On a cloudy but dry August 21st, we set out on our penultimate garden visit of the year, stopping at Uplawmoor Hotel for coffee and scones, then on to our first visit of the day to High Fulwood garden near Stewarton in Ayrshire, owned by Mr & Mrs Illsley who welcomed us most warmly and after informing us of what we were about to see, left us to wander freely though always on hand to answer any questions
High Fulwood consisted of four acres, two being of fairly young deciduous native trees and the beginnings of a stumpery, one acre of mature garden with a multitude of rhododendrons, azaleas, hellebores and various primula. It was thought that in spring would be a great time to visit as this acre of garden would be a riot of colour.
The third acre consisted of an orchard with trees hanging with, not quite ripe, plums and apples, various herbaceous borders with late summer plants still showing off their blooms.
The vegetable garden was to be greatly admired, with broad, french and runner beans, three different types of peas, kale, carrots, swede, cabbage, in fact as John stated “We are completely self-sufficient here in the winter months”, and as being vegetarian they exist on soup from their garden produce and home made bread."
They each work ten hours in the garden from November to March and in spring and summer, from sun up till sundown and the result of their labours is a beautiful productive garden
Onwards again for lunch at the Fenwick Hotel in Fenwick of all things, which although only supposed to be soup and sandwiches, turned out to consist not only of them, but scones, (yes, more scones) danish pastries and three types of traybake, a veritable feast. A little snooze wouldn't have gone amiss, however, onwards to our next garden, Barnweil Garden, near Kilmarnock.
Barnweil Garden is owned by Mr & Mrs Ronald Alexander, who began this beautiful garden in 1972, painstakingly transforming the clay soil to a tilth to be proud of, using horse manure, ash and compost in two layers to get beautiful soil.
Mr Alexander escorted us through his woodland garden full of mature trees, rhododendrons, azaleas, mecanopsis japonica and primula, while pointing out things of interest. After crossing a little bridge over the recently made pond, the woodland opened out to the herbaceous border at the side and front of the early 19th century house which was originally a farm and was skilfully converted into a beautiful home.
The border contained roses (mostly bought from David Austin), iris, dahlias, geraniums, poppies and an unknown plant with burgundy flourish which they and we couldn't identify, we needed our expert plant identifier, Irene Hudson, who would probably have known it at once!
Afternoon tea, coffee, cake and biscuits were enjoyed by all. Barnwell was another garden well worth a visit in the earlier part of the year.
Home then on our bus (with very full tums, as we had eaten our way around the day) driven as usual by our excellent driver Sean, arriving back at our appointed time.