In search of the Tsangpo Gorges
The Tibetan Garden found its inspiration deep in the dramatic and beautiful Tsangpo Gorges. Still to this day one of the world’s most inaccessible places. As a result, here in the early 1920s, the great explorer and collector Frank Kingdon Ward and his collaborator and co-author Jack Cawdor, the young 5th Earl sought; but never glimpsed Tsangpo waterfall. In the end, it eluded them and their 1926 book The Riddle of The Tsangpo Gorges led the Royal Geographical Society to conclude that the falls were ‘a religious myth… a romance of geography’.
Their efforts remained inspirational to later explorers, including one who did reach out and manage to touch the reality of the fabled waterfall. When he discovered it on his eighth journey into the hidden-land of Pemako. Ian Baker, an American born academic, explorer and author on Tibet and Buddhism, brought the Kingdon Ward/Cawdor story up to the present day. Initially working with Kenneth Cox and Kenneth Storm, Jr. on a reprint of the 1926 publication. Ian Baker’s long-awaited memoir of his journeys was published in 2004. The Heart of the World recounts one of the most captivating stories of exploration in recent memory; a journey into one of the wildest and most inaccessible places on earth.
The Tibetan Garden
Over eighty years ago, Lord Cawdor brought a collection of rare Tibetan plants back from these secret places to his Highland home. What was then his uncle Ian Campbell’s Auchindoune gardens, his Tibetan treasury of shrubs and flo
wers were planted. The Cawdor burn couldn’t replicate the wild splendor of the Tsangpo Gorges. However the 5th Earl recaptured part of Tibet’s wild and magical floral kingdom.
Today, the Tibetan Garden offers itself in a restored beauty and serenity to visitors. Herself a traveller and lover of Tibet, the Dowager Countess Cawdor continues to bring specialist knowledge to this sensitive restoration. Beginning in the mid-1980s onwards with her late husband Hugh, Jack Cawdor’s son, the 6th Earl. Carefully over the years, the same plants have been sought and introduced, including the superb Primula varieties along the banks of the Cawdor burn.
Laid out in a traditional design by Arabella Lennox-Boyd, Auchindoune’s vegetable garden is especially interesting for its once pioneering commitment to organic and now biodynamic principles and practice. Behind its old stone walls grow a number of heritage vegetables, among them Schorzonera, Chinese, Globe and Jerusalem Artichokes ancient Broad Beans, Kohl Rabi White and Purple Vienna.
This is the model kitchen garden, rich in vegetable varieties. Traditionally laid out in beds symmetrically edged by beautifully clipped box hedging. Its orchard has numbers of classic apple, plum, pear and soft fruit varieties.
Cut flowers are also grown here, including antique varieties of Sweet Pea, such as Cupanis which date back to 1669, and Painted Lady of the 18th century.
Planted to mark the Millennium, the specimen trees in Auchindoune’s arboretum include several from Tibet. Acer, Sorbus, Salix, Nothofagus and Malus are just some of the trees that are maturing here. Additionally the Arboretum’s system of traditional hedgerows includes native species. These are naturally attracting to the local wild life.
The Garden is open with an honesty box with a recommended donation of £5 per person. Open Tuesdays and Thursdays in May, June, Jul y and August from 10am – 4pm and at other times by appointment. Additionally we can arrange guided tours of the garden. Please use our contact us page to get in touch.
Finally, limited car parking is signposted on arrival at Auchindoune House.