Attadale Gardens, Scotland - A Guided tour of one of the most amazing gardens in Britain

TNT_BrianStarred Page By TNT_Brian, 13th Jan 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>Europe>Scotland>The North & Northwest Highlands

Set in 20 acres of rugged Highland landscape, Attadale is an award winning garden, growing plants and attracting visitors from around the world. Read on to find out more about why this is the best garden in Scotland.* In part 1, I will talk about the location and history of this wonderful place…

Introduction to Attadale

Attadale Estate extends over 32,000 acres of beautiful North West Highland landscape in Scotland. It is located just 17 miles from where you would go Over The Sea To Skye and 67 miles drive from Inverness. Alternatively you can opt to experience what has been called one of the most spectacular train journeys in Europe – the West Highland line from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh. Attadale has its own railway station but is a request stop only so make sure you inform the conductor in plenty of time that you wish to alight there!

18th Century House, Victorian Garden

Attadale House was originally built in 1755 by Donald Matheson whose father was factor of the local Kintail and Seaforth Estates; and whose descendants made their fortune through the Matheson and Jardine trading company which operated in India and China.

Little is known about the early history of the house, but in the 1890s it came into the hands of Baron Von Schroder of the Schroder Bank which still operates in London today. This was in Victorian times when, after the Queen’s purchase of Balmoral, it became fashionable for rich English-based landowners to own sporting estates in Scotland. Although the Schroders were never fully resident at Attadale, they were happy to spend a lot of money on developing the house and gardens.

This work was continued by Baron Schroder’s son Willhelm Von Schroder who, as a captain in the British Army, travelled the world and brought back many specimen trees and rhododendrons. A lot of these survive today including the Rhododendron Dell which has several specimens dating back over 100 years and the 2 large Wellingtonias (Sequoiadendron Giganteum - Giant Redwood trees from California and British Columbia) which are also over 100 years old. These however are not the oldest trees in the garden as both the giant Ash and the Scottish Laburnum Laburnum Alpinum date from around the time the house was built over 250 years ago!

The Gardens Today

Ian MacPherson from Skye (father of the current owner Ewan) purchased the Estate in the 1940s and although some aspects of the original garden were intact such as the Victorian sunken garden; many of the other paths and flower beds were overgrown and forgotten about. It wasn’t until the current owners were clearing up after a hurricane swept through the area in 1989 that many of these original features were rediscovered and this provided the impetus for developing the garden into what it is today. It has been completely redesigned and is now an artist’s garden; a quiet place with dark ponds, exotic plants and spectacular views of the house and surrounding countryside. The work however is never complete and as with any garden it is always developing and changing.

Perfect location

Although not directly in the path of the Gulf Stream (which actually reaches the coast about 25-30 miles south) Attadale still enjoys the benefits of this warm air which, coupled with the shelter provided by the Cuillin mountains on Skye from the worst of the weather crossing the Atlantic Ocean, provides ideal conditions for growing plants from all over the world such as the giant rhubarb-like Gunnera Manicata from Brazil, Cardiocrinum Giganteum (the giant Himalayan Lily) from China and the stunning tree fern Dicksonia Antartica from New Zealand.

Read parts 2, 3 and 4 for a guided walk around these magnificent gardens and learn more about the planting.

* As voted for by readers of BBC Gardeners World Magazine.


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Meet the author

author avatar TNT_Brian
I am a gardener at a large private garden in the Highlands of Scotland which is open to the public. My hobbies include camping, fishing,photography and hillwalking. I am also a bit of a geek when it comes to watching pro-wrestling but more of that ...(more)

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author avatar Greenfaol
14th Jan 2011 (#)

Excellent article, Brian, you really deserve the star :D x

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
15th Jan 2011 (#)

I have added this to Facebook, what a great place to work, sure beats a desk job or factory work.
This will be on my list of places to visit if (when) I get to go to Scotland.

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author avatar TNT_Brian
15th Jan 2011 (#)

Wow! Mark - Thank you so much, I really appreciate that. If (when) you come here, please let us know and i'm sure myself and Greenfaol would be delighted to have you stay with us when you visit the gardens :) Thanks again

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author avatar Denise O
15th Jan 2011 (#)

What a lovely place and my dream has always been a train ride through Europe. Maybe too many old black white movies but, I would just love it! Great article. Congrats on the star page, I mean look at you and green! I knew y'all were stars from the start.
Thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar TNT_Brian
16th Jan 2011 (#)

Thank you Denise for your kind words. Greenfaol would say you can't watch too many old black/white movies :)

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author avatar John bond
18th Jun 2014 (#)

This house is so beautiful. I want to live in Ireland more then anywhere else. I love the landscape and scenery of it all.
John Bond |

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