Would you like to come for a short walk on Jura?


Leave your money in the honesty box by the tree, and follow the path to Jura House garden. With its mix of Scottish wild flowers and victorian woodland planting, the surrounding landscape looks like a fairy glade.


Then you open a door in the garden wall, and enter another world entirely


Because of the gulf stream, Jura has a very mild climate, but, as one might expect from a Hebridean island, it is buffeted by wind. Sitting on a sunny south-west slope, and protected behind high walls, the garden flourishes on Jura.


Laid out in the early nineteenth-century, the garden was originally designed to provide produce and flowers for the estate. The feel of the Victorian kitchen remains here, but the planting is now managed with a looseness and informality that I really liked. The feel of the space is intimate, comfortable, and not at all pristine.


each pathway opens up another delicious combination of colour and texture.


and there are plenty of places to rest and enjoy the fragrances and shifting sounds of the garden. The air is alive with magnolia, wild garlic, and many buzzing things.


Walls, of course, mean private property: they are there to keep the outside out. At Ardfin, this is forcibly brought to mind in the story of one notorious nineteenth-century estate owner, who cleared the nearby crofting community of Brosdale because it spoiled her prospect view. Today, however, the walls of Jura House are permeable, and its garden is very much a public space. One of the most impressive things about it is how it fits into the surrounding landscape: through careful estate management, the garden’s inside and its outside work in harmony. Beyond the garden walls, you can continue your walk along a spectacular cliffside to Poll a’ Cheo, (the misty pool) and its stone-age burial site.

To the south-east you see the mull of Kintyre, and the hills of Arran beyond:


And lovely Islay lies across the sound to the west:


Wild orchids thrive on the hillside, and, by the water’s edge, the shilasdair is coming into bloom:


A walk with a perfect mix of the cultivated and the wild.

26 thoughts on “the gardens at ardfin

  1. I have just discovered your marvelous blog/travel/history/knitting site and last night read every word…….whew! Needed a whisky after that…….. I did my Midwifery in Broxburn a ‘million’ years ago :) Edinburgh is indeed my most favourite city and you are indeed a most marvelous woman.
    Thank you for your gracious retelling of your stroke and RECOVERY/RECOVERING!!!
    Have ordered several patterns………neeps, how I love them esp. with taties :)
    Thank you again. Hugs to Bruce!


  2. it is literally a lifesaver to think of such secret gardens. here’s another one.

    a very, very sad u.s. civil war battle site, with nine lonely graves. down behind, by the river, just about april 1 every year, a secret and unknown glade carpeted with bluebells.


  3. Fabulous photos – I’ve travelled round the world, but have actually seen very little of my native country – something I must do!! As an aside, have you seen the latest Sew Hip magazine – there is a pattern for a skirt made from a metre of fabric – I immediately thought of you (and it also reminded me that when I was in my teens, skirts were so short we made them from HALF a yard!!)


  4. I have been reading your blog for a few months now and just wanted to say how much I really enjoy it. Your travellers tales and great photos are so inspiring. Jura is going to be on my list for next year’s trip to the UK… to fit everything in..
    Many thanks for all your thoughtful writing and enjoy your holiday!!


  5. I decided to stop lurking to tell you how lovely your photos are! It makes me want to get back into photography, up date my blog more and visit Scotland!


  6. This is so beautiful! Reading your blog, as much as it makes me want to sew and knit more, makes me want to travel to Scotland and see all the beautiful places you write about. Thank you for sharing!


  7. I just love it when you share photos of your walking tours (or any tours you take!) These pictures are so lovely and dreamy – I live in the States and dream about landscapes like these. So magical. Thank you!! (p.s. I’ve googled Jura and have been reading alll about this special island thanks to your blog posts)


  8. I confess .. I visit your blog as much because of the knitting as the beautiful photos of Scotland. Can’t wait to go back someday, and Jura is definitely now on my list of places to go !


  9. Wow. I am now trying to figure out how to get to Scotland, soon! It’s been years since I was there (studying abroad) and I remember this was my favorite time of year there.


  10. Gosh that is beautiful. Reminds me of the outpost of the Botanics – the one near to Stranraer. That gulf stream is a wonderful thing! But then Scottish gardens are something special – I have particularly fond memories of visiting the Jencks ‘Garden of Cosmic Speculation’ and frequent visits to Ian Hamilton Finlay’s ‘Little Sparta’. And OK so I’m biased here because of family ties but they are only rivalled by the beautiful gardens in the West of Cork.


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