Friends of Crarae Registered Charity SC033244
Friends of CraraeRegistered Charity SC033244

The Forest Garden - a behind the scenes tour

Historic Environment Scotland describes Crarae Gardens as a “Designed Landscape and Inventory Garden” The following is an extract of the key features:


“The gardens at Crarae are developed on either side of the valley of the Crarae Burn. The surrounding landscape is mainly rough hill land and forestry. The soils are a thin layer of gravelly acid loam over impermeable grey glacial clay with pockets of localised mineralised peat which provides the conditions for growing the range of plants found here.


The average annual rainfall is over 75". There are long views from the gardens across Loch Fyne to Castle Lachlan and the Strathlachlan Forest and, behind the garden, Beinn Ghlas is a prominent feature. Outward views are a critical feature of the garden.


The surrounding area is well forested and the gardens are not particularly significant in the landscape.


Crarae Lodge lies in the southern part of the designed landscape overlooking the Burn. The extent of the garden includes the Woodland Garden, the Forest Garden beyond, and the meadows to the east and on the other side of the A83 which were laid out to complement the Lodge and garden when it was rebuilt. The designed landscape at Crarae extends for 126 acres (51ha).


The Forest Garden consists of a large number of experimental forest plots begun in 1932. They were seen as so significant that their management was taken on by the then Forestry Commission from 1957-1980.


The Forest Garden is currently closed to the public. In the long term public access to this special and atmospheric space is envisaged; meanwhile on-going assessment and active management of the most critical stocks eg Picea koyamae are still required.”


One balmy evening in June 2016 Mark Jeffery, the then Head Gardener of Crarae, led a private 'hiking' tour through the Forest Garden at Crarae. The following photographs document our two hour adventure through undergrowth; over and under fallen trees, squelching in bogs and leaping burns and tributaries. If you click on the photographs below I have labelled and dated the trees where we were able to locate the original markers, although unfortunately many of the markers were worn or broken and the trees so massive and closely planted that identification was tough.


Victoria Winters

Friends of Crarae

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