Sunday, 27 July 2014

Dunvegan Castle, Skye

Dunvegan Castle is built on a rocky outcrop which was once entirely encircled by the sea. It has commanding views down the Loch and is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland. The castle has been the ancestral home of the Chiefs of Clan MacLeod for over 800 years.
There are no photos allowed in the castle but it has many fine paintings and clan treasures. One of the most famous being the Fairy Flag which according to legend states that when unfurled in battle the clan MacLeod would invariably defeat their enemies. The flag is said to have originated as a gift from the fairies to an infant chieftain; a gift to a chief from a departing fairy-lover; a reward for defeating an evil spirit. Clan chieftains and fairies! - what a strange and curious juxtaposition?
In contrast to the austere appearance of the castle the gardens were overflowing with intense colours and a huge variety of flowers both rare and exotic. This is due to the warmth from the Gulf Stream running down the western side of Scotland and the purity of the air and water.
lilium Pardalinum - Tiger Lily
We have several different Turk's cap lilies in our garden, pink, orange, yellow and white. If I can locate a Pardalinum bulb then this beauty will be joining them
Portree is the largest town on Skye - the pretty harbour has a pier designed by Thomas Telford. The Royal Hotel is the site of MacNab's Inn which was the last meeting place of Flora MacDonald and Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1746. 
Flora by Allan Ramsay

This portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie was discovered in the last few months and is also by Allan Ramsay
The Cullins

Road to the Isles
The far Cuillins are pullin' me away
As take I wi' my cromack to the road.
The far Cullins are puttin' love on me 
As step I wi' the sunlight for my load.

A cromack is a shepherd's crook or stick
A final backward glance at the Cuillins and then 
 onwards to catch the ferry from Skye to the outer Western Isles of North Uist, Benbecula, South Uist, and Eriskay

Thursday, 24 July 2014

The Western Isles - Scotland

 Eight islands in the Hebrides visited
by air
and land

We flew to Edinburgh, travelled north to the Kyle of Lochalsh, and crossed the sea bridge from the Scottish mainland to Skye. 
We encountered traffic jams along the roads
and curious looks from the locals
A profound sense of remoteness 
peace and quiet
and timelessness
stunning scenery

A unique culture
and ancient history

Monday, 14 July 2014

July Garden

Catalpa bignonioides "Aurea" - Golden Indian bean tree - a favourite tree - medium sized deciduous tree bringing luminescent sunlight into the garden
Callistemon citrinus 'Splendens' bottlebrush shrub - not supposed to survive severe winters in the UK but this plant is a teenager and has always lived in the garden. The leaves give off a lemon scent when crushed 
Almost collapsing under the weight of its blossom 
Have you ever noticed the pretty, plush, purple, pods that tiny lavender flowers pop out of?
Evening sunlight producing a pink tinge to the lavender
Containers of mixed flowers in the porch - unsophisticated, and gaudy but welcoming
Papaver somniferum - Opium poppies
Meconopsis cambrica - Welsh poppies
All the poppies above are self seeded
However, that is not the case with these dainty French Poppies only just beginning to open. Each one has a different centre and delicate tissue paper like petals ranging in colour from purest white through many variations on the pink spectrum to red.  Their seeds arrived in my garden from the beautiful island of Öland in Sweden courtesy of lovely Titti
Thank you Titti I am thrilled with them
Not sure which Clematis this is, it was labelled 'Nelly Moser', but isn't. I actually prefer this to Nelly
Lots of planters full of last summers Geraniums - no need to buy any this year, this is the first time I can recall them all surviving the winter outside 
I am pleased with my packet of "kiss me quick" morning glory seeds. They are turning up in a variety of shades from palest pink and blue to dark magenta and indigo