We depart from your local pick-up point and head for Dumfries House, near Cumnock in Ayrshire. Its stunning interiors are home to a world-class collection of furniture by Thomas Chippendale and many late 18th Century cabinet makers, which recently featured on BBC’s Antiques Roadshow.
We continue to the Garden of Cosmic Speculation at Holywood, near Dumfries. The head gardener will give an introduction to this fascinating space, which encompasses 40 areas of gardens, landforms and architecture. Created by Charles Jencks and inspired by science and mathematics, themes such as fractals and black holes inform the sculpture and landscaping. Natural features, artificial symmetry and curves combine elegantly to form a truly unique garden with undulating landforms and terraces; lakes and woodland walks with James Stirling’s “Nonsense Building”; a new greenhouse in the geometric Kitchen Garden of the Six Senses; the Universe Cascade and Rail Garden of the Scottish Worthies.
After our visit, we will travel to our comfortable accommodation at the Holiday Inn Dumfries. All rooms are en-suite.
Today after breakfast we visit Glenwhan Garden, spread out over a windy hilltop with marvellous views of Luce Bay and the Mull of Galloway. Since 1979 the Knotts have made a very large, interesting and individual garden that is filled with good plants. At its heart is an extensive pool, divided by a grassy causeway and fed by a tumbling stream. The slopes above are lavishly planted with trees and shrubs – almost any gardener will find something unfamiliar here.
We shall then visit the world famous Logan Botanic Garden at Port Logan. Port Logan lies in the Mull of Galloway, which juts out into the sea in the extreme south-west of Scotland. The garden was started by the McDougall family who lived here for 800 years, and since 1969 it has been in the care of the Royal Botanic Garden at Edinburgh. Logan Botanic Garden is beautifully laid out, particularly in the walled garden with its fine terraces and well planned borders under an avenue of cabbage palms. The climate here is exceptionally mild and several different habitats provide conditions for a huge range of plants.
Next door are the gardens of Logan House, which were originally part of Logan Botanic Garden. This Victorian woodland garden features champion trees, sweeping lawns and ancient shrubberies, meandering pathways and a majestic monkey puzzle avenue. It also features seven United Kingdom and fourteen Scottish champion trees. Opened to the public in 2002 Logan House has benefited from a programme of replanting and renovation and the results have been very successful.
We return to our hotel where dinner is served in the evening.
This morning after breakfast we visit Broughton House - a fascinating 18th Century house and garden which was home to E A Hornel from 1901 until his death in 1933. During his lifetime he had twice lived in Japan and his experience there influenced many of his paintings. The garden which runs down to the estuary of the Dee also shows the influence of his time in Japan and is always full of colour.
Following this we visit the gardens of the Threave Estate. The gardens have been largely created by students at the School of Horticulture which started here in 1960. Mature woodland of beech, conifers and oaks form the background to a large collection of shrub roses, sweeping mixed borders, dwarf heathers, peat and rock gardens, a walled kitchen garden and superbly maintained glasshouses.
Our last visit of the day will be to the wonderful plantsman’s nursery of Ellenbank, run by Elizabeth and Alasdair MacGregor and their son John. Elizabeth established a wonderful nursery full of cottage garden perennials such as violas, clematis and penstemons.
We return to our hotel in time for dinner.
This morning we check out of our hotel and visit the gardens at Drumlanrig Castle. Surrounded by the 120,000 acre Queensberry Estate, Country Park and grand Victorian gardens, Drumlanrig Castle was completed in 1691 by William Douglas, 1st Duke of Queensberry and is one of the first and most important Renaissance buildings in the grand manner in Scotland. Drumlanrig hit the headlines in 2003 following the audacious theft of the Leonardo da Vinci painting ‘Madonna with the Yarnwinder’ and it was as a consequence of this that formal guided tours of the castle were introduced.
Our final visit is to the Crawick Multiverse, a hidden gem nested in a bowl of rolling hills in the heart of Dumfries and Galloway (Upper Nithsdale). This major new land restoration project on the Duke of Buccleuch’s Queensberry Estate has transformed a former open cast coal mine into a spectacular artland and public amenity and was designed by Charles Jencks, the celebrated landscape architect and author. The ecology of the site, and the materials found within it, inspired its design which is based around space, astronomy and cosmology.
Following our visit we return to our original departure points.