Not long after my walking holiday to Italy, where I visited the stunning Villa Cimbrone, I headed to Scotland, staying with friends for a more relaxing holiday, walking and garden visiting.
My favourite garden was the privately owned ‘An Cala’. The garden was established in 1930 by Colonel Arthur Murray who had inherited a cottage outside the village of Ellenabeich on the Isle of Seil in Argyll. He decided (with his new wife, the actress Faith Celli) to commission Thomas Mawson to draw up plans for their 5 acre plot.
It took a year to convert the terrain into a garden, including dynamiting bedrock, importing thousands of tons of topsoil, and creating terraces, walls, steps, paths and lawns.
Once the structure was in place, the Murrays planted up the beds and woodland using the acid loving plants including azaleas, rhododendrons, Japanese ornamental cherry trees and their great love, roses.
Whilst I visited a number of gardens, all reflecting the acid soil, it was this one that I loved. The plant palette had been broadened to include more herbaceous planting, as well as bulbs. As I’ve noted before, I’m not a big fan of ‘stiff’ plants, and to me azaleas and rhodos fall into that category and therefore I did struggle to really love the other gardens. An Cala was different, not least because of the incredible engineering feat to make it in the first place, but more especially because of the more varied planting – and the wonderful use of water, coupled with stunning views.
Pictures from the fir cone house! The small building was built rather like a shell house, but instead of shells, there was an astonishing arrangement of different fir cones.
The motto on this bench particularly struck me as our lovely hosts have planted some wonderful trees in their garden since they moved to Scotland five or so years ago.
With thanks to the Scottish Gardens scheme (the Scottish equivalent of the NGS) and An Cala for sharing such a wonderful Scottish gem.