Crarae Glen Garden
Crarae Glen Garden occupies a marvellous site in a precipitous mountain glen beside Loch Fyne, from which there are wonderful views from high on the estate.
The garden was given to the Crarae Garden Charitable Trust by Sir Ilay Campbell Bt whose grandparents had come to live here in 1904. It was his father, Sir George, a cousin of the great plant hunter Reginald Farrer, who had the greatest influence on the garden. The site was already well clothed with ancient Scots pines and larch which gave shelter from prevailing westerly winds to the subsequent immensely diverse plantings of rarer trees and shrubs. The rainfall is very high but the effect of the Gulf Stream and North Atlantic Drift is only modest; however many tender trees, especially those from the southern hemisphere like the many eucalyptus, have done extremely well. The great Asiatic flowering shrubs – azaleas, camellias, magnolias and rhododendrons – are well represented, but there are choice collections of many other groups: several species of the southern beech (Nothofagus), excellent rowans, some lovely examples of styrax and much else. Crarae with its rocky burn is worth visiting in any season, there is always a piquant contrast of exotic introductions in a natural Scottish setting of special beauty.
The original trust joined the National Trust of Scotland in 2002. With over 400 different rhododendrons and azaleas in 50 acres of garden, spring and summer abound with colour. Yunnan rhododendrons, grown from seed brought back by Reginald Farrer, are said to be found in the garden. As the seasons progress the many flowering shrubs from around the world change the garden’s mood daily. Autumn is especially colourful thanks to the superb variety of deciduous trees.
Interestingly, the garden reveals a ruined burial chamber and part of the forecourt of a cairn built about 4,500 years ago, at a time when metal was neither known nor used.