Tuesday, 27 May 2008

You Are Welcome - But Don't Come to Close

The Mull of Galloway, as I mentioned in my last post, is gently warmed by the Gulf Stream and therefore lends itself to gardens. Being enthusiastic gardeners and fans of Gardeners World we sought inspiration in the region's horticultural highlights. But, at least from my point of view, it turned into something more like social commentary.

Glenwhan is the garden of Tessa Knott who, with her husband in 1974, bought a chunk of Scotland over the phone without ever having seen it. They moved in to the dilapidated farm house with its herd of cattle and bleak moorland aspect and, whilst he set about making the place habitable and eking a living from the farm, Tess set about carving a 12 acre garden among the rock and bracken.

She is our sort of gardener - as you wonder around the fabulous collection of plants; between the lakes she created; and among the different habitats she has represented, you feel like she has continually asked permission of the landscape to share the space with her plants. Nowhere do you feel that she has unreasonably imposed her will on it.

You rather get the feeling that the landscape has inhabited her as opposed to the other way round. A feeling reinforced by the sight of her scratching around in the stony earth to remove weeds - a reassuring sight for gardeners also struggling in adverse conditions. Not only was she willing to scratch around but was also willing to stop, chat, give advice and find us a potted cutting of a particular shrub we liked.

Castle Kennedy is almost the antithesis to Tess's garden the grand formal grounds of the castle were once again hewn from Scotland's bulk but not with sensitivity to the surroundings but with the might of Field Marshall Viscount Stair who (rather cheekily in my view) used the soldiers under his command to blast his mark on the landscape. Of course in the intervening few hundred years the grounds are an undeniably attractive setting between the Black Loch and White Loch. The effect of a preference for a feudal societal system is topped off though by the feeling though that you are not invited to participate in the landscape, more that you are there under sufferance of the current Lord and Lady Stair and jolly well ought to realise it.

I know which I preferred!

1 comment:

Katherine said...

You illustrate it well with these two 'opposite' photos, Crofty.
Do you think you and Mrs C might move up there?
I've found a little darling for you to do up...