In the beginning

Ardivachar croft house
Croft House 2007

Or once upon-a-time two very sensible people stood on the north-west tip of South Uist (Outer Hebrides) and fell in love with a croft on the edge of the world. It might have been blowing a Force 8 with horizontal rain but we were smitten. Eighteen months later, with the common sense and retirement plan blown away by the gale, we became the proud custodians of 12 hectares of coastal grassland (machair), a sadly neglected croft house, a derelict concrete garage containing 20 years accumulated junk, and some tumbledown stone walls around the “garden”.

Garden planning
A garden – here?

Initially, I declared that it was an impossible site for a garden, that we would leave it to nature and I would just admire the view and take up knitting or origami or something improving! It was either the accumulation of 25 years of ingrained gardening debris in the fingers or the threat of scurvy that changed my mind, but before I knew what was happening we had started a garden.

Digging the first bed
Making a start

Four years later and poverty-stricken we are still enamoured. We now live in a new eco-house, are just about self-sufficient in vegetables and the old croft house is now in the care of new owners. The gardens are still a work in progress and this blog is their story.
My neighbours still view me as eccentric, if not certifiable, but then what do you expect from a couple of Sassenachs.

27 thoughts on “In the beginning”

  1. hello Christine, while doing a search for compost hebrides on the off chance I might find some I followed a link that had me confused at first as I thought is this you in another guise, but I realise not, do you know Johnathan and Denise Bridge of the big garden on South Uist, it was the wood fencing around their veggies that made me think of you I have not seen anyone else do this though it is so sensible for wind protection,
    how is south Uist weather until last night we have been very dry up here at the butt, other parts of Lewis had had rain the Butt of Lewis does tend to be drier, hope all is well with you, Frances

  2. Hi Frances, I know the Bridges, they live on the very south of the island. Not surprisingly their garden is very different from mine. It is much more sheltered and has the most beautiful high stone walls – must be 10ft or more. They also have the most amazing exterior wooden scaffolding around their greenhouse!
    We had rain yesterday – the first for weeks and weeks. It was very welcome and it all helps, but hardly touched the surface. Today we’re back to clear skies and sunshine.

  3. 10 foot walls!! wow how lucky, there are photos on their website but photos do not give an indication of size unless there is a known size to compare with, a family up the hill from me that have a polytunnel have some fencing on the south west side,
    we haven’t had anymore rain just the bit Thursday night Friday morning the only areas still wet when I was in the garden yesterday were the areas I have been watering, we have been having a lot of white (cloud) skies this last week, Frances

  4. Hi David thank you for dropping in – time for a cuppa? I waited a long time for this and in the end discovering my own version of paradise took me by surprise – not quite what I’d planned. You’d love it here -come north young man, at least for a holiday. I loved your blog and I’m likely to become an avid follower.

  5. Did I also mention that I am in love with any and all rock? I must collect from nearby to edge paths, create stepping stones, deter erosion, and stabilize mulch. Even purchased huge boulders to replace concrete stoops at both front and rear entrances of the house. Nice! And you have these beauties just outside your door! Envy again! 😉

  6. My garden is rapidly filling up with assorted pieces of rock and driftwood, it provides perfect niches for many of many plants, and also provides a great substrate for lichens.

  7. Alas my wheelbarrow is not a thing of beauty, but it does get a lot of use, transporting everything from manure and seaweed to rocks and concrete.

  8. Nor is any proper wheelbarrow a thing of beauty, yet those handles are what US manufacturers are missing in design. Arrow straight, forcing the user to bend much more than necessary. 😉

  9. My rusty old barrow certainly does the job – should be a good business opportunity for someone in the US to make old style English wheelbarrows.

  10. Thank you. It’s only blowing half a gale today and the sun is lighting a very stormy sea, beautiful. Hopeless for growing anything at the moment but tomorrow……….

  11. You’re living my dream too. I live in SW France in a sleepy Gersoise village, work in London (it’s a crazy life) but since whenever I can recall I’ve wanted to live in a crofters cottage near the sea on a Scottish island. I visit Skye as often as I can. I don’t care about the weather, although I could see that day in day out that might be different. Do tell more.

  12. We almost managed the French version of the retirement idyll, but the sea view won! Life on a Scottish island has its problems and it wouldn’t suit everyone. I can see the Cullins of Skye from the croft. Fortunately our weather is drier and milder than Skye even though we’re stuck out in the Atlantic! I might yearn for French markets, charcuterie and cheese, but wouldn’t trade my windy croft for the world.

  13. Thank you it was a kind and generous thought. I hope you won’t be offended if I politely decline, I prefer not to answer some questions directly.

  14. I don’t at all! I feel the same as you usually… I think the heat got to me!!

  15. Just found you – your garden looks wonderful. My island links, such as they are (old but strong), are with the northern isles but great to find a Scottish island gardener. I’m with Luffy on yearning for the crashy seas and big skies.

  16. Hello, thank you for stopping by. Although I’m a recent transplant I’ve put down very strong roots and this is definitely home. Plenty of crashing seas, big squally skies and storm force winds this week. As much as I love wthe winter storms, I think it’s time thaey stopped trashing my garden and allowed Spring to arrive.

  17. Hello, thank you for stopping by. Although I’m a recent transplant I’ve put down very strong roots and this is definitely home. Plenty of crashing seas, big squally skies and storm force winds this week. As much as I love the winter storms, I think it’s time they stopped trashing my garden and allowed Spring to arrive.

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