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Meet John and Wendy Mattingley from Cluny House Gardens

November 15th 2016

John and Wendy Mattingley from Cluny House Gardens in front of their 160 years old champion redwood

Let nature do its magic

Cluny House Gardens evolves naturally and offers treats throughout the seasons

John and I have been looking after Cluny full time since 1987 after my parents who, in 1950, began the creation of a unique and magical woodland garden at Cluny.

Our tree collection ranges from a few magnificent 200-year-old specimens to the main plantings, dedicated work which was begun by my father and is continued through to this day. Amongst the older trees is a majestic champion redwood with a girth of over 11m but at only 160 years old, it is still a youngster considering that species can live for 3,500 years. Oh to return in a thousand years to see how massive it has become!

Redwood champion at Cluny House Gardens - Discover Scottish Gardens

The unique feature of Cluny is the exceptional understorey of shade loving plantings. From early spring there are pink carpets of delicate Erythroniums, huge clumps of Trilliums, Hellebores and spreading Asiatic primulas. Later in spring comes a long season of Candelabra primulas, beautiful Himalayan poppies, ‘extra-terrestrial’ Arisaemas and special treats with intriguing common names of Smiths Fairy Bells and another called Merrybells. In early summer, masses of Turkscap lilies take over the garden interspersed with monocarpic Meconopsis up to three metres high, in shades of yellow, pink and white.

20160130_094942     Autumn trees at Cluny House - Discover Scottish Gardens

Although the trees and shrubs are very attractive with new foliage and blossom in spring, it is autumn when they really hold their own. The Japanaese acers are particularly spectacular with hues of yellow, orange or red leaves while the much underrated Euonymous family not only have delicate autumnal colours but produce little lanterns with dangling tiny red or pink seeds. Cluny remains very interesting into winter when the wide variety of conifers stand out along with the diverse bark colours and textures of the deciduous trees.

We allow Cluny to evolve as naturally as possible with many plants self-seeding throughout the garden. Most spectacular and intriguing to see for visitors at three to four metres in height are the Giant Himalayan Lilies. The plants are impressive at all stages throughout the year: before flowering; in flower; with green seed pods or as dried stems.

At Cluny we work organically and garden naturally with special consideration for wildlife, which is very important to us. Cluny is a haven for many woodland garden birds, insects and a variety of mammals including a healthy population of red squirrels. They justlove to scratch themselves on the furrowed tree bark and are a special delight for visitors, some having never seen this once common native species.

Red squirrel at Cluny House - Discover Scottish Gardens

Cluny is a garden with a difference, very special to us but also to our visitors, many of whom return not only annually but with each changing season.