With the mighty Scottish midge the only blight on the landscape at Caol Ruadh in Colintraive, Argyll, this 20-acre estate is a comely mix of native woodland, landscaped gardens, open space and sublime views over the Kyles of Bute. Caol Ruadh, a statuesque late-Victorian house (whose name means "red house on the narrows"), sits at the heart of the park, an unmissable landmark on the Kyles for passing boats.
In the last month, eagle-eyed sailors will have spotted some changes, as the park filled up with contemporary sculpture and outdoor art works. From tomorrow, all of these will be for sale, and the public are welcome to come and view original pieces by 17 of Scotland's leading 3D artists.
The park, which will be open for business until autumn, reopening next May, is the result of a long-held dream on the part of Caol Ruadh owner Karen Scotland and her business partner, Anne Edmonds. The two got to know each other while studying for degrees in landscape architecture at Kingston University. Both had spent the past 20 years designing and working around interiors and gardens.
Scotland and her husband have owned Caol Ruadh since 1998, and the idea for a sculpture garden has taken root slowly. "Anne and I started with the concept of 'if you build, they will come'," she says, "which we adapted from the movie Field Of Dreams, and set about looking for sculptors and installation artists all over Scotland producing work we felt could cope with an outdoor environment.
"It's been an organic thing and word of mouth has played a big part. Talking to one artist would lead us to another. One of the specifications is that the work has to be robust and be able to keep up with the climate. Just the other week, for example, there was a storm which left our boathouse doors the worse for wear – and that was in summer time."
As a result, they have work like Andrea Geile's sculptures made from everlasting Corten steel, often grouped with real plants, and Deidre Nicholls's portraits, cast in bronze. Emma Herman-Smith's giant ground-based Carbon Footprint, which can be seen from the air, is 10.2m long, mirroring the average carbon footprint in the UK of 10.2 tonnes of carbon per household.
Local talent is also well represented. Guy Elder's oak Chaise Longue has one of the best views in Scotland while Andy McClintock's work blends painting sculpture and landscape gardening. Ceramicist Bill Williamson, another Argyll artist, has been creating interventions in the shape of plaques attached to trees.
Scotland can't help using metaphors from nature when it comes to describing this labour of love in this beautiful patch of Argyll. "We are growing into our shoes here," she says. "This is just the start, and we are already looking to next year, imagining installation as well as sculpture. Nothing is fixed. It is an organic process."
A word to the wise: don't forget your wellies and pack the midge repellent.
Caol Ruadh Sculpture Park, Colintraive, Argyll (01700 841357, www.scottishsculpturepark.com) is open from tomorrow until October, Wed-Sun, 11am-6pm (Tue by appointment; closed Mon).