Over thirty Caley Members went on a tour to Dumfries and Galloway in mid-July.
We were based at Barony College, one of Scotland’s Rural Colleges, which is a little way outside Dumfries. The welcome was warm and the food excellent. We shared the campus with Nithsdale Pony Club; a lively bunch of youngsters aged seven to eighteen, the college also providing accommodation for their mounts.
The weather had been predicted to be dire, but in fact although it was muddy underfoot from previous and overnight rain we fared pretty well. Sometimes we set off in the damp or even rain and by the time we arrived at our first garden the sun was coming out.
Our first full day started at Craichlaw with a walk round the loch and lavender bantams, followed by a visit to the Caley Palace Hotel and the Caley Gardens in its old walled garden. The variety available at this nursery had us trouping back to the bus with bags and boxes of goodies.
Our tour guide, Sally Heron, had made her usual meticulous arrangements and excellent choices to make a varied and unusual programme. The largest gardens were Threave, NTS; Logan, RBGE outstation and Glenwhan. The smallest were four gardens in and around Kirkcudbright, including the garden of Broughton House (the painter Hornell’s home), Elizabeth MacGregor’s fabulous walled garden and nursery, and two modern bungalows with gardens created from scratch in less than ten years each. (What a day!)
I did not know that Hostas could be fragrant, but at Newtonairds Lodge Hostas we met both fragrant Hostas and their engaging growers James and Carol Coutts. More plants, not just Hostas, went into the boot.
The late season affected all the gardens visited, but to our advantage. Many roses were still in full bloom along with flowering shrubs which would normally have gone over by mid-July.
While enjoying the large “public” gardens, the most interesting were the several private gardens which exhibited their owners individuality. How I envied the energy some people must have to achieve so much in what was often a very short time. They were all most welcoming and prepared to share their enthusiasm with us, not to mention their home baking.
We visited three specialist nurseries, and one garden centre. Most of the gardens had tempting plants on sale too. Our lovely, skilful bus driver learned a great deal about garden tours from us, as we filled his boot with our purchases. Then back home to plant them all!