Thursday, 8 May 2014

Bute Gardens

Our eldest son has married.  The sun shone down and we had a fabulous day.  Here's the happy couple covered in dried petals ... British flowers of course!

We had a couple of days to recover then packed, deposited the cat in the cattery and hit the road to ........

Scotland .....Bute, Skye, Aviemore and Seahouses.
Luckily the morning we left my copy of Gardeners' World popped through the door.  This month they were giving away the 2 for 1 card for entry to hundreds of UK gardens.  Obviously we made use of it and saved over £40 on entry fees.  A couple more gardens and my magazine subscription will be covered.

The Isle of Bute

Bute was a popular holiday destination for Glaswegians during the 1920s and 30s.  My grandfather was one of them.  The place has lost its charm with age but you can see how grand it once was if you use your imagination.  We stayed at the Glenburn Hotel over looking the sea.  It had a Ball Room and a Billiard Room but it needed a lick of paint!

Just up the road was the beautiful Mount Stewart House - Stella Mc Cartney got married there.
The interior of the house is wonderful. The Stewarts have always been wealthy and high ranking - way back one of them married Robert the Bruce's daughter - but in the nineteenth century another Stewart married a woman who owned South Wales by all accounts! Well most of South Wales' coal mines anyway so when this house was being built money was no object and it shows: even the door hinges are carved!

The house was eventually completed with only a few stone carvings to finish off when the First World War broke out: the stone masons went off to fight and sadly never returned.  The family honoured the men by leaving the work unfinished.

The rock garden was glorious - a riot of azaleas, acers and heathers with a backdrop of pines and good views of the house.  The grounds are massive though. The Wee Garden is filled with unsual plants but it is quite a distance from the house.  We needed a bus to get us back to the car after looking round it all!

I was impressed with bits of it but it's the house I will remember.

Ascog Hall was a different matter - I was totally taken with this garden! It is a complete ruin at the moment!

The couple who have bought it were busy pruning and digging when I walked round.  Areas were cordoned off and I was stepping over piles of branches and cut grass but in my imagination I could share their vision so it was an absolute delight!  The large pond was empty but I could see the lilies and the fish that would fill it; the rose arch was in need of repair but I rebuilt it.  Magic!
They have done quite a bit of work on the Victorian fernery - I hadn't realised there were so many different ferns!  They are all labelled with their name and country of origin.  The large greenhouse structure has rock walls as it is sunk in the earth and a stream meanders through it forming a waterfall and a pool at the far end.  Apparently an eel lives in the pool but I didn't see it.

There is a tumbled down coach house at the back of the garden.  A few years ago planning permission was granted to convert it into two properties but the new owners are going to secure the structure and leave it as a ruin.
There is SO much work to be done here but that is the main part of its charm for me.  The place is also steeped in history - it was originally owned by another member of the Stewart clan - Alexander Bannatyne Stewart - his father started a small cloth warehouse we call in House of Fraser today.


  1. Looks like you had a wonderful holiday - I haven't been to Scotland since I was a girl on a school trip. I would love to see those gardens when they have been fully restored. And your little boy has gone and got himself married - love the guards of honour. Have a lovely weekend.

  2. You'll have to go back to Ascog to see how it turns out. Love the highland cow.

  3. Congrats on the wedding! But what a wonderful garden! when something in the States is 'steeped in history' it means it is 200 years old and we feel quite smug. :o) Those gardens are incredible! I wish I could have been there to tour, too.