Ard Daraich started life as a croft. By degrees it grew into a holiday home for Constance Spry, the inventor of 'Coronation Chicken' and flower arranger for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.
In 1969 Norrie's parents heard that Ard Daraich was for sale when at a drinks party at Achnacarry Castle. They bought it because David Maclaren longed to grow plants on the West Coast and was then living at Newtonmore; too close to the Grampians to grow anything more than an alpine but better for fishing!
The Maclarens, father and sons, then started a hill garden and ericaceous plant collection. Norrie collected seeds and cuttings from friends, some made while producing the cutting edge Channel Four gardening series 'DIG'. At a time when garden broadcasting was stale and the BBC's Gardeners World was losing viewers, 'DIG' helped to change the image of gardening in Britain and led the way in making gardening a fashionable thing to do.
The garden has grown over the last 45 years and now has several hundred Rhododendrons and Azaleas along with an interesting selection of Sorbus (Rowan), with different coloured berries, and blazing autumn coloured Acers.
Anna also comes from a gardening dynasty. Her father, John Raven, classicist and amateur field botanist, wrote a ground-breaking book when having bed rest, ordered by his doctor. 'A Botanists Garden' describes the two family gardens, one in dry South Cambridgeshire and the other at Ardtornish on the west coast of Scotland. Anna arrived at Ard Daraich in 2000, soon after the death of Norrie's father and helped Norrie manage Ard Daraich whilst still running a gardening business in Bath.
In 2002 they married and Anna moved north, full time in July 2004. Anna is a painter, and having had three London exhibitions, she splits her time between painting, gardening and helping Norrie at Ard Daraich. They are now introducing herbaceous plants as under planting, clearing the bed rock to make a Real rock garden, and as the garden creeps up the hill, includes benches with dreamy views down Loch Linnhe and over to Glencoe.