Being out in the countryside with my dogs gives me time to think. I’ve learnt the pleasure of solitude without being lonely, and that’s a good feeling for me.

Welcome to "Man with two dogs" - the family website for dog owners and dog walkers.

This is my countryside diary which appears each Saturday in the Dundee Courier newspaper.

Scottish country gardens

May 29th, 2004

BIG TREE country is what they call Perthshire, and quite rightly so when you see the magnificent stands of trees planted by the Victorians at places like the Hermitage near Dunkeld. And growing, apparently free seeded, in places like Glen Lyon and around Aberfoyle.

But bluebell country was just as apt a description when the Doyenne and I drove through the county on our way to the west coast to spend a few congenial days with congenial friends. The roadsides on the A984 between Coupar Angus and Dunkeld, and then up the A9 to Pitlochry, were just awash with brilliant patches of the flowers in amongst the trees and on the verges.

The Doyenne, who was round that way on business, came across the bluebell wood at Kinclaven, and told me the whole floor of the wood, so far as she could see, was just a solid carpet of blue. She had rarely seen so bonny a sight.

There's something very reassuring about going back to a place year after year, and we had looked forward to the familiarity of our annual visit to Kinlochewe and Loch Maree. That part of the Highlands still has lots of evidence of Victorian management with handsome Wellingtonias and Douglas firs, and rhododendrons just growing wild now.

Last year we discovered Attadale Gardens on Loch Carron side, and we went back again this year to properly explore what we think is the loveliest woodland garden we have visited in the Highlands. Although it predates the Victorians, the present layout was planted in the 1890s.

As is so often the case with the best west coast gardens, it lies in the shelter of steep cliffs and tall conifers, which makes it possible to grow so many almost tropical plants. Everything is so much in harmony with its surroundings, and ponds and paths draw the eye into the landscape.

What a wonderful place for youngsters to grow up in. One hundred year-old rhododendrons tangled amongst themselves form secret gang hideouts; an old wood has giant sequoia redwoods and mature native trees and is a tranquil place to stop in.

But everywhere there was colour – early rowan blossom, copper red maple trees, azaleas, tall candelabra primulas and every shade of green from native and imported flowers and foliage.

What an undertaking, and what commitment; and how generous to share it all with others. I haven't the space to tell you everything, so don't take our word for it; but if you find yourself in Wester Ross take some time to visit Attadale yourself.

Macbeth went to new kennels, and was on his own for the first time. We were slightly concerned in case he should miss his old friend, but when we collected him it appeared he had captured the hearts of all the girls, and had a thoroughly good time!

Written on Saturday, May 29th, 2004 at 11:51 am for Weekly.