Gardens of Galloway No.1

On Sunday 15th April, the first full day of our little holiday in Galloway, my two delightful assistants and I toddled off to one of Galloway’s many fine attractions: Dunskey Gardens.

Before looking round the gardens, however, we made a bee-line for the aptly named Seasons Tearoom, which was most splendidly adorned with paintings of the surrounding area as seen through the seasons. The paintings went all round the walls and strayed up to the ceiling:

In a previous life, this room had been a dairy, hence all the tiling on the lower walls. Although a most delightful place, it was rather cold, so we kept our outer clothing on:

Mind you, our comestibles were very warming. It was tea for me and a shared cafetiere of coffee for the delightful assistants, along with 3 different food items.

My choice was a coconut cake which was very generously topped with butter icing (I scraped some of it off and assistant no.2 helpfully wolfed it):

As an accompaniment to the butter icing from my cake, assistant no.2 had a fruit scone with butter and jam:

And assistant no.1 ordered ginger cake, and was delighted when the waitress brought it over, declaring ‘this is all there is left, so I’m giving you two slices':

Both of my parents have a great fondness for dairy produce, cream in particular where my dad’s concerned (he explains this by claiming to have been “born with a cream deficiency”) and butter on the part of my dear mama.

If you happen to have seen a previous post on here involving a pancake, you may recall that she wasn’t defeated by the solidity of butter served in a tearoom recently. The ginger cake episode was even more spectacular, to my mind. Really, I think the cake was only there to provide something for the butter to sit on:

Refreshed and warmed by our morning snacks, off we trotted into the bright sunlight. Dunskey Gardens has much to recommend it for a visit. Not only is it an interesting and lovely garden, but it also contains a maze (the pattern of which is based around the maze at Hampton Court), some splendid glasshouses and a woodland walk. We started our tour with the maze:

I have proof that we found our way to the centre of the maze:

I believe my eldest brother claimed the prize when he visited recently, and it was a lollipop  (‘children’ can be of any age, it seems; he’s 49, although he doesn’t look it).

After finding our way out (which was far easier than finding our way in, I’m relieved to say), we took a turn about the lovely gardens.

All over the place there were curious little plastic things hanging from trees and seats. We were initially quite perplexed by these, but once we’d worked out what they were we enjoyed looking for them (if you look closely underneath the bench towards the far end you can perhaps make out a little dangling blue thing):

Close-up, this was what they looked like:

They turned out to be hole punches and, thanks to delightful assistant no.2 being a fellow of infinte resource, we were each able to collect the different shapes on offer using pieces of paper torn from a notebook he had about his person:

I do like a nice glasshouse, and the glasshouses at Dunskey were jolly nice. They were built in the late 1800s by Mackenzie and Moncur, who were also responsible for the magnificent glasshouses at Kew Gardens in London and the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh.

Mackenzie and Moncur appear to have been an entrepreneurial bunch for, in addition to building glasshouses, they also ran iron foundries which produced – amongst other useful items – lamp posts, manhole covers, pipes and radiators. I can’t help feeling that making street furniture would be a very satisfying job. Whenever you walked past one of your creations you could smile with delight at having given something so useful to the world.

Beyond the glasshouses lay a woodland walk, which we enjoyed sauntering round. Along the route, visitors were encouraged to engage with their surroundings by guessing tree species which had been numbered, thus:

The answers were on the back of the numbered plates. I didn’t do very well as there weren’t many leaves out (that’s my excuse, although even with leaves I failed to get some of them), but assistant number 1 made a fine stab at it and got most of them right.

Part of the walk skirted a little loch (lake) where there were some boats tied up. I rather fancied nipping into one and rowing out on the water:

Dunskey is one of six gardens in Galloway that are part of a scheme encouraging tourism. When you visit any one of them you can collect a form that gives discounted entry to the others. We only managed three of the six on this trip, but hope to see the others on another occasion. I would like to return to Dunskey in another season, and of course I need to double-check the tearoom delights.

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Categories: Architecture, Cake, Galloway, Gardens, Photography, Scotland, Tea, Tearooms | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 50 Comments

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50 thoughts on “Gardens of Galloway No.1

  1. Geoff

    We went there a few years ago. I wouldn’t have recognised the name but the tearoom was very familiar.
    A very pleasant place

  2. Lovely photos of the garden (and the photos of the cake arent bad either!)

  3. There’s so much to love in the details here from the fist sign encouraging you to walk on the grass, the delightful mural in the tearooms. Through to the food and cakes, particularly on the last two pieces of the ginger cake!

    I love a good old fashioned maze (as well) and the wonderful hole punch collection on your piece of paper! The glass house looked an absolute treat too and it’s any wonder that you don’t visit more often because it truly is a tea room of beauty!

    • You’re always such an encouragement my dear, thank you. I had no idea the tearoom was going to be so splendid. My delightful assistants had been before, but wisely didn’t say too much about it so that I was very pleasantly surprised when I saw it. I’m looking forward to a return visit.

  4. Interesting bit of history about Mackenzie and Moncur, and I have to agree with you about making street furniture, especially in the 19th century when aesthetics were as important as utilitarian considerations.

    You made me chuckle about the cream and butter too, sounds like my mother who is Danish and the Danes take their dairy products pretty seriously. So much so that there is a Danish expression, ‘tandsmør’, which translates as ‘tooth butter’, and it’s when the butter on your bread is so thick it takes an imprint of your teeth. Do you have Nordic ancestry?

    • Thank you Finn, I’m utterly delighted to learn about the word for ‘tooth butter’! It perfectly describes the way both of my parents go about applying butter to things. I’m not aware of any Nordic ancestry but, strangely enough, the first time I went to Norway I had a most curious sensation of having come home. Maybe it was just because of the similarities with Scotland, I don’t know, but it was a very strong impression that I haven’t had in the same way anywhere else. I like the idea of having Nordic ancestry, and I suppose it’s quite likely what with Viking invasions and whatnot.

      • I know the Vikings made it to the north off England and there are words in Geordie which are the same or similar to Danish, but I think the Scots may have scared them off ;-). Although I think they colonised some of the islands in the west and they definitely made it to Ireland.

        • Ha ha, I don’t think anyone could frighten a Viking! I did wonder about the west coast because I know that I have strong connections with both the Isle of Skye and further down on the mainland across from the Isle of Mull. My great grandmother was brought up in Dunvegan on Skye and initially only spoke Gaelic, before travelling to Edinburgh to find work as a young lady and learning English.

  5. I could just move into the greenhouse! Beautiful.

  6. What a beautiful place! Your assistance look remarkable for their ages, The butter/cream galore diet seems to work very well! I’m switching to it immediately.

    The tea room looked a lot like my great uncle Sidney’s dairy barn in Jourdanton, Texas, except his had a concrete floor with a drain, milking stalls, and no frescos .

    For some reason, I’m feeling hungry for cake…

    • Thanks Marian, do you have any photos of your great uncle Sidney’s dairy barn? I think such places are fascinating.

      The assistants are doing very well for their ages, and if I live that long I only hope I’ll be as fit as they are. I sometimes wonder about becoming a vegan but I really don’t feel I could give up my dairy, despite the many things I’ve read about it being bad for you.

  7. Assistants. Will I never learn to proofread?

  8. That all looks absolutely delightful, and your descriptions are delightful, as well, Lorna!
    This truly is my idea of a perfect day. ;-)

  9. This looks a lovely place, and the food looks really nice too. I’m glad you had some sunshine on your holiday!

    • It was lovely Jo, and we had the whole place to ourselves until just before we left. The whole week’s weather was like this, beautifully sunny, we were very fortunate.

  10. You remember few days ago I said I would love a week end in the beautiful place you shared with us? I love all those photos, all those places. i can look and dream!!
    Thank you so much for passing by my Blog yesterday :)

    • I do remember that, yes, and am very happy to give you pictures to inspire dreams. Other people’s blogs often make me dream, too, and it was lovely to visit your blog! :)

  11. So many Americans have grown apprehensive about butter. I’m glad I am not one of them. I look forward to my visits to this lovely site. My grandparents arrived in New York from Scotland and Ireland. They were both writers and dreamers…mostly about being back in “the Old Country.”

    • Thank you Bonnie, delighted that you dropped in! Do you know where in Scotland and Ireland your grandparents came from? Did they publish any of their writings?

      • Grandpa was a gardener from the area around Glasgow and Grandma was a seamstress for a wealthy landowner in Belfast where Grandpa worked. Romantic. Their writing…lyrics…anecdotes are mostly lost…some have been saved on audio tape. Lovely to hear that Belfast accent…humor…wisdom.

        • That does have the makings of a very romantic story. It’s wonderful to have some sound recordings, it reminds me I would like to make some of my parents.

  12. bellasbreak

    i have dreamed of going through a maze like that…how lovely and the cocnut cake..yum!

  13. Hi,
    Beautiful gardens, and very well maintained, I love the idea of the hole punches, and the maze, I must say the boats do look very enticing. :)

    • Thanks Mags, I thought the hole punches were a great idea, we really enjoyed collecting the shapes. We had the maze to ourselves, which was nice, and it would have been lovely to take a little boat out, although it was rather chilly so perhaps just dreaming of it was better on that occasion.

  14. This looks like a great day! the Dunskey gardens look beautiful, and the sun always helps too :)

  15. What a gorgeous, relaxing place. Thanks for sharing and I am with your Dad as far as being fond of dairy and cream in particular…Love it!

  16. CAFelegi

    As I sit here noshing on my lunch of pretzels in my windowless office, I have to say that you sparked a bit of envy :-) All beautiful and as always, a very delightful read.

    • Thank you Catherine, I hope you have some tea to wash down your pretzels with. Since your office is windowless, have you put up any nice pictures to make you feel as if you have windows? Just an idea.

      • CAFelegi

        I will be moving on to a new job in a week that looks as though there are oodles of windows, but I did decorate my space with the drawings from my co-worker’s daughter :-) Thank you for the tip!

        If my other office is just as windowless, then I will be sure to follow your advice.

  17. I really like the encouragement you get while in the maze! And afterward, another dessert would be a nice reward… :)

  18. Oh what a gorgeous garden and tea-room! The punches are so imaginative. Thank you for that tour. And – tell your Dad I’ve suddenly realised that I too was born with a cream deficiency! So much has become clear!

    • Thanks Christine, I thought the punches were a very novel idea too. I will inform my dad that he’s not alone, I’m sure he’ll be delighted to have someone else back up his theory!

  19. I love Gardens, which sounds obvious to the point of cliche. But then again cliches are the ubiquitous statements they are for a reason, they are commonly held conceptions for a reason and usually quite a good one!
    I also, unfortunately have absolutly no sense of direction, so I would have gotten so lost in the hedge maze, mind you I am quite tall so I guess I could just jump up and look around!
    Now this will sound a little hethenistic, considering I drink so much tea, but it has been at least 4 years since my last scone! I haven’t eaten one in so long! I have even been to tea rooms and had sandwhichs and cake, but I have not had a scone in 4 years! My dear lady, I must gone have one now!
    To the tea shop!

    • Four years since your last scone?! I can’t believe it! I do hope you can remedy this very soon. I’m quite distraught at the very idea.

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