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.