Ice-cream first, then Weeds and Good Bits and Bad Bits – Ness Botanic Gardens!

As we approached the entrance to Ness Botanic Gardens information notices told us that we could enjoy two locally made varieties of ice-cream inside. I suppose we could have been told of worse things but I had come to see plants and a good garden and ice-cream was not of interest, especially as it was early in the morning. So early, that we had arrived a little before the garden’s opening time and, after browsing the shop for several minutes, we went to the plant sales area  which was open, though not for sales. It only added to our bad first impressions as the plants had, for the most part, dried out and the paving slabs of the footpaths were infested with weeds.

At times I can be quite negative in my view of gardens I visit. I become very annoyed with gardens where there a poor standard of maintenance, where weeds are widespread and where there is a general air of neglect. I don’t feel it unreasonable to visit a garden such as Ness Botanic Gardens and expect high standards of gardening, planting and maintenance and find it a huge disappointment when this is not what I experience.

There were many beautiful vistas in the Ness Botanic Gardens but also many areas which disappointed me. I’ll continue with photographs and captions.

Three very attractive vistas which are met very early in one’s walk around the gardens.

Immediately after the enjoyable views above we stopped at this bed of azaleas which was overrun with weeds. 

dsc_0027There were large areas of wildflower meadow which were pleasant, quiet and gave good views to the surrounding countryside. 


When there is widespread concern over the demise of our pollinating insects it is good to see an installation which provides nesting sites for bees. The one pictured above is for solitary bees – I had to wonder if solitary bees would feel at home in this high rise apartment block. Perhaps, they are not quite as demanding of their solitude as I am.  


This pond did not look well – of course, conditions may get ahead of the gardeners but seeing three ponds in this condition was off putting.  

This did not have the appearance of being left on the day we visited but seemed to have been there for some time.

The Rock Garden area is very attractive with mature specimens and comfortable walking pathways. The presence of Mare’s Tail throughout the area was a disappointment though. 

Is it unreasonable of me, when I spend £7.50 on admission, to expect a well-kept garden?

I realise that this is somewhat of a bearbug with me, this disappointment with gardens which charge admission yet do not maintain reasonable standards,  and that I am inclined to rant on about it but that’s how it is with me. Grumpy old man? Maybe! LOL!

Paddy Tobin

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4 thoughts on “Ice-cream first, then Weeds and Good Bits and Bad Bits – Ness Botanic Gardens!

  1. You are a grumpy old man but then every person over 50 is….but you should have asked for your money back….
    I had a group to a garden and as I had paid €9.00 on behalf of 24 people and the garden looked as if it had been abandoned for the previous couple of years and was over-run with perennial weeds, I requested and received a full refund….I have also done this in England but the refund was refused and it was suggested that I didn’t understand the concept of the garden – Barnsley – Geoff Hamilton’s old garden.
    I think it is unreasonable to complain if one gets one’s feet wet on the grass – I saw this on Tripadvisor recently but a low standard of maintenance is totally unacceptable.
    Refund and a free ice cream might have been a good idea…I hoped you also complained directly before writing this rant?!


    1. Ah, Frances, you know me too well. LOL Yes, I know I get annoyed and disappointed with such gardens and, you know, there is a certain feeling out there that it is not a nice thing to do to complain or criticise gardens we visit. We must simply accept them as one person’s creation and interpretation of gardening. In fairness, Ness Botanic Gardens is a nice place to take a walk but I went as a gardener and hoped to see interesting plants and good gardening and I was very disappointed with this.

      No, I didn’t pass a comment before leaving – coward! Making such complaints to the person at reception is not always fair. They are only there to take the cash and have little to do with the garden and I didn’t wish to waste any further time at the place.


  2. I too can understand your frustration at the condition of this ‘beautiful’ garden. That pond looks so sad and yes, to see bags lying around in such a beautiful setting would certainly be very off putting. Your photos show both sides of the story and those views and vistas are beautiful. It’s such a pity to see it overrun though. That would just made me feel mad. Yes in my own garden that’s fine, but if you are paying in to see somewhere, no matter how much you pay in, you do expect to see something better than what you have at home at least, something that has been looked after properly that then one could come away feeling fulfilled and amazed, well I would. I don’t think I could have held my tongue though. Yes you are right, that person at the til is not to blame, after all she only works there. But I wouldn’t have been able to constrain myself from firing off an email to those ‘in charge’ and let them know how I feel!!


    1. Hi Jackie, One of the odd things about visiting gardens and taking photographs is that we are – at least with the camera in hand – inclined to be very selective. Who ever puts up an album of the bad spots in a garden they visit; who shows the weeds or the disasters? This is because, I believe, we all go with a positive outlook and we all wish and hope to see beauty and to enjoy the experience. And then, as regards the photos we might share with others, we all want to show something which is nice and enjoyable —– so we lie! We often only show the good side of any garden we visit and choose not to show the bad sides. This is fair enough most of the time – we all have the spot in the garden which is not at its best at this moment and it is only to be expected that we should find the same in a garden we visit but when the bad spots multiply and show a pattern of neglect it becomes unacceptable. Paddy


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