Colonsay House Gardens after a spring shower
Colonsay House Gardens after a spring shower

A 20-acre rhododendron garden surrounds historic Colonsay House manor, on the island of Colonsay. The gardens are considered one of the finest in Scotland. Aside from rhododendrons, the gardens feature a mix of trees and shrubs, many from the southern hemisphere.

Colonsay House Garden was planted primarily during the 1930s and consists of a formal garden area close to the Georgian manor house, and more informal woodland areas further from the house.

The most intriguing historical feature of the gardens is a small early Christian statue known as the Tobar Oran Sculptured Stone, believed to have been carved in the late 7th or early 8th century.

This curious statue stands immediately to the left of the garden entrance, beside a small pool dedicated to St Oran. The statue is in the shape of a cross, with a head of Christ at the top and a fishtail at the bottom. It was found near the ruins of the old chapel at Riasg Buidhe, a deserted village a few miles distant.

The formal garden includes mixed borders, clematis, climbing roses, and agapanthus, in addition to a small 'lighthouse' garden. The mild climate of Colonsay allows tender and exotic plants to flourish, including acacia, eucalyptus, myrtle, and magnolias. There is also a tree planted by King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra during a 1902 visit to Colonsay.

The woodland garden is open daily throughout the year, but the formal gardens are open only on Wednesday and Saturday during the summer months.

I loved visiting the gardens. A brief spring shower left sparkling drops of rain on the rhododendron blossoms and made the foliage shimmer with sparkling lights. This is a lush, magical place, and the backdrop of the historic manor house adds to the ambience.