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24 Oct 2023

Storm damage at Crarae Garden

Written by Tim Keyworth, Gardens and Designed Landscapes Manager (South & West)
A severely flooded garden, with gushing waters still running down off the hill on the left. A tall tree and several shrubs have become islands. A garden bench is surrounded by deep water. The path has disappeared.
The lower garden at Crarae has flooded areas that are struggling to drain.
Due to the devastation caused by the storm on 7 October, Crarae Garden will be closed to visitors for the foreseeable future.

| Update 19/03/24: The majority of the path networks have now been restored and Crarae Garden has reopened to visitors. |

On Saturday 7 October 2023, extreme weather events caused by a month’s worth of rain falling in one day resulted in widespread disruption across Argyll. Unfortunately, Crarae Garden has suffered significant damage.

Much of the garden infrastructure has been lost due to a combination of landslides from further up the site, flooding, and erosion caused by the Crarae Burn bursting its banks. Sink holes have appeared and we have lost several trees. Many of the path networks throughout the garden have also been badly affected, with the woodland garden being of particular concern due to many unstable slopes.

We have not been able to access many parts of the garden yet due to the extent of the damage and unsafe ground conditions. We are hoping to shortly use a drone to take images and record videos of the damage.

When it is safe to do so, our gardens team and specialist geotechnical surveyors will begin the process of assessing the site and start to put in place a repair plan for the coming months. Our priority at the moment is safety, primarily the safety of our gardens team and of contractors who may be on site to carry out work. We then aim to restore the first part of the forest garden access road, so that the ditches can be dug out and cleared to divert the water and to stop further washout further down the site. The new mini digger from Arduaine will come to help us.

The damage appears to be so substantial that a new path network will need to be installed almost in its entirety.

Initial signs are that much of the planting and the collection, which is so important to the garden, remains largely intact – a definite positive in what is an incredibly difficult time for all of those connected to the garden.

We will keep this story updated on the garden’s progress over the coming weeks and months.

With more storms and extreme weather events on the horizon due to climate change, the sad reality is that much of our natural heritage is under threat. We’re entering a time of adaptation at Crarae Garden, and probably at many of our other designed landscapes. The Trust is making strategic decisions to create long-term practical solutions in mitigation of and adaptation to gardening in a changing climate, so we can ensure these special places will still be here for future generations to experience.

If you can, please donate today to our general fund to help us respond to extreme weather events like these. Your donation will be used where the need is greatest.

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