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The good news is that there are a few easily accessible and lovely gardens to wander around. The bad news is that in the last few years three terrific gardens that were open to the public (one third of the total within reach) were closed by their new owners who presumably wanted them all for themselves, for the few weeks or maybe just days they are likely to be in residence. The Highland Clearances may be over but not the absentee landlord problem. Bad for Mull (Torosay Castle gardens closed) and bad for Jura (Jura House gardens closed) and slightly bad for Loch Etive (Achnacloich gardens closed except for a few hours on Saturdays). So very many thanks to those owners who are still willing to share their gardens with the public, no doubt at a cost to themselves. There are not many of you left:
Achnacloich gardens on Loch Etive: but open only on Saturdays 10 am to 4 pm.
Ardchattan gardens also on Loch Etive: domestic and peaceful.
Ard Daraich Gardens, Lower Loch Linnhe:
Ardminish Bay, Gigha: Achamore House gardens are spectacular with woodland bits and a walled garden, great trees — well worth the walk from the anchorage.
Ardtornish gardens, Loch Aline: extensive hillside garden with 200+ different rhododendrons.
Asknish Bay on Loch Shuna: Arduaine Gardens owned and nearly closed by the National Trust for Scotland a few years ago, but now saved, probably best in spring for the rhododendrons, lovely water features.
Druimneil Gardens are equidistant from Port Appin/Airds Bay and Glaceriska Bay on Loch Creran. Privately owned, no charge, just leave a donation. Woodland and shrubs mostly.
Easdale: An Cala, small and perfectly formed. Check out the summerhouse pine-cone art.
Gallanach Bay, Firth of Lorne: small and rather delightful garden, tucked away up a track.
Larachmore gardens, Arisaig: unkempt and lovely.
To get to grips with other gardens open to the public in Argyll and Bute go to http://www.gardens-of-argyll.co.uk The1973 film about West Coast gardens in the National Library of Scotland archive is worth a look, it includes Gigha and Colonsay amongst other places.
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A sundial tucked away in Ardchattan gardens