Larachmhor Garden still seems to be something of a secret garden in Arisaig as it is so often missed by visitors. A wild woodland garden, its beauty lies in its variety of both native and exotic plants and trees of all shapes and sizes intermingled with local wild flowers.
To enjoy the full extent of Larachmhor Garden, firstly, waterproof boots with a decent grip are recommended as some of the paths can be quite wet and muddy and some smaller paths can be slippy and secondly, don’t keep only to the main path but explore the smaller ones too.
Old maps show the Arisaig gardens first appearing on a map in the late 18th century and it seems they were kitchen gardens for a big house that was built on the land but later destroyed. It then became the kitchen garden and nursery for the newly built Arisaig House after the Astleys took over the land.
In the 1920s, John Holms leased the land from the new owners and commissioned a house to be built, however, after the death of the architect, Sir Robert Lorimer, the plan was never completed. He didn’t, however, give up on his plan to fill the garden with every type of rhododendron and many other exotic plants and brought many species from his home in Glasgow to be planted and seeds to be nurtured in the garden nursery.
Although the half-built house still stands in the garden, it is completely overgrown so not visible, at least not in the the summer months.
The microclimate was ideal for growing some of the plants but others required shelter which Holms engineered by the placement of other plants and tall trees. The garden is very sheltered and even on a blustery day, you’ll only know about it from the sound of the leaves rustling at the top of the tallest trees.
After his death, Holms’ gardener, John Brennan, continued to live in a bothy in the gardens lovingly tending to them until he too died. The garden has since been taken care of by the Royal Botanical Gardens of Edinburgh and teams of volunteers. There are two bothies in the garden which are used by the teams.
Spring and early summer is always the best time to see rhododendrons in Scotland but throughout the summer you can see many other types of plants, both native species and ones from the Himalayas, Chile, New Zealand and other corners of the world. You will see native plants grow alongside bamboo, tropical palms, monkey puzzles and Tibetan rhododendrons.
Visiting Larachmhor Garden
Larachmhor Garden sits slightly hidden from view just off the main road coming into Arisaig from Glenfinnan. There is room for a few cars to park in a parking bay but you can also easily walk or cycle from Arisaig.
The garden is part of the Arisaig Estate but visitors are welcome any time during the day. Of course, they should take care not to leave any rubbish or cause any damage and should ensure the gate is securely closed behind them.
If you have a love of plants or woodland gardens, this is one to add to your list of gardens to visit in Scotland.
More information on Larachmhor Garden, Arisaig
- You can read more about Larachmhor Garden at their own website and download a map of the garden and suggested route. There is a video of the gardens and the work by Larachmhor Garden Association which you can watch here.
- You can read about the history and buy a leaflet about the garden at the Arisaig Land, Sea and Island Centre in Arisaig village.
- Historic Environment Scotland Larach Mor
- You may also enjoy this interesting article that was published in The Scotsman.
(Don’t forget to check yourself for ticks after a walk in the woodlands. If you need to know more about ticks in Scotland, go here)
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