Scot­land’s Gar­dens Scheme – the magic of Mao­lachy

The Oban Times - - Leisure -

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.

Knock Cot­tage

Mao­lachy

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