A Rare Scotland Beauty

Posted On December 30, 2009 

Colonsay is an island in the Scottish Inner Hebrides. This island, encompassing an area of 4,074 hectares (15.7 sq mi) is situated north of Islay and south of Mull. The island is strategically aligned on a south-west to north-east axis. The island is the ancestral home of Clan Macfie and the Colonsay branch of Clan MacNeill.

The Colonsay House rhododendron and woodland garden is considered to be one of the finest rhododendron gardens in Scotland. These gardens have the advantage of literally sitting in the lap of one of the most scenic islands in the area. Even though the island is only eight miles long, but it’s picturesque and charming surroundings of sandy beaches, sparkling seas, incredible wildflowers make it almost serene.

The garden was planted mostly in the 1930′s. The garden not only provides a panoramic and scenic view of the rhododendrons, but also of trees and shrubs of exotic species from the southern hemisphere.

woodland gardens

These gardens cover almost 20 acres, and surround the manor of Colonsay House, on the island of Colonsay. The garden is made up of a formal garden area close to the Georgian manor house, and a more informal woodland area further from the house. Very well aware of the brutal Scotland winter, the founder of the garden planted a thick barrier of broadleaved woodland around the gardens as a windbreak. Hence the gardens are sheltered and capable of supporting many interesting and unusual shrubs.

The formal garden offers a colorful feast to the eye. There is a variety of mixed borders, clematis, eucalyptus, myrtle, and magnolias and climbing roses. The mild climate of Colonsay permits a variety of exotic plants to flourish and bloom. There is also a tree planted by King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra during a 1902 visit to Colonsay.These Colonsay Houseformal walled gardens surround Colonsay House in which Alexander Howard, the son of the 4th Lord Strathcona, stays with his wife, Jane, and his young family.

Most of the recent planting are the brainchild of Lord Strathcona.  The woodlands, – tree ferns, Magnolias and some fantastic species of rhododendrons mark the passage of long lost paths. Old gates and ponds pop up suddenly around the corners. As you approach the house, the gardens become more domesticated. Immaculately mown grass terraces and the loggia garden by the house leads into the more recent Lighthouse garden. The most fascinating and captivating feature of the gardens is a small early Christian statue, believed to have been carved way back in the late 7th or early 8th century. This statue is prominiently located to the left of the garden entrance, beside a small pool dedicated to St Oran. In the shape of a cross, this statue has the head of Christ at the top and a fish tail at the bottom. It is said that this statue was found near the ruins of the old chapel at Riasg Buidhe, which is a deserted village a few miles away.

This is a garden with an abundance of horticulture to satiate even the most enthusiastic botanist.

Visitor Information

The private inner gardens and Cafe are open to the public on Wednesdays and Fridays.

The woodland garden is open daily throughout the year, but the formal gardens are open only on Wednesday and Saturday during the summer months.

Organic produce from the gardens can be purchased during the season from our reception centre. They also sell homemade jams and chutneys, as well as their own home grown salad and vegetables.

The Garden Cafe

The café is open for lunch and afternoon teas on Wednesdays from 12 pm to 5 pm and on Fridays for afternoon teas from 2.30 pm to 5 pm.

Delicious home baked goodies and freshly made sandwiches and cakes are available. Most of these products are made using their own organic produce as far as possible.

Getting There

By Railway

From Glasgow Queen Street station, you may take the train to Oban. It takes approximately 3 hours and the ferry terminal is a 5 minutes walk from the railway station

By Plane

From Glasgow airport, you may drive to Oban (2 hours), take the train (3 hours) or take the bus (3 hours). From Oban you take the ferry directly to Isle of Colonsay.

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One Response to “A Rare Scotland Beauty”
  1. Pierce says:

    One of the clean places on earth where there is less population, beautiful places to visit, irish pubs to drink, and its typical scottish music! Marvelleous!

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