Island garden open for visitors

The Oakley's garden is a wonder for any horicultural enthusiast
The Oakley's garden is a wonder for any horicultural enthusiast

The delights of the horticultural paradise ‘Leathad Ard’ in Carloway are once again on show for local gardeners and nature enthusiasts as the island garden is open for summer 2014.

Each year Carloway residents Stuart and Rowena Oakley open ‘Leathad Ard’ – Gaelic for ‘Steep Hill’ – as part of Scotland’s Garden Scheme to raise funds for both the Scheme’s selected charities and the Red Cross through donations from those visiting the garden (recommended minimum £4).

“We open the garden for three reasons,” explains Stuart. “Firstly, it is a way to raise money for charity, with the Red Cross being our designated charity. This is a way for us to be able to give something to help others, yet provide pleasure to those who take the time to visit us.

“Secondly, it is a pleasure to share our gardening efforts and talk gardening and plants with other like-minded souls. And thirdly, and without wishing to sound like we are bragging, we see our garden as an example of what can be achieved in the inhospitable gardening climate of Lewis and try and encourage others in their own spaces.”

Indeed, since starting their garden in the late 1970s, uncultivated space has become a bit of a rarity at ‘Leathad Ard’ which boasts herbaceous borders, cutting borders, bog gardens, grass gardens, exposed beds, fruit and veg patches, and a new pond.

“The highlights at the moment are the bog gardens and the hidden patio garden, although this will change as the summer progresses,” adds Stuart.

And you can see for yourself by visiting ‘Leathad Ard’ which is open now until the end of August, every day except Fridays and Saturdays, from 1.45pm to 6pm.

As well as viewing the garden and enjoying a tour led by Stuart or Rowena, visitors can buy plants propagated from the Oakley’s own stock.

There is limited parking at the garden (two to three cars) but almost unlimited parking nearby at Carloway Football Pitch, just across the road.