When Osgood Mackenzie placed rabbit and deer fencing around an unpromising headland in Loch Ewe in 1862 there was just one tree, a three foot high dwarf willow, within the boundaries he had selected.
The Gaelic name of the peninsula near Poolewe that became Inverewe was Am Ploc Ard: "the high lump"; and it was free of any decent soil and completely exposed to every gale sweeping in off the Atlantic. All it had to offer was some thin acidic peat, and large amounts of crumbly rock.
The only good card dealt by nature to Inverewe was the proximity of the Gulf Stream, the flow of warm water accompanied by relatively warm air sweeping across the Atlantic from the Mexican Gulf and whose chosen landfall includes this part of Western Scotland. Which all just goes to show what determination, imagination, and no small amount of money can achieve. Soil was carried in by basket, vast numbers of trees were planted for shelter and very, very slowly, Am Ploc Ard became Inverewe: a bare rocky headland was transformed into the Eden that visitors find today.
Osgood Mackenzie continued to work on the garden until his death in 1922, by which time his achievements would have been obvious, and its development was continued by his daughter, Mairi Sawyer. In 1952, a year before her death, she gave Inverewe Garden and an endowment for its future upkeep to the National Trust for Scotland. (Continues below image...)
What in 1952 was an extremely remote place has become steadily less so as the road network in North-West Scotland has been steadily improved and as car ownership has increased. As a result visitor numbers have increased dramatically.
Inverewe feels like - and is - a very large garden. Although the size of the car, coach and caravan parks show that it can at times be very popular indeed, it is possible for a large number of people to enjoy the gardens without getting in one another's way. Visitors will also find an excellent Visitor Centre containing a large gift shop and one of the best bookshops in Northern Scotland, plus a large cafe housed in an attractive building at the north end of the car park.
Everyone visiting Inverewe Garden will have their favourite areas. The most striking on entering is the large, curved, walled garden, reclaimed from the beach by Osgood Mackenzie. This is the most formal part of the Inverewe and beyond it the going gets steadily more natural in appearance, culminating in the viewpoint at the tip of the point. From here you are treated to magnificent views across and along Loch Ewe, and to a very nice and unusual angle on the village of Poolewe.
Back in the heart of the garden you can choose between the Bambooselem, towards the highest point; or the rock garden, almost on the shoreline below Inverewe House.
Other distinct areas include the pond garden and the associated wet valley; "America" reflecting the origins of the plants growing there; the two herbaceous borders; and the stunning Scots and Corsican Pines in the woodlands.
Whichever route you take around the garden, and however long you take, you will find this an enjoyable place that amply repays your efforts in getting to know it.