Despite less than desirable weather, I ventured to Rhu to visit the garden of Glebeside House, which was open as part of the Scotland’s Gardens Scheme. Divided into fluid ‘rooms’ by a pergola, a very impressive laburnum archway, and palatial beds brimming with plants, this garden was definitely worth a visit.
I first travelled behind the house, passing a standing dead tree trunk clothed in Clematis tangutica, carpets of Alchemilla mollis, and a lemon-flowered nasturtium (among many other things). Here, I loved the use of a mixed shrub border of Cotinus, Camelia, Sambucus, and peony that gave the illusion of depth, blurring the boundary and disguising the neighbouring Cupressus x leylandii hedge.
Raised beds, newly built in stone outside the renovated washhouse were filled with plants that complemented each other in colour, and contrasted in form, from the large lowering pale pink Clematis, to the purple Salvia, Lavandula, and Viola, and a crimson Fuchsia. Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ and the bronze-coloured Carex testaeca gave a restful break in the riot of colour.
In the shady part of the garden, a Weigela, clipped into a dome shape, and the broad leaved hostas provided the perfect foil to allow the various ferns in this part of the garden to sing. Other shady areas included Gunnera sp. underplanted with hostas, and a Tree fern underplanted with Epidmedium and ferns, among other things. I noticed that there were a number of different fern varieties, as well as hostas, Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’, and Epimedium (possibly E. rubrum) repeated in other shady parts of the garden, under trees and large shrubs, adding a sense of unity amongst the planting.
The shady borders led through the laburnum archway, not at its best this time of the year as the yellow chandelier-like flowers are now over but I am assured it is a sight to be seen. However, the beautifully sculpted pergola provided a wonderful support for winter-flowering jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) - just green at this time of the year, honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum), and a wild rose of sorts with red hips that were starting to swell.
Mixed borders are clearly favoured at Glebeside House, and rightly so. Mixtures of the odd Rhododendron, a green backdrop at this time of the year, a reddish-purple acer, a variety of Salix alba underplanted with a red Phormium, Astrantia, and Lysimachia punctutata. In the sunny border, a purple pittosporum was intermixed with Campanula, Achillea, and Fuchsia. The trees and shrubs providing structure year-round, coming into their own at various times of the year, and acting as a calming backdrop during the summer season when the herbaceous perennials run riot.
On complimenting the owner, Peter Proctor, on his garden, he said, “you know, this is a high maintenance garden”, which he told me that he does get to enjoy of an evening over a (well-deserved, might I add) glass of wine. All-in-all, the garden was a wonder to explore, a complete delight, and I could have spent much longer there. Roll on next year when I can visit again!
Rachel Bailey, a garden designer and gardener in Scotland.