Garden Portrait: Glenwhan Gardens

Glenwhan in Gaelic means “Rushy Glen” or “Grassy Green Place”

One reason for our recent visit to Dumfries and Galloway was the climate. The balmy air caused by the Gulf Stream creates a micro-climate meaning that plants that normally can’t grow outdoors all year round in Scotland, can here. Even sub-tropical species thrive. Around six gardens can be visited around Stranraer on the south-west coast, known as Scotland’s Garden Route and choosing just a couple to visit was difficult. Eventually we decide on Glenwhan and Logan Botanical Garden.

Glenwhan Gardens is focused around a couple of main lochans (ponds) and not only has a profusion of plants, but also a Tree Trail with over 130 different trees identified for the dendrologist (tree lover), and a Wildflower walk through adjacent moorland. Glenwhan Gardens offer magnificent views over Luce Bay, the Mull of Galloway and the Isle of Man, a perfect backdrop for this garden gem.

Setting off around the largest lochan we follow mown grassed pathways, weaving our way between hydrangeas and rhododendrons.

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Then headed off to visit the Dell and on to the Woodland Walk, where we discovered a lovely Buddha and Tibetan Prayer flags.

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The garden is full of winding pathways leading you between trees and shrubs into open spaces where you will find a seat to rest and admire the wonderful views. And the Luce Bay is in the distance – honest!

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Carrying on upwards we make for a summer-house at the top of the garden where you have views down to the Mull of Galloway and even the Isle of Man. There is also an interesting ‘Thinking Rock‘ and more seats from which to contemplate the beautiful surroundings, listen to the birds singing and the gentle buzz of honey bees.

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A beautiful vista – changing hut and diving board

Of course if you go uphill, at some point you need to go back down. There are several routes in this lovely garden to do that. Either take the steps leading to the water garden and stream area with lush plantings of various primula species, hostas and irises, or continue round the back of the shelter and back into the Tree Trail following the edge of the garden where gentler steps will lead to the stream, or simply amble down through the grassy bank and past the Gunnera manicata from Brazil, planted as a massive group where one can walk beneath the canopy and shelter from the rain. Not required today thank you.

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The Water Gardens

Crossing the stream over boardwalks, further steps lead up towards the moorland walk, but we didn’t have time for this today as we wanted to head down the peninsula to Logan Garden, so we headed into the rather boggy area called the Arena Garden, where we found another lochan, a peaceful figure and a colourful and noisy friend.

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Peaceful place to relax and meditate

Exiting the rather boggy Arena Garden we continued around the smaller pond, stopping to read the notice about the Dog grave, before wandering over the link between the two ponds to find a Japanese bridge.

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A last look at the pond and its reflections, then lunch in the tea-room, before heading south.

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Glenwhan Garden is a plantswoman’s garden for all seasons. It  is a peaceful haven with seats placed at strategic viewpoints and paths meandering through the woodland and rock garden with something new around every corner; statues and sculptures, rare plants, exotic shrubs and trees. The ponds are delightful and there is a variety of wildlife, ducks and peacocks, insects and even the chance to see red squirrels.

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More lovely walks can be found over at my friend Jo’s place.