An Cala 96

Easdale, Scotland

Brief Description

An Cala is a small mid-20th-century plantsman's garden created on steep ground with views over an island-studded seascape. It is surrounded by hedges, woodland and walls and comprises formal terraces, a terraced rose garden enclosed by yew hedges, streamside plantings and woodland gardens.

History

The garden inherited by Lieutenant Colonel and Mrs Murray in 1930 consisted of several sycamore trees and a willow. Over the next ten years they designed and planted up the gardens together. After Mrs Murray died in 1942 her husband drew up plans of the garden and plantings, one of which is kept in the potting shed. In 1950 Colonel Murray sold the property to his friends, Captain and Mrs Blakeney. The current owners, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Downie, have looked after the garden since 1986.

Visitor Facilities

The gardens are open daily from April to October, 10am to 6pm.

Detailed Description

The seashore garden at An Cala sits in an exposed position backed by its surrounding arc of cliff and further sheltered by hedges, woodland and a grey brick wall about 4.5 metres high. This protection and the warming effects of the Gulf Stream enable tender exotics such as Drimys winteri and Crinodendron hookerianum to be grown.

Although a small garden it has a distinctive character due to its situation, the continuity of management since the 1930s and the artistic input of those who created and have since taken care of the garden.

A stream runs as a thread through An Cala, tumbling in a waterfall over the cliff, then meandering through the garden into pools and under bridges. Along its banks are streamside plantings of hosta, ferns, iris, primula and other species.

A coniferous shelterbelt underplanted with evergreen shrubs occupies the escarpment above the garden and shrubberies of rhododendron, azaleas and other shrubs also run along it to the east. The sloping site has been managed by constructing terraces. A terraced rose garden is planted with hybrid tea roses and floribundas and is the setting for a summerhouse. Low-walled terracing below the house is richly planted with mixed herbaceous plants, alpines and sub-shrubs and there is a rockery around the pool.

The planting beds and borders are set off by lawns, one of which is home to late spring flowers such as camassias and orchids. A group of cherry trees planted here commemorates the succession of George VI in 1937.

The following is from the Historic Environment Scotland Gardens and Designed Landscapes Inventory. For the most up-to-date Inventory entry, please visit the Historic Environment Scotland website:

http://portal.historic-scotland.gov.uk/hes/web/f?p=PORTAL:DESIGNATIONS:0

Type of Site

A plantsman's and seaside garden incorporating formal gardens, woodland garden and walks and woodland shelterbelt.

Location and Setting

An Cala lies on the B844 at the east end of Easdale Village on the Island of Seil about 16 miles (25.5km) south-west of Oban. The gardens nestle into the base of the rocky outcrop of An Crianan which forms the back bone of Seil Island. The shallow soils overlying the granite rock have been augmented by quantities of topsoil (over 2,800 tons) and many years of mulching, especially with seaweed. Although the site is warmed by the Gulf Stream, the strong Atlantic winds batter it, particularly from the north-west and south-west. From the upper part of the garden, there are extensive views across the Firth of Lorne to the Islands of Islay, Jura, Scarba, and the Garvellachs known as 'the Isles of the Sea'. It is one of the most beautiful seascapes in Scotland. The conifers planted along the escarpment for shelter are some of the few trees along the coastline of the island and, as such, do have considerable visual effect but the remainder of the garden is well protected and hidden from the outside.

The gardens are approximately 5 acres (2ha) in size and are surrounded by either hedges, walls or woodland. The extensive views across the water to the south and west provide a beautiful setting for the designed landscape.

Landscape Components

The Gardens

The woodland shelter-belt is made up of mixed conifers underplanted with holly and Escallonia macrantha planted c.1930. They have been gradually thinned and recently viewpoints have been cut through the undergrowth along the woodland walk to allow views across the sea. Just below the woodland, the small burn cascades down a wide rockface to the gardens some seven metres below. Most of the burn is culverted underground to the shore while a smaller stream is diverted to meander over rocky falls, into ponds and under bridges through the garden. Primulas, iris and other waterside flowers decorate the banks of the channels. Shrubberies of rhododendrons, both species and cultivar, azaleas and other exotic species run along the escarpment east from the waterfall. Below is the rose garden of three terraces surrounded by hedges and planted with hybrid tea and floribundas. On the right of the driveway, the lawn stretches up to the stone wall; during the early summer, it is full of late spring bulbs etc. such as Camasia, and varieties of orchids. Here a variety of cherries are planted to commemorate the succession of George VI in 1937. Below the house are two more terraces, the low walls are planted with mixed herbaceous, alpines and sub- shrubs. The steps lead down to an extensive rockery near the pool. Sheltered by the 15' high grey wall built in 1934 and covered with Russian vine and Clematis montana rubens. The wall provides shelter for several tender exotics such as Magnolia grandiflora, Crinodendron hookerianum and Drimys winteri. The west gate bears the Murray's initials of P and F. A summerhouse is situated in the rose garden and a small statue is placed by the lower pool. A small area has been set aside as a butterfly garden.

Throughout the garden, many interesting and unusual plants were carefully placed to create an artistic effect. A good description of the garden and its plants was published in the Gardeners' Chronicle 1963, September 7th, pp 172- 176.

Features
  • Summerhouse
  • Description: A summerhouse in the rose garden.
  • Boundary Wall
  • Description: The garden is sheltered by a grey brick wall about 4.5 metres high.
  • Tree Belt
  • Description: A coniferous shelterbelt underplanted with evergreen shrubs occupies the escarpment above the garden.
  • Shrubbery
  • Description: There are shrubberies of rhododendron and azaleas.
  • Rose Garden
  • Description: A terraced rose garden is planted with hybrid tea roses and floribundas.
  • Tree Feature
  • Description: A group of cherry trees planted here commemorates the succession of George VI in 1937.
  • Earliest Date:
Stream, Waterfall, Pool, Ornamental Bridge, Rockery
Access & Directions

Access Contact Details

The gardens are open daily from April to October, 10am to 6pm.

Directions

An Cala is about 16 miles south-west of Oban, on the B844.
History

Detailed History

The following is from the Historic Environment Scotland Gardens and Designed Landscapes Inventory. For the most up-to-date Inventory entry, please visit the Historic Environment Scotland website:

http://portal.historic-scotland.gov.uk/hes/web/f?p=PORTAL:DESIGNATIONS:0

Reason for Inclusion

A very attractive garden on the island of Seil, created in the 1930s and incorporating a wide variety of interesting plants.

Main Phases of Landscape Development

1930s

Site History

An Cala was created by the Hon Lt Colonel Arthur Murray, later Lord Elibank, and his wife Faith Celli, the actress. They inherited from an aunt, Mrs Murray, one of a row of three cottages in 1930 when there was nothing on the site except six sycamores and one willow. During the following ten years, the remaining two cottages were purchased and converted into the present house. Mrs Murray died in 1942 and Colonel Murray, concerned about the future survival of the garden, sold it in 1950 to his great friends, Captain and Mrs H.E.H. Blakeney. Mrs Blakeney has recently died and her family are now looking after An Cala.

An Cala is a small 'plantsman's garden' created in the 1930s. It has been continuously gardened by the two owners and their families and most of the plants and colour schemes were designed by Mrs Murray. The steeply rising ground was cleverly used to create a series of terraces at different levels. In 1943 Lt Colonel Murray drew up three plans of the garden recording the layout and planting positions of the main areas. One of these is now kept in the Gardener's potting shed. The gardens can be divided into three components: formal gardens around the house, woodland garden along the base of the escarpment, and the woodland shelterbelt running along the northern boundary, but as all the components blend together in such a small area, they have been described as one.

Associated People

Just one person associated to An Cala

Contact
References

References

Contributors

  • Historic Scotland