June 9, 2014
On this date in 2002, I sat in the beautifully-appointed restaurant of Stonefield Castle Hotel in the western part of Scotland, celebrating with Bill our 35 wonderful years of being married. We dined on duckling and asparagus, haddock, and Chicken Kiev, with platters of fresh vegetables. Indeed, everything was fresh.
Our view over part of the sixty acres of gardens toward Loch Fyne (pronounced fin) was unrestricted, due to the walls of windows that surrounded us. After dinner, since it was still light, we strolled through the gardens and the surrounding woodlands, where well-worn trails took us alongside a narrow but deep ravine where exotic plants grew as if it were their native home. I suppose it is by now.
Whether they were Robber Barons or they inherited wealth, during the 19th century the western part of Scotland became home to a number of wealthy men who built homes modeled after the medieval castles that dot Scotland’s landscape. Then they sent away to all parts of the world for unique plant specimens for the large, sprawling gardens that became a must-have for the well-heeled gentleman.