Scotland on Sunday, 29 August 2010. Antoinette Galbraith
Creating a garden on a rocky island moorland takes a huge amount of vision. Something artist Diana Mackie has plenty of.
When artist Diana Mackie planned a garden surrounding the croft overlooking Loch Dunvegan on the northwest coast of Skye with views over the Sound of Harris towards the Hebridean Islands she “wanted to create an impact.” With the help and support of her husband Alan it is a result she has certainly achieved. Even the drive on a single-track road across miles and miles of moorland, punctuated by whitewashed crofts with stunning views over the sandy bays and rocky cliffs leading to the sloping drive that curves down the field to Number Ten is unforgettable.
For Diana, an artist whose seascapes and landscapes are inspired by the ever-changing beauty of this coastline creating a garden on this wild coast was the ultimate challenge. Born and raised in Middlesex she was steeped in gardening from an early age. “My earliest memory is of hunting for my parents in the herbaceous border,” later moving to Skye where she eventually bought, Number Ten a croft, which now boasts the addition of two wings, one housing a studio and bedroom the other containing the gallery that showcases her work.
Initially the croft sat in the middle of a field, with sheep grazing right up to the house and a small patch of docken at the front door. Drawing on her training as an interior designer, her love of architecture and recent experience of designing the garden and helping with certain aspects of the nearby Three Chimney’s Restaurant, she set about creating a suitable setting that would harmonise with the surroundings. “I felt the main challenge was to have sympathetic boundaries as the site was a rectangle, isolated in the middle of a field. I wanted to absorb the house in eventually build up a natural looking copse sheltering a garden.”