Tim Longville, renowned horticultural journalist, had visited Damnaglaur in the mid 1990’s when he went to see John and Enid May’s garden at Ardoch.
Recently he returned to see three gardens at Damnaglaur which will be open with Scotland’s Garden Scheme on 20 July. Enid May joined Tim and garden owners Frances Collins, Carol Rennison and Joy and Colin Hadley as he wandered around them all on what turned out to be another day of glorious sunshine in the South Rhins.
Many changes were found at Ardoch since his last visit as the garden has had a succession of owners with their own ideas. A vegetable garden had taken priority to the detriment of the pruning of trees and shrubs which, left to go their own way, now are needing all the skill and hard work of Joy and Colin who are finding pathways they had not realized existed when they bought the property in September 2013. Colin’s wonderful compost area is testament to the enormous amount of cutting back which has been constant since then. New planting, especially in the recently cleared rockery area, is starting to flourish and there is spectacular planting in the ‘roundabout’ near the entrance to the garden. Some areas will be cordoned off on the ‘open’ day as work is still very much on-going, but visitors to the garden in forthcoming years can look forward to following the progress in this extensive garden. Enid May will be one of those taking a constant interest!
Carol Rennison’s garden at The Homestead is a treat for lovers of wild flowers mixed with perennials and shrubs with the stunning background of Luce Bay and across to the Machars and Galloway Hills. Her vast immaculate lawn, seen and admired by passers-by, ensures this uninterrupted view at the front of the property while, to the side is a vast herbaceous border. An amazing assortment of sea-garnered adornments – driftwood, shells, pebbles and a flower adorned creel – are all artistically arranged along the covered walkway which runs along the back of the property. Carol’s talents also lie in her production of healthy looking vegetables grown alongside sweet peas and nasturtiums. Since she moved to Damnaglaur five years ago she has transformed an empty garden to one of colour and interest, one which has the flowers and foliage to help her with her passion as a flower arranger.
Damnaglaur House garden has matured greatly since Frances last opened it with the scheme, seven years ago and she has made many changes to its planting. The layout remains the same since its landscaping, which started in 1991 and took ten years to complete with her and her husband, Eddy, importing a major number of stones for the dykes to be built around the property and to form a raised bed within the alpine garden. Shrubs have grown ‘beyond my wildest expectations’ owing to the mildness of the winters and despite the searing winds experienced here at most times of the year! Constant cutting back or digging up of these has helped to conserve the series of interlinked ‘areas’ which filter the wind and provide glimpses to the next feature. Tim was impressed by the sight of the Olearia O. Henry Travers, still with some of its purple-centred pale mauve flowers, amongst other wind defeating shrubs, since this one is known to be short-lived. Frances is a great lover of hardy geraniums, loves the colours of the many different varieties of heucheras but is constantly on the prowl for new and exciting plants to add to her already awesome collection!
A couple of days later David Moses, a photographer from Newton Stewart, arrived to take photos of the gardens and their owners, spending many hours recording the sights seen by Tim to go with the article he has produced for inclusion in Dumfries & Galloway Life magazine in the future.
The Damnaglaur Trio of Gardens will be open from 1 – 5pm on Sunday 20 July, entry fee £5. Teas will be served at The Homestead, 40% of the total proceeds will go to Kirkmaiden Church. Plants are to be sold at Damnaglaur House, in aid of the British Red Cross. Follow signs from Drummore towards the Mull of Galloway for one mile to find Damnaglaur.
John and Enid May, amazing plants-people, retired to Scotland after leaving The Knoll Gardens and nursery, in Dorset, which is now owned by Neil Lucas. Since then they have created three more interesting gardens; Enid now lives in Girvan but returns often to visit the many friends she made in Drummore. She will be on hand in Damnaglaur garden to answer any queries on the plants seen there!