'Secret garden' saved
25 November 2011
The future of one of Scotland's most beautiful gardens is secure after a campaign which raised more than £2 million to save it.
The coastal garden of Arduaine, near Oban, is popularly known as the 'secret garden' for its secluded position with spectacular views over the Sound of Jura. Semi-hardy plants such as palms and tree ferns thrive in its mild microclimate, and the garden also has spectacular collections of Rhododendron, Meconopsis betonicifolia (Himalayan blue poppies), and Myosotidium hortensia (Chatham island forget-me-nots).
Two years ago, however, it was making huge losses and its owners, the National Trust of Scotland, had identified it as one of 11 properties for closure under highly controversial cost-cutting measures.
However a group of concerned residents, led by the owner of the neighbouring hotel, set up a support group which grew to over 200 campaigners from all over the world. The Trust reversed its closure policy, drew up a management plan to cut running costs by tens of thousands of pounds and began working with the support group to save the garden. Gifts, grants from charitable trusts and donations from more than 2,700 Trust members raised enough money for an endowment to secure the future of the property.
'We are not out to sell off our heritage gems, we are searching for new, innovative ways to make them work,' said Sir Kenneth Calman, chairman of the National Trust for Scotland. 'The prospects for Arduaine Garden are rosy, and we'll be applying the lessons we've learned here to many of our other places over the next five years.'