Enchanting garden opens with spring in each step

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Keeping a garden is a labour of love. Hours and hours of precious time, relentless physical work, often in gales and rain. And then, there is the expense.

Sounds like a penance to me. But, in return, gardens give a joyful and bountiful feeling to the people who look after them. They are addicted and I am keen to find out why.

Stuart and Shelagh Cannon of Kames Bay Garden, Kilmelford, are preparing to open to visitors this weekend for charity.

I thought I’d ask them. ‘There is no better salve than sowing a row of carrots after a truly awful day,’ Stuart says. ‘Moving plants around while mopping up the sound of the thrushes turns your frame of mind into a much more agreeable one.’

Gardens provide therapy: a sense of accomplishment that comforts and heals their owners, alleviating worries and burdens, relaxing the mind. All the owners I’ve interviewed say that, so it must be true.

Listening to birdsong is a particular joy for Stuart. ‘The blackbirds are my alarm clock. When an early rise is required, they will rouse me at 5.10am. Except they seem to be bringing it forward now to 4.45am…’

Over the past 37 years, it’s clear Stuart and Shelagh have poured boundless energy into growing things. Transforming scrub and bracken on a lochside hill to a natural, almost wild, 13-acre garden, blending into the contours of the landscape. Full of vibrant colour all year, there are more than 100 varieties of azaleas, rhododendrons, wild primroses, violets, hydrangeas, fuchsia, roses and agapanthus.

It offers the best of both worlds – the beauty of cultivation softening the wild edges of the natural landscape.

Countless places to hide make it a great attraction for children. Visitors can
wander along three lovely walks. A stroll around the pond, home to mallard ducks, will take you past rhododendrons and azaleas in spring, hydrangeas and agapanthus in summer.

Shelagh says: ‘The hydrangea bank was inspired by a visit to Trebah Gardens in Cornwall. We grew them from cuttings.’

The energetic hill walk, you will be surrounded by hazel trees, primroses and violets, culminating a rest stop on the Jubilee bench. The more vigorous woodland walk is steep in places, but you are rewarded by stunning views across to Luing and Lunga.

Kames Bay Garden opens this weekend in aid of Scotland’s Gardens Scheme
and St Columba’s Church, Poltalloch, on Saturday and Sunday, May 4 and 5, from 2pm-6pm. Stuart and Shelagh welcome you to listen to the peace and relax.

Fingers are crossed for a sunny day but, whatever the weather, you’ll experience a heavenly garden, old-fashioned teas and plants for sale. Don’t miss it. Entrance is £4, with children free. Bring sturdy walking shoes.

www.scotlandsgardens.org.