Day 9 |
May 25, 2009

At Anchor In Loch Ewe, Scotland

By Dr. Toby Musgrave, Horticulturist & Garden Historian

Co-ordinates: 57* 47.17’ N, 005* 37.79’ W

Weather: Rain showers in morning clearing to sunny afternoon.

This morning, and for the first time, our beloved leader Conrad did not give his normal early morning ‘bing-bong’. But there was no rest for your faithful correspondent whose job it was to present the morning’s first lecture on The Making of the British Garden at 09.15. Given the fact that this was the first morning that afforded the opportunity of a lie-in, I was pleasantly surprised to see so many attentive listeners! However, this may also have been due to the inclement weather that made the thought of venturing out in the Zodiacs for a morning walk around Inverewe Gardens none-too-tempting

My lecture was followed by Colleen’s second fascinating instalment examining the world of the Vikings. After lunch, disembarkation by Zodiac for our afternoon guided walks around the wonderful gardens began at 13.45, with all four groups taken around by the very knowledgeable gardeners.

This is one of my favourite Scottish gardens. The location at the head of Lock Ewe is just stunning and the magnificent collection of rhododendrons in the beautiful wooded gardens was looking in fine fettle. I always find it interesting to watch peoples’ response when they see just how big of a tree some rhododendrons will grow. And when garlanded with a cloak of brightly coloured flowers, these majestic specimens look quite spectacular - especially set against the dark green of their foliage and in a shady woodland setting.

The one drawback of the garden was the awful plague of tiny biting midgies, which was a pestilential plague. However, as the sun came out and the breeze got up, their presence thankfully declined. Most of us reaching the top of the garden were gasping for a cuppa, but some dedicated souls joined Birdman Rob in the newly constructed hide and got over-excited watching feathery things. In my (non-biased!) view, these offered no contest with the splendid collection of woodland plants and the delightful vegetable garden and herbaceous borders with their views over the lake and backed by the unusual convex wall.

One feature that I found particularly interesting was the Rhododendron ponticum hedge, which worked very well, and a new plant for me was the deliciously scented Nepalese climber, Holboellia latifolia. Then it was time to swap my horticulture hat for my chauffeur’s cap to drive guests back to ship taking the scenic route to allow for a perfect photo-opportunity of the Prince Albert IIin almost mirror-still waters and backed by the highlands in their full sunny glory. And sadly, this was the last opportunity on this voyage to use the Zodiacs

All aboard and it was a delightful sail down the loch with recap interrupted to watch a school of dolphins playing merrily alongside the ship. And no day would be complete without the obligatory delicious dinner, this evening’s feast additionally graced with a lovely sunset.