This place is all at once local success story, sanctuary and food hero. The walled garden from ‘the big house’ of Applecross Estate had fallen into such disrepair in the latter part of the 20th century that all that was really left were the walls, fruit trees and perimeter hedge. Then in 2001 a project was begun to restore it which you can read about here.
The garden itself has been lovingly restored to its former glory with rose trellises, ornamental hedges, lavender paths and all manner of flowers. In fact for someone who is no expert on plants and flowers it is almost too much to talk about, so I’ll leave that to the horticulturists. But from an aesthetics point of view this to me offers the most amazing place of retreat, of solitude, of peace. A chance to stroll amongst the lawns and paths and breathe in natures wonderful aroma, to sit beneath the natural shade of an ancient tree and feel totally relaxed watching bees and butterflies visit every colour of flower and chaffinches and sparrows forage. You may even see a swallow chase a dragonfly. You can wander through one of the ancient side gates like a child in a Frances Hodgson Burnett story to find the nettle and wildlife gardens and play in the wonderful new treehouse.
Coupled with this is the food hero side of the project. The garden plays host to The Potting Shed Cafe & Restaurant which sits against the far wall. Sitting within the estate grounds as you walk to it from the village you’ll see deer and highland cattle grazing in the fields, the venison is shot and butchered in house. The garden is home to every type of seasonal fruit and vegetable you can imagine. Whilst there I saw red onion, cavalo nero, kale and all manner of summer leaves approaching readiness. Spring onions had already been harvested and the raised bed was being prepared for further cultivation. About one third of the garden is set over to these vegetables and herbs and soft fruits. The orchard on the other side of the garden is home to the wild flower meadow where all manner of flying insects are encouraged, the apples were just beginning to come into fruit and when the autumn comes the flowers will be mown and left to seed and natures annual journey will begin all over again.
In a place like Applecross that is already a haven from hustle and bustle tucked away in the far reaches of the Scottish west highlands this is a further haven. A true place of peace and beauty. And outstanding fresh food.