My Highland Garden

Inverness and the Moray Firth

At 57°47′N, the garden (located in Inverness, the Highlands of Scotland) is on a latitude almost as far North as Juneau, Alaska.  Gardening in the Scottish Highlands comes with a few challenges and some lovely benefits.  The challenges include rain, wind, cold, midges (thankfully not bad here) and long dark winters.  The benefits include long summer nights that don’t get fully dark, incredible wildlife, soil that is just a few grains of sand off being peat and jaw dropping scenery and sunrises/sunsets.

Inverness viewed from the Moray Firth

Inverness is located by the sea (the Moray Firth on the North Sea).  This means it isn’t quite as cold as in the glens and highest mountainous areas like the Cairngorms. I can see the sea from my patio, including dolphin hotspot Chanonry Point.  The sight of the Black Isle and the Firth disappearing into rain or snow means we’ll get soaked in the next 10 or 15 minutes.

Being on the East Coast, Inverness is also drier than Scotland’s West Coast, which is lashed by Atlantic rain.  It is very exposed to the wind though – my garden is particularly open to cold Northerly and Easterly winds that come straight off the sea.

The back garden

June view down the sloping garden

A steeply sloping, East facing garden – there is nowhere that is in full sun and the winds can be biting and damaging.

But located less than a mile from the sea, with a sheltering hedge to the North of the garden, we avoid the very worst of the ice and snow encountered by gardeners just a mile or two further inland.

Still, the temperatures hit -19 both this winter and last, so there are no temperamental tender plants being indulged here!  (Except Fuchsia and Pelargonium cuttings, but they move indoors for winter like part of the family).

The feel of the garden is an informal, cottage garden style – I love to pack the plants in.  The garden is full of wildlife, with visitors including Red Squirrels, Rabbits, Red Kites, Peregrines, bees, butterflies and much, much more.

The patio and plant tents

Patio

A sun trap on a summer morning but exposed to the wind

The patio overlooks the firth, catches the morning sun and is the place where I do my potting work.  Its full of pot plants, baskets and tubs.

In this area I have three plastic tents full of young plants and seedlings. Every year or so the snow or a leaping cat rips the plastic shell of a tent and I have to replace it, but as I have no flat space big enough for a greenhouse I do perfectly well with these.  At least now I’ve learned to weight them down with heavy rocks on the bottom shelves.  I also keep a carnivorous plant in each tent to nibble up bugs, as I don’t use chemicals outside.

Slugs, snails and vine weevils can be pests – I use beer traps to keep the slug numbers down and occasionally nematodes to tackle the vine weevil grubs.

The front garden

front garden

Small but not lacking challenges

The front garden is just about the size of a folded tablecloth – a right angled triangle of about 5 metres by six meres. Until I moved my desk to the window that overlooks it, I rather ignored this patch.  I just filled it full of heather, Crocosmia and lavender and left it to it, just giving the weeping silver birch a brutal haircut every year or so.

But now I look at it every day and it is driving me mad.  I’ve already started pulling things up and hatching plans, so I think this area is going to see some drastic changes this year!

[Progress is now under way on this!  The front garden is now undergoing transformation & is on its way to being an attractive cottage garden.]

The front is typically hotter and sunnier (being West facing), so it is a good place for pots and it is the best hope for sun loving plants.  I tend to put baskets at the front and have some pots I hang onto trellis.  The goal is to make it as bright and cheerful as possible in a very limited space.

5 thoughts on “My Highland Garden

  1. Hello Vicky, I came across your site at Abriachan. I don,t know how Imissed it before. I think your garde looks lovely and you are lucky to have so much wildlife visiting. I too love propagation and have pots and pots of plants and a whole cold frame full of seedlings and cuttings. I’m not always totally successful however…
    You’re obviously a talented photographer as well. Your header photos are stunning.
    Hope you’re going to keep blogging.
    Janet

    • Thank you Janet – I have neglected the blog, just like I have neglected my garden, over the last few months as I have been almost constantly on the road for work. But your comments have cheered me up and motivated me to get back to it!

  2. Hi,

    Lovely to find a garden blog in Inverness; a city very close to my heat which I have been visiting most years of my life.
    Initially we always stayed at Dornoch further north, as I am sure you know and have many fond memories of Dornoch and Embo beach. But for the past 15 years we’ve been staying around Aviemore – usually at Grantown-on-Spey so Inverness is now somewhat closer. I haven’t been for the past three years now and am missing my annual highland fix!

    • Dornoch and Embo beach are beautiful! As is Grantown, though I think the gardening season there is probably a lot shorter than it is here. I know they have frozen ground even longer than we do – the sea is of great benefit! I hope to open my little garden to the odd visitor later this year, so if you’re ever passing….

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