SEMI-TROPICAL GARDENS ON THE ISLAND OF GIGHA
A peaceful and enjoyable walk around the 54 acre gardens on the pretty island of Gigha. The unique microclimate and rich soil on Gigha have encouraged an unusual collection of plants in a beautiful and tranquil setting. Gigha derives its name from God’s Island and it is easy to see why when you walk around these lush gardens.
Colonel Sir James Horlick (co-founder of the malted milk drink) purchased Gigha in 1944 and worked with garden designer Kitty Lloyd Jones to breed rhododendrons and camellias and also introduce rare and unusual plants from around the world. The islanders purchased Gigha in a community buy out in 2002 and in 2017 the Achamore Gardens Trust was established to continue with a restoration project and an ambition to continue to cultivate new and unusual plants and trees seldom seen in the UK.
Don’t expect perfection or immaculately manicured gardens. Some areas are well maintained but others have been allowed to get overgrown and wild. It doesn’t matter – it’s all a delightful walk with plenty of variety to interest and involve you.
The resident white and ginger cat is there to escort you if you wish it, running ahead to guide you and waiting patiently while you catch up. The cat and the peacocks seem to co-exist perfectly happily. The 2 acre Walled Garden has a wide selection of trees, shrubs and plants and well stocked herbaceous borders.
There’s a Bamboo Maze, a sundial and plenty of benches to sit and admire the foliage around you. A path leads up from the Walled Garden to a viewing area where you can get spectacular views by looking west over the sea to the islands of Islay and Jura or east to the Scottish mainland.
Frost is rare here, despite the northern latitudes and the quality of the soil has long been recognised – in the early 20th century Irish potato sellers used to put the Gigha potatoes on top of their sacks for sale to tempt customers. This exceptional soil explains why the gardens are home to several notable and champion trees and plants including trees from China, Australia, Madeira, Central America and Siberia.
In Spring the camellias and rhododendrons are dramatic and colourful. There’s a Woodland Walk with many of the unusual trees making a canopy above and New Zealand ferns at your feet. The pond is an oasis of calm and the home to a variety of wildlife. A map collected from the entrance will guide you to the rare species.
How to get to Achamore Gardens
High Row, Isle of Gigha PA41 7AD
The Gigha ferry leaves from Tayinloan on the west coast of the Kintyre peninsula. The journey takes 20 minutes.
By car – the ferry arrives at South Pier and it’s a three mile drive to the Gardens by a narrow road. Parking is available.
By bike – bikes are available for hire locally.
On foot – the island is only 7 miles long so a visit to the Gardens can be included as part of a long hike.
When are Achamore Gardens open?
From dawn to dusk.
How much does it cost to visit Achamore Gardens?
Family tickets available.
There is an honesty box for cash and a card reader for contactless cards only.
Are there any facilities at Achamore Gardens?
There are loos next to the Walled Garden. Refreshments are available at the Gigha Hotel, the Boathouse Bistro and Ardminish Stores in the village a mile away.