Attadale, Strathcarron, Wester Ross IV54 8YX

Attadale Garden sits on the edge of Loch Carron and from the hillside behind the house there are spectacular views westwards towards Skye. This is one of the west coast’s most celebrated gardens and at this time of year, when the rhododendrons are in full flower, it is also one of the most colourful.

Some of the species rhododendrons here were grown from seed collected by famous Edwardian plant hunters and recent severe pruning has rejuvenated them, restoring their vigour and performance. These will soon be followed into flower by hundreds of scented azaleas and by the time these are in bloom Attadale’s famous water gardens will also be starting to perform.

The water gardens were created as a response to severe storms in the 1980s that brought down many trees and today the canals, with their dense ribbons of lush, streamside plants, are one of the gardens most recognisable features.

These plants, which include Rodgersia, Astilbe and many different kinds of Primula, have become even more floriferous since much of the invasive Rhododendron ponticum that had colonised the woodlands has been removed, allowing more light to reach flowers at ground level.

The Herald: Attadale Attadale (Image: free)

Rhododendron ponticum is native to Portugal and northern Spain, where it is a well-behaved plant, but in Scotland’s mild and wet climate this vigorous shrub, with purple flowers, has become invasive and many gardens have had to dedicate time and resources to removing it.

Maintaining a mature garden sometimes calls for drastic decisions and amongst these have been the removal of some of the many trees that were planted in the 1990s and were in danger of becoming overcrowded. Now that these have gone, many wildflowers that had lain dormant for decades have now started to bloom again and have added to the annual flowering of the primroses that flourish in the moist conditions.

Constant reinvention is one of the themes at Attadale and one of the newest creations is a cut flower garden where annuals are raised for the house and for holiday cottages on the estate.

Elsewhere there are statues and sculptures and a giant sundial that marks the hours on bright, west coast days and a conservatory filled with tender plants.


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Attadale has been in the care of the MacPherson family for three generations and each one has put its own stamp on it. As well as many Himalayan shrubs there is also a Japanese garden, a newly-revamped sunken garden and a geodesic dome that houses tender tree ferns.

Despite its location, Attadale draws visitors from around the world and since the development of the West Coast 500 touring route, many more people have discovered its delights. However you don’t need a car to get here. Attadale sits on the train line from Inverness to Kyle-of-Lochalsh where a gate on the platform leads directly into the gardens.

A helpful guidebook providing details of the development of Attadale and of its plants is available for sale from the ticket booth and the famous Midge Bite cafe from Achnasheen operates a DIY facility in the garden.

Details: Attadale Gardens are open daily, 10am - 5pm.

Tickets: £10/free (under 16s) Tel: 07860 403605

In association with Discover Scottish Gardens