Leckmelm is a woodland garde n of high horticultural interest planted between around 1870 to around 1930, its initial layout contemporary with Osgood Mackenzie's gardens at Inverewe. This is one of the 'West Coast' gardens with a variety of exotic and tender plants, thriving due to the high rainfall and warm temperate climate.
Type of Site
Woodland garden containing exotic trees and shrubs.
Location and Setting
Leckmelm is situated 5km south-east of Ullapool, immediately adjacent to the A835.
The garden extends along a section of the north shore of Loch Broom. It is set out on a south-west facing slope which commands extensive views across and along the Loch.
Leckmelm's gardens were developed within only a small part of the original policies, corresponding with the area laid out in the 1870s.
The Leckmelm Walled Garden, constructed after 1875, has a high north wall with a glasshouse range to the front and potting sheds and boiler house to the rear. Now, only the north wall survives intact, the derelict ranges were removed c 1970. The south wall has an unusual sinuous alignment and is topped by an iron trellis fence which allows views into and out of the garden. A Conservatory, central on the south wall, doubled as an entrance to the Walled Garden. Only the foundation walls and floor now survive.
Paths and Walks
A network of paths allows visitors to follow several small circuits within the Woodland Garden. Some of these paths retain boulder or fern edgings.
The Woodland Garden extends south and west of the Walled Garden sloping south-westwards down to Loch Broom. It contains rare and unusual specimen trees and a wide range of shrubs, particularly species and hybrid rhododendrons. Broad leaved trees and large shrubs of particular note include Fagus sylvatica 'Pendula', Eucryphia glutinosa, Holodiscus discolor, Kalopanax pictus 'Maximowiczii' and Olearia macrodonta. The weeping beech (Fagus sylvatica 'Pendula') is an impressive specimen, dominating the centre of the garden and thriving in the special microclimate. Over 12 species of Rhododendron are present, including some fine large-leaved plants (Rhododendron sinogrande; Rhododendron macabeanum; Rhododendron falconeri) and mature specimens with striking stems. Specimen conifers are also a feature of the garden and include fir, cedar, Monkey puzzle, false cypress, Wellingtonia and Thujopsis. Two champion trees Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Wisselia' and a multi-stemmed Thujopsis dolabrata have been recorded in the gardens. A dense screen of Rhododendron ponticum shelters the gardens from winds off the loch.Walled Garden
The Walled Garden is now used for grazing apart from an area, on the site of the former glasshouses, which is used for visitor parking.
- Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts
Access contact details
The site is open daily between April and October.
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:
Reason for Inclusion
A woodland garden of high horticultural interest planted between c1870- c1930, its initial layout contemporary with Osgood Mackenzie's gardens at Inverewe (q.v.). One of the 'West Coast' gardens with a variety of exotic and tender plants, thriving due to the high rainfall and warm temperate climate.
Main Phases of Landscape Development
Late 19th century ' early 20th century, regeneration of woodland garden and specialist collection ongoing since 1984.
In 1585, Leckmelm was traditionally the site of a battle between the Gunns and the MacKays, which is said to account for the burial ground at Leckmelm Farm, to the south. In the late 18th century Leckmelm Mains stood to the north of the Leckmelm Burn, with three small tenant townships to the south. These were re-organised into crofts in the 1830s by the owner, Davidson of Tulloch who also resettled other families from his Braemore estate there.
In 1879, Leckmelm estate was purchased by Mr Alexander Pirie, a paper manufacturer from Aberdeen, who reorganised the estate once more, into a large home farm. He built estate cottages and the farm buildings at Leckmelm House, now known as Leckmelm Farm. He also started to plant an arboretum in the area known as Buaile Ghlas ('the grey cattle pen'), which was the northernmost of three clearings in Leckmelm Wood; streams running south-west off Beinn Eilideach formed the boundaries of these compartments (1875, OS 6").
In 1906, the estate was acquired by Mrs Fraser, who continued planting the garden with Rhododendrons, Azaleas and ornamental shrubs. By 1910, there were 12 gardeners working at Leckmelm. The gardens included a walled garden set against the road. The arboretum extended across the burn into the middle clearing set with a house and cottages, with Allt na Buaile Glaise forming its southern boundary (1910, OS 25"). By the late 1930s the gardens were unmanaged. From 1940 to 1984, the gardens were abandoned.
In the 1970s, Sir Charles and Lady Gillean Troughton (née Mitford) moved to the cottages adjacent to Buaile Ghlas, which they converted into a single house. They renamed the property, called Tigh na Coille, Little Leckmelm House. Lady Troughton was a descendant of Sir John Fowler, designer of the Forth Bridge, who had owned the Braemore Estate at the head of Loch Broom. In 1984, together with their son Peter, they purchased Leckmelm Woodland Garden from Mr Beattie and began to restore the gardens. They were assisted by Archie Gibson, who identified the species Rhododendrons. Clearance work progressively revealed specimen Rhododendron, Olearia, Eucryphia and other choice shrubs and trees. A programme of replanting also began in the 1980s, within the surviving woodland canopy planted by Pirie in the 1870s.
In 1991, Christopher Lloyd, visiting the garden (Country Life, 1991), noted surviving specimens from this planting phase, including a weeping beech, a Kalopanax, Abies, Monkey puzzles and Irish yew. Work to restore the gardens continues by the Troughton family.
- Features & Designations
Historic Environment Scotland An Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland
- Woodland Garden
- Key Information
Open to the public