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Saturday, 29 March 2014

Happy Valley


Yes, there is a wee valley in Orkney, known as Happy Valley in the parish of Stenness.  It's now owned and managed by the local council, though there is a group called the "Friends of Happy Valley" who help maintain the garden and extend the planting. In 2011 it also became a local nature reserve.  Happy Valley is a very large garden, filled with trees, a babbling burn, and wild flowers, nestling in the bottom of a valley. It was created by Orcadian, Edwin Harold, from scratch between 1948 and the 1990s.  Edwin returned from WWII and wanted to live out a quiet existence in the valley. He maintained it until ill health prevented him and he died in 2005. Many folk in Orkney have fond memories of visiting the place either as part of a school trip to see the variety of trees (not so many in Orkney), or just to see Edwin and have a wee blether and a wee dram.

Work continues at Happy Valley to maintain his legacy. The old house has been renovated using traditional methods with a stone slab and turf roof, and lime pointing. New windows and doors but in the old traditional design.

Edwin also created various water features along the burn, and he even had a small generator powered by the burn to give some light to the house. A small waterfall.....


A fleur-de-lis atop the waterfall and a wee bridge....


The weir at the end of the garden......


Edwin created pathways and steps around the garden, taking you on a journey through this Wonderland...


The burn rushes along at some points, and meanders quietly at others...


And borders farmland on either side...


The water wanders through the trees....


Early Spring the area is covered in snow drops, later in March the daffodils are out, and in April or May the bluebells bloom - April this year I think as the winter has been so mild....


I just love the snowdrops..... they are the first flowers I am aware of starting to bloom in the late winter...and always reassure me that the year is starting again and Spring will soon follow.


And sure enough, new growth on the trees.....


As you can see, some trees have a tough time in Orkney. These have been bent by the wind over the years....


I love the tiny lichens on the branches....


New steps have been built into the landscape to lead to a newly planted area.....


And here are some of the young willows planted a few years ago.


I love visiting at different times of the year.  Happy Valley has something to share whenever you walk through the gate.....


And it's full of surprises....a Monkey Puzzle tree!  And a New Zealand Flax (I think) and in flower too.


I hope you enjoyed your meander through Edwin's Happy Valley!

16 comments:

  1. I love Edwin's Happy Valley. How wonderful it is still being tended and cared for.

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    1. It's much loved within Orkney and I think there would be an outcry if it wasn't well cared for! It's a lovely peaceful place. I love visiting.

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  2. What a peaceful little oasis Happy Valley is. And yes, the last photo is a NZ flax ... they love damp feet and heaven help a householder who has the misfortune to have them growing above sewerage pipes!! [speaking from experience]. Spring is definitely advancing in Orkney:)
    I love the brightly painted doors ... would that have been the norm two centuries ago? But they add a touch of today to a place of yester-year.

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    1. Oh my goodness! Well no worries at this place as no "facilities"! But I'll bear that in mind were I to be offered one..... Yes those colours are from a palette of 19th century I think - the building was renovated under conservation rules so they would have used colours and materials of the time.

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  3. Happy Valley. It sounds and looks like a magical place. Just beautiful. Thanks Sian for the tour.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it. It is one of my favourite places...

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  4. Adding this to my list of places I need to see....and in just TWO WEEKS now! Looking forward to visiting Orkney again!

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    1. Woo hoo - not long now!! Get in touch - we need to meet! Yes DEFINITELY visit - should be daffs and maybe bluebells out when you visit

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  5. Beautiful Happy Valley!! It reminds me alot of Spirit Rock Conservation Area outside of Wiarton, Ontario here....
    Thank you for the lovely tour Sian!
    Sherri-Ellen & Nylablue

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it. I love spaces like this.... so magical.

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  6. It is a beautiful place. Thanks for commenting. I love your profile picture. I wonder if Madam Button sees that when she looks in the mirror ;-)

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  7. How gorgeous and so unexpected, given the bleak, bare beauty of most of Orkney. One of my sisters lived on Orkney Mainland for a while and I remember her telling me about Happy Valley and the garden, so it's good to know it's being cared for.

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  8. Oh! And I've been there now, too! Such a lovely place, so peaceful, and utterly different to everything around it - thanks for this post!

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