If I had to name one thing I miss(ed) on Islay it would probably be the presence of a beautiful public garden. Of course there is the community garden in Bridgend which is also very lovely, but that garden serves a somewhat other purpose, although it's a very pleasant garden to walk in. Islay's neighbours, the islands of Colonsay, Jura and even Gigha have beautiful walled and woodland gardens which are open to the public most parts of the year. The absence of a garden however, were my thoughts before we visited the island in May this year. Much to our surprise we found out that Foreland House, part of the Foreland Estate, has very beautiful gardens which were, and still are, open to the public on several days a year. I don't know if this is actually the first year but it was the first time for us that we noticed.
Foreland House and gardens can be accessed from the single track road that leads from Bruichladdich to Kilchoman, after less than a mile on your right. When we were on Islay there was a sign on the main road stating the time and date of opening. Although we have been driving the Kilchoman road many times, and while we were aware of the fact that we were passing Foreland House, we never actually had an idea of how it looked like. All the more reason for a visit, and so we did on a warm and sunny Sunday in May. Continue reading....After you enter the grounds you'll see Foreland House in front of you and the walled gardens on the left, where we parked the car. Our first visit was to the walled garden and it reminded us of Kailzie Gardens in the Scottish Borders near Peebles. One of the reasons for that is that the garden fits perfectly in the surrounding landscape, something the landscapers did very well. We found beautiful flower beds and lovely flowering shrubs in the walled garden. I'm not much of a gardener but I know there are some very special varieties to be found. There was a plant sale as well and from what I heard some of the proceeds go the the RNLI.
Foreland House seen from the garden
From the walled garden we walked to the house and skipped the woodland walk due to a lack of time. The garden of Foreland House and the house itself were a feast for the eye with most of the Rhododendrons in full bloom. You'll find a huge variety in almost any shape, size and colour of these magnificent plants, together with other lovely flowering shrubs and beautiful trees. We learned that Foreland House isn't occupied all year round and from the ooh's and the aah's we found out that all the other people were enjoying themselves very much as well. It's really nice of the owners to give access to these beautiful gardens. If you are on Islay and have the chance, watch out for the sign on the road. Also, this weeks Ileach mentioned that the Foreland gardens will be open on 9 June and 18 June from 12 noon - 4pm.
A colourful welcome in this lovely part of the garden
The beautiful colours from Rhododendrons and other flowers
The flower beds in the walled garden