We have just been on a seven day trip to Scotland. Going away from home and seeing other gardens gives you a new perspective on your own garden when you return. One has to remember that they have a completely different climate, different seasons, and very often an awe inspiring landscape to fit the garden into. We started off staying with Dianey Binney’s youngest daughter, who in face of great adversity, very late frosts, wind and rain, has created a charming garden at Glenkyllachie which is just south of Inverness, and I could truthfully say in the middle of nowhere. The house has stunning views through french windows on every side. Emma and Philip Mackenzie have made a reasonable size pond, with ducks, and small hills behind it. There is mixed herbaceous planting all around it, and Emma seems to have virtually no help. I remember three Monet style red bridges which in those surroundings seem to fit in much better than down south. There seems to be much more use of garden sculpture than we have round us. I made a few suggestions in plants to Emma which I will be interested to see if she takes up. We went to Cawdor Castle one day, and then when staying with Anna Buxton in Edinburgh went to Little Sparta, and Robert Dalrymple’s garden at Broadwoodside. This was a series of rooms taking full advantage of its surroundings, with many well placed sculptures. There were several very attractive stone walls. Anna’s own garden is in a town house in Edinburgh and full of very interesting plants, with something to see all the year round. When we were at Little Sparta we saw a stone bench, very simple, which is exactly the same as what we have at home, and which could be improved with a Latin or Greek inscription. I think I need to turn to either of my two sons for help as they are both Latin scholars. I think a lot of Little Sparta went over my head, but what I really loved was large pieces of stone placed in the landscape about three quarters of the way round it.
When I got home I think what I really loved was all the colour in the borders. and the bottom of the garden which is just starting to come into its own, with the dahlias in the par terre, and the autumn border. I felt refreshed, and a few new ideas were coming to the surface! I think that is what you should feel when you go away.