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After a difficult spell due to the Covid lockdown it's lovely to get some lovely feedback from a regular GCT excursion-goer:

I was actually quite nervous about the Gardens of Excellence trip. It was the first one of the year and after last year – I worried that it might get cancelled because people may still nervous about covid. I remember messaging Stephen if it was going ahead and he replied very quickly saying it was which was a relief! As someone who doesn’t drive I rely on these trips to get out and explore the beauty of gardens which usually aren’t accessible with normal bus routes.

On June 18th the plan was to go to Woodfall Gardens and also a surprise garden which we found out on the day was Galloway House at Garlieston which is also in Wigtownshire. Pick up starts at 9 am in St Johns Town of Dalry before travelling to various stops throughout such as Castle Douglas and Gatehouse of Fleet.

Our first stop was Wigtown for a quick coffee and look around the farmers market before heading off to Garlieston for Galloway House. The woods were stunning with various paths you can quickly get lost in but that was the charm of it. The woods were such a beautiful and natural garden that was so full of life from the bees in the foxgloves to the birds in the branches. I was very keen to find the handkerchief tree but I completely misunderstood what it actually was which was rather embarrassing. I had actually been past it quite a few times while looking for it.

These woods are open all year round, car park near the Galloway House and you only pay for parking your car unless you wish to make a donation. If you keep walking through the woods you will also come to the beach which reveals some of the military history of Garlieston.

Our next stop was Isle of Whithorn were people had the choice of going to the café, pub or picnic for lunch before heading on to Woodfall Gardens.

Now for me personally, Woodfall was the highlight of the day. Hidden behind a church you walk through into Galloways Secret Garden. An 18th Century Walled Garden that’s split into three with a underground spring that is hidden near the bamboo.

The garden is such a tranquil and beautiful place to visit – I could have spent hours just sitting on one of the many benches placed throughout the gardens, listening to the wildlife. There is a rose garden with a stunning view of the church, wood paths meandering though the trees, lots of vegetables and flowers in full bloom.

 There is a polytunnel that’s full of lavender which keeps the bees very happy! To be honest I can imagine all the wildlife is very happy with the gardens for they provide so much for them from the berries on the trees, undisturbed corners with wood piles and the wide variety of herbs, Tagetes, Digitalis and Buddleias to encourage varieties of bees and reduce pests.

Woodfall is open with the Scotland’s Garden Open Day scheme, but you can also get in contact with the owners, Ross and Liz Muir, for a private viewing.

Our next bus trip is to Holehird, Lake District in July! There are two trips that month, one on the 23rd and the other on the 31st. Please make sure to book well in advance as it’s a very popular trip!

Apparently, the rest of the Gardens of Excellence trips are also close to being fully booked- please book sooner rather than later.

Alecia

Click on the links below for a passenger blog about some of our previous Gardens of Excellence trips

(links take you to an external site):

The Lakeland Garden (Holehird Garden) 2020

Machars Gardens (Craichlaw Garden and Woodfall Garden) 2020

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A beautiful sunny day at Woodfall Garden. 18 June 2022.

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Photo: Bob Peace

Photo: Bob Peace

Photo: Bob Peace

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Photo: Bob Peace

Photo: Bob Peace

Photo: Steve Davie

Askham Hall Excursion August 2016 Photos: Rhodda Rugg
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John O'Groats September 2021. Photos: Martin Warnock