Creating a garden is a very personal and individual activity. I have often visited gardens where the person or couple are quite elderly and have wondered what will happen to that garden when they are no longer around. This week I have had the opportunity to see for myself what takes over when a garden, which has obviously been lovingly created and cared for has not been looked after, for perhaps, decades.
We are staying in a rented property on the side of Loch Gairloch in the Highlands of Scotland this week. The views over the Loch are magnificent. The property is on a fair plot of land perhaps over an acre, but it is difficult to distinguish where the owner’s land ends and the natural vegetation of the land starts. I could find this gate but couldn’t reach it easily.
I would guess that this is an inherited property as there are family photos on the wall dating from perhaps the 1930/40s. The people who used to live here (I imagine they are the ones in the photos) obviously loved their garden and had created a special little oasis of plants and features. There is natural stream running through the garden to the Loch, the steep bank of the Lochside, the view of the loch itself. There are a number of fine specimen tree planted in the garden including several Eucalyptus trees, oak trees and rowan. There are many ferns, overgrown camellias and even more overgrown rhododendrons.
What is interesting is to see what has survived. There are actually very few weeds as there is no space for them. The hostas under the veranda are magnificent. They have grown huge and have not been eaten ot nibbled at all. At the end of the driveway there is a classic combination of Geranium Sanguineum and Lady’s Mantle. The raspberries are perfectly edible.
To complete its wild and uncared for look, the garden comes with a greenhouse, completeely overgorwm. The ivy has taken over at one end, whilst at the other a scented jasmine is still flowering beautifully.
I find it both distressing and restorative to be surrounded by such a garden. It is really so sad that all that creation is being unwound. There is no tender loving care in evidence at all. The present owner has cut down bushes, presumably to protect the view and for safety reasons, but just left the vegetation lying where it was felled. Though I do feel there is something inevitable and cyclical about the garden being enveloped by the wilderness outside its scope.
We all know that we are only caretakers of our landscapes, but it is perhaps not always on our mind when we garden. What I see in this garden is a great deal of love, perseverance and a sense of history. I hope this is a fitting tribute for the people who created it.