A Brief History of the Garden by Faith Raven.

The present site of Ardtornish House was chosen in 1856 by Octavius Smith, a distiller from London. He built a comparatively modest house which was pulled down 28 years later by his son Valentine, who then employed Alexander Ross, an architect from Inverness, to design the present building. It was constructed between 1884 and 1891, mainly by labour employed directly by the estate. In the summer of 1888 the number involved reached a peak of 160 men.

The garden of approximately 28 acres was laid out by Valentine Smith and his successors, his sister Gertrude and her son Gerard Craig Seller. The number of gardeners employed to look after the policies and the walled herbaceous and kitchen garden on a hillock to the south of the Rannoch rose to 12 with one or two horses.

In 1930 when my parents Owen and Emmeline Hugh Smith bought Ardtornish they found a garden consisting of several mown lawns, rockeries and streams planted with various species of hosta, crocosmia, spirea and lysichitum. There were also groups of eucryphia, escallonia, enkianthus and embothrium. The rhododendrons were clumped along a cliff behind the house and in a rocky steep oakwood glen to the west of the garden. The variety was restricted to some well known Edwardian hybrids, such as "Pink Pearl" and "Cynthia". Their blazing colour in late May was extended by clumps of orange and yellow azaleas. These remain, but one of my parents' first actions was to have removed several formal round beds of pampas grass and hydrangea hortensis.


Gardeners pre-WW1 in the Kitchen Garden