Features Ed Blog: Cowden Japanese Garden

cowden japanese garden

It’s an inauspicious start for Alex’s journey visit to the Cowden Japanese Garden!

Like a few of the “Friend” staff now, we’ve got a young child to include in our plans. Which means, of course, that plans don’t always go to plan.

Last Sunday’s plan was to take the in-laws to the Japanese Garden at Cowden, a visit inspired by Willie Shand’s own earlier in the year.

The night before I had visions of our Danny getting into a beautifully raked gravel garden and “rearranging” it. Or pulling the leaves off some beautiful, rare and delicate plants every time our backs were turned.

Before we even got there

Things started going slightly awry before we even reach the car park. First of all, I reversed swiftly into my father-in-law’s car. Then, after a lot of apologising, we got a mile down the road to find it blocked by a gathering of ducks.

cowden japanese gardens

Photograph by Alex Dempster-Corlett.

My wife had to usher them off the road, which was a first for her! Certainly something the rest of us had never done before either, but they were very obliging.

Turns out that we needn’t have worried about Danny causing chaos in the garden – he threw a tantrum before we’d left the car park! Just like his dad, though, a snack seemed to do the job, and we had a chance to walk around.

It really was lovely. Not enormous – but in a nice way, as you had time to explore every nook and cranny. And, as I’m guessing is the point, plenty of time to sit and just take it in – let the calm of it wash over us.

Lunch then home!

One choc-chip brioche kept him quiet while we explored, and soon we were settled down for an early lunch. A wee shed with a bench in it gave us the perfect opportunity to enjoy our food without worrying about the weather.

cowden japanese gardens

Photographs by Alex Dempster-Corlett.

It was bright in the garden, but nestled at the foot of the steep Ochils, the rain clouds were visibly stuck on the hills above us and dumping precipitation.

Visitor numbers seem really controlled these days, now that you have to book ahead for most things. I must say, it appeals to my need for control – to have your ticket sorted ahead of time! Plus places are never that busy, which means plenty of space to run around in.

Despite my wife’s mum growing up in Alloa, just down the road, and having travelled up and down the nearby A-road countless times, they had no idea this place existed.

Thanks again to Willie for highlighting another hidden gem, as he has so many times before!

Read more from Alex and the team.

Alex Corlett

Alex is the "Friend's" Features Editor, working with the talented Features Team to bring you everything from cryptic crosswords to financial advice, knitting patterns to international travel and inspirational real life stories. Always on the hunt for a new feature idea, Alex also enjoys cycling and loves a good tea room.