Sunday, 30 April 2017

A magical place

As our holiday cottage is on the edge of the gardens of Colonsay House, there is daily opportunity to roam through the woodland area, which is open to the public.  

There is some industry in the wood, tree felling and a collection of beehives on the north east perimeter.  Over the years, though, the gardens have become a bit of a wilderness, but with that comes a mysterious and magical atmosphere.  Moss encrusted dry stone walls with tumbling coloured ribbons of fallen blossoms, the exotic patterns on the cinnamon-barked myrtles, old and twisted branches weaving their way along overgrown paths, outsized rhododendron leaves, smelly American skunk cabbage, prehistoric-looking gunnera, and ethereal skeleton leaves.  I can't get enough of it, and the dogs enjoy it too.  Lots of new smells!
Same bloom, three days later

Sunday's smelly offering

An American skunk-cabbage, Lysichiton americanus!  Well named because it does emit a pretty unpleasant smell, but it grows here luxuriously, alongside the fast moving stream which runs through the gardens of Colonsay House.  A spectacular plant to look at, but you wouldn't want it in a small garden.  However, sited a very long way from your outside seating area, and its a winner!

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Saturday's grande flower

The gardens of Colonsay House were laid out during the 1930s.  Covering over 20 acres, much of the garden is woodland, with an impressive collection of rhododendrons.  The gardens were neglected for many years and it must be quite a task to reclaim them, but bit by bit the owners are getting there.  There are areas where today's flower, rhododendron grande, Rhododendron argenteum, make you feel as though you have landed in a world of giants.  The leaves are ginormous.  I laid a beech leaf in the middle of one of last year's leaves, to give a sense of proportion.  It is slightly bonkers.

The other book festival

The timing of our holiday on Colonsay is to coincide with the island's Book Festival.  In its sixth year, to my mind, it comes a close second to the Borders Book Festival, where I work in the bookshop.
To step out of the venue to be greeted with this view - well, it knocks spots off the Edinburgh Book Festival!
Today, I went to listen to Sue Townsend, cookery writer and novelist.  She is a delightful lady and certainly has my respect, having been the winner of the second year of Masterchef, back in the days of Lloyd Grossman.  Unfortunately, this afternoon, I was sitting behind Scottish novelist Alexander McCall Smith (who I am going to hear tomorrow), and he is quite a solid chap, so as he moved about, I was ducking back and forth, trying to keep the speaker in view.  At least I won't have that problem tomorrow!