiet walk with a friend; a place in which to take some deep, plant-infused, breaths and have my spirits lifted in that way that only nature can. This year I enjoyed the peacefulness just as much but this time I discovered the garden through the eyes of my 3 year old.
Being reminded of simple pleasures is one of the many blessings of having children and I loved discovering the joys of Inverewe Garden with my son. Isaac bounded into the garden at full speed, clutching his Passport to the World – such a lovely way to introduce children to the garden and its wide variety of plants. As he is only 3 we made it into more of a treasure hunt, with Isaac looking out for the ’round signs’ which we then read to him, but I can imagine older children would just love filling in their passports. Whereas last year I had walked past many of these signs this year I was stooped down beside each one we found, taking in the garden from my son’s eye level.
We wandered around the garden, pointing out different things to Isaac as he ran from one thing to the next. It is such a wonder, and joy, to see so many exotic plants thriving in this little Highland haven. Nestled into the edge of Loch Ewe, in Poolewe, the garden was created in 1862 by Osgood Mackenzie and developed until the 1950s by his daughter, Mairi. Thanks to the Gulf Stream and some trial and error by Osgood in cultivating the subtropical plants in this Highland setting, Inverewe is a rare gem of a garden, and home to an astonishing variety of plants.
Holidaying at the end of June meant that we had missed the Rhodedendrons and Azaleas at the height of their colour but my highlights included the Walled Garden, with its lavender and rose edged paths where Isaac tried to outrun some bees, the Big Trees (towering Californian redwoods), the Eucalyptus trees that brought back memories of Australia, and the leafy views across Loch Ewe.
We were too early for some new things to Inverewe this summer – the opening of Inverewe House for the first time and a new ‘Savage Garden’ of carnivorous plants. Hopefully we can experience these next summer.
Following the Global Garden Kids’ Trail can take up to two hours and unfortunately we ran out of time to complete it. As we are planning another holiday in the Gairloch area next summer I know that we will return again – and that Isaac will enjoy rediscovering the trail, perhaps with Flora in tow this time.
Watching Isaac racing up and down the paths, smelling flowers, playing a game with fallen leaves and gazing up at the trees I was reminded how important it is to immerse little ones in nature and how much they get out of an hour in a place like this. How much we all get from being surrounded by such natural beauty. No matter what is going on in the world there is comfort in being in a garden – flowers will bloom, leaves will fall.
The National Trust for Scotland slogan is ‘a place for everyone’ and Inverewe Garden is exactly that; somewhere everyone can enjoy, whether you’re a tired mother, a 3 year old, a retired grandfather or someone who just loves beautiful gardens.
If you’re interested in becoming a member of the National Trust for Scotland you can get 3 months’ free here.