June 12 Threave Reunion Castle Douglas.
Annie and I had a welcome return to Galloway. The National Trust for Scotland celebrated fifty years of training young men and women to be practical gardeners by presenting an excellent programme of activities at Threave. We travelled from far and wide to meet old friends and make new ones. It was great to see Bill Hean, the founder Principal, looking hale and hearty and enjoying the occassion. Daughters Alison and Isobel were also in good form and are bigger than they were when some of us were students! Then they were bonnie wee girls.
The gardens looked great. In fact many commented that they had never seen them look so good. A credit to staff and current students who did all the hard graft leading up to the celebrations. Threave has all the quality which you would expect of a national garden and is a centre of excellence. Maybe one day it will get more recognition as it certainly deserves it. If you have not visited Threave please do so and you will not be dissappointed.
Threave Castle is close by set on an island on the river Dee. Cared for by Historic Scotland the place is worth a visit. Just ring the bell and the boatman will come over and ferry you across. He will will even bring you back if you are good. There is a lot to see including birds and wild flowers as well as the Black Douglas's stronghold.
Castle Douglas or CD as it is locally known is an attractive wee market town about one and half miles from Threave. It is a food town as well as an important Market town. Have a look around. There are a number of Butchers and also Bakers shops to peruse. I challenge you to do so whithout buying some of the lovely produce on display.
The reunion was a success and Sheila Innes and her team at Threave are to be congratulated on creating this memorable event. If you are a past student and did not get an invitation please send your details to Sheila who will add you to the list for future reunions.
Left. Bill Hean and Annie Sutherland.
June 10 Cluny House near Aberfeldy
What a fabulous day. The sun shone and it was balmy and warm. We stopped at the Allium Garden Centre Tea Room, Ballinluig, for 11's. Everyone had a really good day.
John Mattingley kindly gave our party a guided tour of the garden set on a hillside. His sense of humour and skill at explaining botany to lay people made this a special experience.
Even the mechanics of recycling weeds and autumn leaves to produce top quality compost which is used in the garden was interesting. Even to the uninitiated.
We saw rare poppies – the names will be added later. We saw a “Champion Tree” a giant redwood, Sequodendron giganteum, which has a record girth. We were advised not to punch these trees as this can affect their measurement in years to come. Well we have been punching these trees all over the place (Benmore, Dawyck etc.) and now it will stop!
A wee cup of coffee at the Watermill Book Shop, Aberfeldy, rounded off our day quite nicely.