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Enchantment on the Isle of Mull
I think many of us reach a stage in our lives where we want to experience more than the splendor that
America offers. This is the frame of mind I found myself in while celebrating my sixtieth birthday. I felt the
call of adventure and the necessity to be a modern day Nelly Bly. You might recall the historical
notoriety of Nellyâ€™s greatest adventure in 1899 when she set out to break the record of Jules
Verne's hero in Around The World in Eighty Days. She made it in seventy-two days, six hours and ten
minutes! The last lap of her trip was on a private train from San Francisco to New York, where she was
met by brass bands at every stop.
I certainly didnâ€™t expect brass bands and must admit that my adventures were a little tamer than
Nellyâ€™s, but I did have some interesting experiences while touring gardens in Scotland and
England. Do join me in my latest adventure with my final destination being the Findhorn Community on
the Isle of Erraid.
The Most Haunted
Castle in Great Britain
While I was in Queensferry, I decided to
drive Passion to Chillingham Castle on
the Scottish border. I had gone there on
a previous journey and toured the
gardens. During that visit, I had the
pleasure of meeting Sir Humphry and
the Honorable Lady Wakefield, whose
ancestors, the Grey family, have lived in
the castle since the thirteenth century.
The castle itself is the epitome of what I
think a castle should look and feel like. I
was able to envision the carts, horses,
open fire pits, and jovial camaraderie of
soldiers and travelers in the huge
cobblestone inner courtyard.
Floors Castle in Kelso
I awoke the next day at Chillingham Castle to typical wet English weather and departed with Passion for a day trip to Wigtownshire
to tour the Logan Botanic Gardens. The drive through the countryside was magnificent, and on the way to my destination I
stopped at Floors Castle in Kelso. This palatial home, originally built between 1721 and 1726 by William Adam, is the home of the
Duke and Duchess of Roxburghe. Itâ€™s the largest inhabited mansion in Britain, replete with turrets, chimneys and castellations,
and was the setting for the film, Greystone. I availed myself of their small ground level restaurant, purchased their home cooked
and nicely packaged lunch complete with a floral rice paper napkin, and strolled into the walled garden.
The photographs you see here attest to the beauty of Floors Castle, a place that employs a staff of ten gardeners. I particularly
enjoyed the espalier artistry of the many varieties of fruiting trees along the walls. This garden is tucked away to the west of the
castle, and itâ€™s said that Queen Victoria took tea here during her visit in 1867.Â Many of the same great gardening traditions
remain, and flowers for the main house are still cut from the packed herbaceous borders. Ornamental borders also coexist
alongside the soft fruit and vegetable beds surrounding the peach glass house, and perhaps the most remarkable features of the
garden are the original Victorian iron poles dripping with huge swags of crimson American pillar Rambling Roses and purple
Clematis. Beneath the tunnel of color and scent great swathes of Grasses, Lupines, Geraniums, Campanulas and Euphorbias
blow in the breeze, creating an appealing color palette. I noticed that Acaena â€˜Kupferteppichâ€™ flowed across the paving in
front of one of the glass houses, and I pictured how pretty it must look in the summer with its coppery green foliage and red thistle-
like small flowers.Â
The castle grounds offer magnificent views over the River Tweed and a
large formal walled garden with a great deal of recent planting. I was
particularly impressed with the use of favorite plantings in unusual ways
in the walled garden, for example, the use of Goldenrod in profuse
clumps to set the tonal qualities of yellows and silver blues. In the
photograph below, the foreground is the bright daisy-like Coreopsis
grandiflora, followed by successive waves of Solidago â€˜golden wingsâ
€™ and Echinops bannaticus. Overhead is a rope swag of bright red
Roses. Gertrude Jeykll originated the use of roping for Rose swags to
mark off garden areas.
Continued on Next Page link below
The photograph above displays colorful drifts ofÂ burgundy and bright
red Dahlias, interspersed with the hairy foliage and daisy-like golden
globes of Helianthus and the tall candlestick blooms of Eremurus bungei.Â
Varieties of Roses, Clematis, and Honeysuckle were trained on wires
along the brick walls as espaliers and formed interesting patterns of light
and dark. Euonymus alatus was trained as a tall hedgerow in one part of
the garden. Its brilliant red foliage is highlighted by golden Rudbeckia,
planted in drifts at its feet.
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Findhorn Page I
I like to fly into Edinburgh for these gardening adventures because of the small airport and the general cleanliness of the
place. Also, I have a friend with a bed and breakfast nearby in Queensferry. I enjoy riding in the glass-top tier of the double decker
bus to Enterprise to pick up my smart car, and I love the scenery of the cobblestone streets, roundabouts and very early stone
architecture. The smart cars in Europe all have nametags proudly installed on the doors. The last one I rented was aptly named,
Passion. It was quite comfortable and roomy enough for one adventurer.
I always manage to accomplish these trips on a tight budget and still have fun. Visiting friends and staying a few days here
and there takes care of the problem of accommodation and exorbitant fees. I consider the rental car an indispensable expenditure
that allows me the freedom to travel willy-nilly wherever I want to go, which is usually off the beaten path. I love the challenge of
driving a standard shift vehicle on the left side of the road as opposed to the right. Do you realize that even the seating and shifting
are the opposite of ours? However, I digress. Let me return to my last trip overseas when my ultimate destination was the Isle of
Erraid and the Findhorn Community living on this granite island.
The courtyard is accessed through huge oaken doors and a wide cobble ramp with enough room for the horses and coaches to
enter. The Great Hall just off the courtyard is an Elizabethan chamber. It has a typical stone flagged floor and is decorated with
tapestries, suits of armor, weapons and the antlers of deer and wild cattle. The place has a rare quality, having survived all those
years since the courtly days of old.
Chillingham Castle is reportedly one of the most haunted castles in England. It has persisted through great sieges and
hosted many kings, from Henry III in 1255 and Edward I in 1298 to the Prince of Wales in 1872 and present day members of the
royal family. On this my second visit to Chillingham, I found that Lady Wakefield had carried off a successful restoration of a formal
parterre that was installed in the early part of the nineteenth century. The beds are all box edged, designed after Italian gardens
from the same period and are a rare example of landscape design from 1828. Theyâ€™re the work of the royal garden designer,
Sir Jeffrey Wyatville, an English architect and garden designer who was fresh from his royal triumphs at Windsor Castle.Â The
famous herbaceous border here is the longest in Northern England, and when I visited, Lady Wakefield, secateur in hand, Wellies
on her feet, and a sweater to ward against the wind, was hard at work trimming it.Â Despite their titles, these people are regular
folks, and Sir. Humphry is quite a raconteur and loves to tell stories about the border wars and the famed herd of white cattle at
Amazing Spaces that Inspire and Delight
A mostly non-fictional accounting of my latest adventure. I write with copious delight and a heart and soul that belongs to the
Torwood (Torwoodhead) Castle is a ruin
near the village of Torwood, in the Falkirk Council
area of central Scotland. It was built for Alexander
Forrester by the Lords Forrester, who supplied the
Crown with timber and were in charge of a royal
hunting area. Built in 1566 and considered a
Scottish Baronial style castle, Torwood was once the
seat of Clan Forrester.
A local, Gordon MacLachlan Millar, worked the
last 40 years of his life renovating the stonework.
The Castle is now under the care of the Torwood
Although the castle is not open to the public, it can be enjoyed by the public for photography and walks around the
mainbuildings and inside the ruined walls.
I want to thank Stirlingshire native, Bergie Bigheid for allowing me to post his video here. It is my opinion that this video not
only introduces Torwood Castle, but also celebrates the mood of Scotland with it splendid music and mood imagery.