Inverewe Garden, Scotland: Part One

Hi Everyone - I hope you have been following my posts on the recent trip I did to the islands off the east, north and west coasts of Scotland. Today we return to the mainland on the west coast of the Scottish Highlands to visit the amazing and most beautiful Inverewe Garden which was definitely one of the highlights of this adventure especially as we were piped ashore as we landed!
Piper at Inverewe Garden, Scotland (Photo: Deb Samson)

In 1862 Osgood MacKenzie (aged 20 years) was helped by his mother to purchase the 12,000 acre Inverewe and Kearnsay estate. On a rocky and barren promontory overlooking Loch Ewe. 1 The image below isn't the Loch but rather the coastline opposite the garden showing how barren the surrounding landscape is.

View looking out from Inverewe Garden, Scotland (Photo: Anne Newman)

Osgood began to build a house for himself and what turned out to be a garden for the rest of the world to enjoy.

Osgood MacKenzie's house, Inverewe Garden, Scotland (Photo: Anne Newman) 

Osgood fenced off an area to keep out deer and rabbits and added to what was already there - one three foot high dwarf willow. He imported spoil from Ireland and trees from Scandinavia; thousands of trees to establish shelter belts.1

Inverewe is on the same latitude as Hudson's Bay in Canada but benefits from relatively warm air sweeping across the Atlantic from the Caribbean and finding landfall in western Scotland. MacKenzie knew that if he could create enough shelter he could encourage growth from a huge variety of species. He also set about reclaiming seashore land. 1

Examples of some of the magnificent trees in the Inverewe Garden, Scotland (Photo: Anne Newman)

By the end of the C19th Osgood MacKenzie has established the finest collection in Scotland of temperate plants from both northern and southern hemispheres.1

Inverewe Garden, Scotland (Photos: Anne Newman)

The garden contains the most northerly planting of Wollemi pines, Himalayan blue poppies, olearia from New Zealand, Tasmanian eucalyptus and rhododendrons from China, Nepal and the Indian subcontinent. 1 As an Australian the highlight for me was to see our beautiful Wollemi pines growing so happily and even having babies!!

Australian Woolemi Pines in the Inverewe Garden, Scotland (Photo: Anne Newman)

The story of the Woolemi Pines is remarkable as it is one of the world's oldest and rarest plants dating back to the time of the dinosaurs. With less than 100 adult trees known to exist in the wild, the Wollemi Pine is now the focus of extensive research to safeguard its survival.2

Australian Woolemi Pines in the Inverewe Garden, Scotland (Photo: Anne Newman)

It was thought that the Woolemi Pine was extinct but in 1994 David Noble, a NSW National Parks and Wildlife Officer and avid bushwalker discovered a group of less than 100 of these beautiful and very rare trees growing in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Australia.2 The Wollemi Pine belongs to the Araucariaceae family and it was thought to have been extinct for at least two million years. The only previously known examples were fossils which were 175 million years old.3

The trees at Inverewe were cultivated from those found in the Blue Mountains and planted in 2009 in this northern garden thousands of kilometres from their homeland. I am sure Osgood MacKenzie would be chuffed to know about this remarkable addition to his beautiful garden.

To learn more about the remarkable discovery and "rebirth" of the Woolemi Pine please follow the link below.

The story of the Woolemi Pine

Click here

Osgood MacKenzie continued working on the garden up to his death in 1922,when his daughter Mari Sawyer took over. In 1952, a year before her death, she gave Inverewe Garden and an endownment for its future upkeep to the National Trust for Scotland.1

Tomorrow I will return to show and tell you more about this beautiful Scottish treasure.

1. Notes provided by Noble Caledonia