The Whitehouse captured mine and my husbands imagination back in the autumn of 2011 when we took a look around it’s garden, a garden that covered nearly 5-acres of diverse terrain where two streams meet and wind there way through a small arboretum. We came across a small lochan flanked on one side by a stand of monkey-puzzle trees a wooded del and a ruin planted with a Tulip tree. The totem pole monkey-puzzle made us smile and wonder at its ability to even exist. What a wonderful surprise we had that day…the seed was sown.
While the garden had been the key to why we worked so hard to bring the house into the 21st century it has for a while been the poor relative but we are now able to embark on adding another era to the Whitehouse’s horticultural history.
The Whitehouse it’s past and it’s past inhabitants
I now write what I have come across in notes from a visitor book, locals and documents so I may not be one hundred percent accurate in what I say but of course this can be amended if new or different information comes my way.
During world war two Loch Ewe became a very busy naval harbour. The Russian Artic Convoys left from Loch Ewe on their arduous and dangerous journey to Russia. The MOD at the time out numbered the local population and it was said there were that many boats side by side in the loch you could have walked from one side of Loch Ewe to the other without touching the water. Towards the end of the war Naast was chosen as a site for a water tower and a pumping station to provide water to these ships moored in Loch Ewe, you can see plans of the Admiralty Pump Station (now known as the Whitehouse) in the history of Naast in the section The History of Naast.
The Admiralty Pump Station I believe from local knowledge never really fulfilled it’s brief as the war came to an end either before or around the time it was finished. There are still people in Poolewe and area who helped to build the pump station. One such man, Donnie was working his apprenticeship over at Aultbea when him and three other young men were seconded to labour on digging out the foundations. They were not best pleased with there labourers pay and downed tools until their voices were heard.
I’ve not heard much about the Whitehouse’s history between the end of the war and the early 1970’s before it was owned by the Edwards. Mr Edward was the Estate Factor of Inveran and turned the Admiralty Pump Station into a home and probably gave it the name The Whitehouse. It was resold around 1983 to a Mr and Mrs Gibson and their two sons. It’s of interest that Mr Gibsons parents made the private garden Glenarn special with its collection of Rhododendrons. With this family connection it’s evident why a small arbouretum came to be in such an unlikely place as Naast. There has been a connection past and present with local garden Inverewe Mr Gibson was Inverewes Property Manager for a number of years with the currant Head Gardener now owning the Whitehouse.
I feel privileged we have come to be its carers, and have an interest in developing the arboretum and natural water garden.
Strong winds of up to 100 miles an hour in January made quite an impression on the garden. About twenty trees sucombed to the Westerly wind with numerous more suffering root rock.
We started clearing a stand of pines nearest the house, the rings show they were planted around the early 1980's in the Gibsons era. We were sorry to see them down as they were a good size but the view to the Sutherland Mountains is more in view now a silver lining to the cloud.
We saw 2015 out with the removal of numerous Lodge pole pines in the area east of the house. The bon fires have been a plus!
Further winds are having affect on the remaing stand of trees east to the house, work to steadily remove the wind blown and dead specimins has allowed us to progress the clearing of the understory. The year started wet and unusually cold with a change in May and early June to dry sunny weather. Great for gardening.
We started a wild life record for our visitors to tell us about the birds and mamals they had seen. One of our visitors set up a moth trap and recorded the female Emperor moth amongst others.
More to come
This is an early picture of one of the bridges before the arboretum became established, it was probably taken from the Whitehouse window.
The tree in the forground on the right is a young Nothofagus (Southern Beech).