Inverness Botanic Gardens

Inverness Botanic Gardens

I’d hoped to take lots of nice pictures showing little nooks around the house with autumn details, and to share them in this blog post. But the living room is currently in a state of disarray as it’s getting a second coat of white paint. So the domestic stuff will have to wait until next time.

Instead, I thought I’d show you some pictures from last weekend.

We went to Inverness - our nearest ‘big’ town (well, it’s technically a city) - although it takes about the same amount of time to get to Fort William. That is, three hours. A long journey. A breathtakingly beautiful journey, and the roads are quiet, but still. We maybe do the trip every 2-3 months and it’s always a bit hectic: stocking up, having a look around at the shops, finding something for lunch, setting off home allowing plenty of time before the light goes. We don’t generally explore very much even though Inverness isn’t a particularly big city despite it being the Highland capital.

We took a different route in this time, to enter Inverness from the north, and set out very early. It takes the best part of an hour to reach the Skye bridge, and once we were on the mainland we went via Strathcarron. The scenery was stunning and we stopped to take some photographs - not for long though, as the midges descended and quite a few managed to get back into the car with us…

Our first stop was at the Botanic Gardens. I hadn’t even been aware they existed until Jay mentioned it a few weeks ago, and I do love a botanic garden. The drizzle had subsided so we ate our sandwiches and went to take a look around, just as the sun began to shine.

I normally like to take dark, moody photos but all of these are sooc (straight out of camera). I haven’t had much time for editing lately as Joe was off school on Monday and Tuesday (staff training) and yesterday I had to collect him at lunchtime as he was ‘ill’. I’m not disputing the fact that he may well have felt a bit off, but there was an awful lot of theatre involved and he miraculously recovered after an hour or so. Which was very annoying but his teachers have now been made aware of his dramatic tendencies…

So yes: bright, clear photos. And I actually don’t mind that here as it was a bright, clear September day to match, with leaves underfoot, rich colours everywhere and early autumn sunlight sloping down through the trees.

I love to get inspiration from gardens. I have a particular fascination with physic gardens - I mentioned the Plants with Purpose area at the castle in my previous post, and I’m passionate about the use of natural and plant-based medicines. In fact, once we get our own garden cleared I intend to have a little area dedicated to healing plants and herbs.

I also love to see ‘working’ areas: kitchen gardens, fruit and vegetable beds. There were lots of clever ideas to borrow, and lots of things for Joe to explore like insect hotels and secret pathways.

The wildflower patches were on the wane, but I do like that whole fading, going-to-seed effect. And it was lovely to see all the apples and pears and plums ripening on the orchard trees…

Being a lover of native plants and wildflowers, I don’t generally rave about exotics. Yet there’s something so interesting and intriguing about them; a meander through the Tropical House in the humidity and dappled light, past a pond filled with goldfish and Koi carp, was a bit of an adventure. Huge leaves and strange forms, dazzling colours and the earthy scent of damp bark and moss, and curving staircases to view it all from above.

One of the best areas turned out to be the Cactus House. It was so light and bright, and the cacti were amazing: some looked like giant pincushions with lethal needles whilst others were more delicate. Blue-greens and soft pinks, woolly coats, serrated edges, fleshy leaves. And my favourites: Aeonium arboreum, those purple-black rosettes which I’ve yet to grow successfully.

Jay took Joe off for a little while so I could look around in peace. And, as it was four years to the day since we lost my mum, I really appreciated that time. She loved gardens too, and walking through the flowers and trees alone with my thoughts, it seemed a fitting way to remember her. Again, once our garden begins to take shape I’m going to make a quiet little corner planted out with her favourites - somewhere to just be still and think, or to read a book.

There’s something very special about visiting these places. Inspiration, contemplation. Exploring and discovering and just being in the moment, surrounded by beautifully-tended flowers and plants, following paths to the next surprise, finding peace and quiet and solitude, even if it’s fleeting.