Friday, July 09, 2010

Ardkinglas Gardens

To reach this wonderful hillside garden you have to negotiate the famous (or should that be infamous) Rest And Be Thankful. The entrance is well signposted, just before you round the head of Loch Fyne - where you can visit the famous Oyster Bar, if you want to sample some first class seafood! For those with less deep pockets, however, right next to the Oyster Bar is a little garden centre, The Tree Shop, with an excellent cafe where you can get freshly made sandwiches, home baking and a very good cup of coffee. You can also buy plants, shrubs and some rare trees, grown at Ardkinglas, on the other side of the loch. This is a hillside garden, so you need to be reasonably fit to negotiate the many steps, but the pinetum, where you can see champion trees like these, is more accessible. The formidable Scottish midges were having a field day when we went a couple of weeks ago, so be sure to bring some insect repellent. They don't actually like me, for some reason, and only bite me when nothing more succulent is available. I'm delighted about this, but it does nothing to help my companions, especially my husband, who is always mercilessly attacked. The gardens themselves are beautiful and the trees, including the tallest tree in the UK, Abies Grandis, are absolutely wonderful. There's something humbling about standing beneath one of these giants, and gazing up among the dizzying branches. These are monumental trees, trees with personality - well worth a small diversion, if you find yourself heading west from Loch Lomond.

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