Scotland’s Gardens Scheme – the magic of Maolachy
As you wind your way along the enchanting paths in Maolachys Garden, you would be forgiven for believing in faeries. There is magic at work around every corner.
As you approach the traditional stone farmhouse and courtyard, near Lochavich, the garden is obscured from view. You have no idea what awaits you.
In the early 1970s, Georgina and Tony Dalton began digging paths and planting the wild garden through 6ft high bracken and couch grass. Now the ground is carpeted with bugle, campion and many other wild flowers. They dug steps and paths by hand following the contours of the land and tumbling burn that flows through it.
The ’25 Steps’ were built by willing friends. No lunch till the task was completed. Family skills have constructed bridges and pathways which lead you to surprising places. Past dazzling rhodies and fragrant azaleas, pathways carry you over a peat bog on a raft crafted from the branches and shreddings of a fallen beech tree. Intriguingly, none have an end - except one… Maolachy’s garden is created in a wee glen, over four miles from the nearest village. It feels quite remote. ‘Not everyone would choose to live here. They might not even survive.’ But it’s clear Georgina is more than surviving. ‘I walk in my back door and I feel loved and safe.’ The wildlife feels at home too with log pile houses for insects, warm stone heaps for slow worms, damp clumps for toads and grey-headed wagtails chattering in a nearby nest. ‘My gardening life began to feed the family,’ said Georgina. ‘There is nothing more satisfying than growing edibles. The taste is so special.’ I mumble agreement as my teeth sink into her home-made bread and blackcurrant jam. She laughs: ‘I once fed 11 people on 50 pence. And the 50 pence was for cheese.’
A polytunnel now provides warmth for tender vegetables such as sweetcorn and runner beans, while outside there is good ground for tatties, courgettes and fruit bushes. Georgina’s creative energy and resourcefulness touches everything in this garden. Into its fifth decade, with valuable gardening help from Christopher, she still has big plans. ‘Gardens should be welcoming, warm and peaceful and contain some things you’re not expecting.’
Asked which is her favourite plant, she pauses. Yes, that’s it. A white Ranunculus gifted in a bag of plants by a holidaymaker. Now planted by the pond, it is bearing hundreds of flowers, each one a ball of tightly packed, luminous petals. Together they seem to glow like lanterns.
From its beginnings as a provider of food for the family, Maolachy’s Garden has diversified in size and nature with plants that have been purchased, gathered, divided, propagated, healed, donated and found. Georgina knows a thing of two about growing in Argyll, although she would never say that. ‘I’m always learning,’ she said.
How do you get a Monkey Puzzle in a Skoda? You can ask her your- self. Come to Maolachy’s Garden,
Lochavich, and learn more about this wonderful garden. Open Sat/ Sun May 27/28 1pm to 6pm. Proceeds to Hope Kitchen, Oban. Ignore Satnav. A816 to Kilmelford. Turn uphill to Lochavich after shop. Wind your way for four miles. Look for the yellow signs to Maolachy past the forestry track. Sat/Sun June 3/4 1.30 to 5pm Knock Cottage, Lochgair, PA31 8RZ. Specimen rhodies and shrubs, woodland, waterfall and lochan. Teas. Dogs welcome. Proceeds to Marie Curie and Christchurch Episcopal Church. Sunday June 4 11am to 5pm Fasnacloich, Appin, PA38 4BD. North of Oban, a 15-acre woodland garden in Glen Creran. Water features, rhodies, azaleas, trees from Europe, Asia and the US. Teas. Proceeds to Mary’s Meals. Check www.scotlandsgardens.org or in the Yellow Pages for full details.