Why Should We Visit?
Ardtornish Estate covers 35,000 acres of the Morvern peninsula. The house sits at the head of a huge, U-shaped bay on the shores of Loch Aline and the wooded slopes surrounding, which include 500 acres of native trees, are home to a bunkhouse for walkers and a number of comfortable holiday cottages. A local hydro-electric system has recently been developed to supply the cottages, the house, which is often used as a wedding venue, and the wider estate with renewable energy.
Story Of The Garden
The gardens at Ardtornish extend to 28 acres, which were laid out during the Victorian era, when up to 12 gardeners were employed to care for them. At that time new plants were arriving from overseas and large areas of Ardtornish were planted with rhododendrons, azaleas and cinnabarinums. Today the gardens and the estate’s farms are maintained to the highest environmental standards and provide food for the house, visitors and the local community.
In 2015 work began on the neglected kitchen garden. Weeds were cleared, drains replaced, walls, beds and paths restored and replanting begun. Now the kitchen garden is once more a productive space, producing an abundance of seasonal fruits, vegetables and flowers from its borders and polytunnels. As many as seven different varieties of potatoes are grown here, along with cabbage, kale, salads and broccoli. Flowers are grown in a 16-metre long cutting patch, with sweet peas, kanutia, cosmos, sunflower and Penstemons amongst the mix. The kitchen garden is open year-round and produce is sold in the estate shop.
A number of formal lawns around Ardtornish have recently been converted into wildflower meadows. In spring the first flowers begin to appear and the grass is allowed to keep growing until August, when the seeds that will produce next year’s flowers, have fallen. Paths are strimmed through the long grass and the edges of lawns are still kept short, but the change in maintenance has helped to encourage pollinators.
Anything Else To Look Out For?
The Ardtornish Estate is rich in wildlife. It borders the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Rahoy Hills Nature Reserve and amongst the species that flourish here are white tailed sea eagles, wild cats, otters, golden eagles, pine martens and red deer. Walks through the estate and the reserve offer many opportunities to see wild birds and animals, while boat tours offer the chance of spotting whales, seals, dolphins, porpoise and basking sharks.
Best Time To Visit
In spring, the wild flowers and colourful shrubs that cover much of Ardtornish are in flower, making April and May some of the most exciting times to visit the estate. As the season progresses the hazel woodlands start to turn green, while the huge range of ferns and lichens that grow beneath them are worth exploring at any time of the year.
Any Recommendations In The Area?
From nearby Lochaline it is a short hop by ferry to the island of Mull, with its wild landscapes and the brightly-painted shops and houses of Tobermoray. Iona, burial place of kings, can be reached from the west side of Mull.
From the Corran Ferry, turn left onto the A861. Twelve miles on take the A884 and continue for 15 miles then follow the signpost to Ardtornish.
Gardens open Monday and Tuesday – 8am-6pm. Kitchen garden open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday – 9am-5pm
Tel: 01967 421288
Kinlochlaich Gardens and Garden Centre in Appin occupies a unique, octagonal walled garden, which was built in the 18th century.
Bluebells grow in abundance here and a walk has been developed through the trees to allow visitors to enjoy the beauty of spring and the autumn colour that arrives later in the year.
There’s a thriving fruit and vegetable garden, with figs and grapevines, and in spring a huge Rhododendron falconeri makes a fine spectacle.
A large polytunnel allows production of edibles to continue all year round, while outdoors, fan-trained apple, plum and peach trees grow around the walls.
The garden centre specialises in growing magnolias, rambling roses, camellia, crinodendrons and other species that thrive along the west coast and in spring and summer there are bedding plants and vegetable seedlings for sale.
Kinlochlaich Garden Centre