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18 Sep 2019

Rocking out at Inverewe

A terracotta urn filled with rocks and soil stands on the lawn in front of Inverewe House. An orange omega-shaped sign rests beside it with the text LOVE on it.
The rock garden at Inverewe was created by Mairi Sawyer.
At number 95 on our 100 Ways list is a project to renovate our rock garden at Inverewe.

For a week in the late summer of 2019, three of the world’s leading experts in ‘crevice gardening’ descended on Inverewe to renovate the 100-year-old terraced rock garden.  

A co-operation between the Trust and the Scottish Rock Garden Club (SRGC), the project saw the rebuilding of a small part of the large terraced rock garden in a crevice-style landscape. Visitors were also able to hear from the experts in a series of workshops and talks.

A group of people plant plants on a steep rocky terrace at Inverewe.
The first Rock Garden Festival took place in September 2019.

The rock garden was originally created 100 years ago by Osgood Mackenzie’s daughter Mairi Sawyer, who made the distinctive terraces from red Torridon sandstone, left over from when the house was rebuilt after a fire.

A black and white photograph of Mairi Sawyer pictured in the rock garden she created. The loch and mountains can be seen in the background.
Mairi Sawyer in the rock garden she created

As well as using much of the original rock, the project involved 5 tonnes of stones in different shapes and sizes being moved into place, as well as 5 tonnes of sand and 1 tonne of top soil.

Led by Ian Young from the SRGC, the project also benefited from the expertise of Paul Spriggs from Vancouver Island, British Columbia and Zdenek Zvolanek from the Czech Republic.

Ian Young said: ‘I was excited about this project but it succeeded way beyond my expectations in the way it brought together an international team of gardeners from the SRGC and the National Trust for Scotland, where we could pass on our passion and experience to a younger generation of gardeners.’

A wooden sign stating Rock Garden in white text with a white arrow pointing to the left. The sign is beside a gravel path in Inverewe Garden.
The Rock Garden, Inverewe

The National Trust for Scotland works every day to protect Scotland’s national and natural treasures. From coastlines to castles, art to architecture, wildlife to wilderness, we protect all of this For the Love of Scotland.

In Our Strategy for Protecting Scotland’s Heritage 2018–23, we set out how we’re planning to work towards our vision that Scotland’s heritage is valued by everyone and protected now, and for future generations.