the gardens at ardfin


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.