Five historic gardens you can enjoy for the first time in 2020

18 February 2020
Enjoy exploring historic gardens through the Scotland’s Gardens Scheme with History Scotland’s pick of five special landscapes open to the public for the first time this year.

Scotland’s Gardens Scheme is a charity that raises money for other charities by opening large and small gardens of throughout Scotland to the public. Most are privately owned and are normally inaccessible to the public at other times. 

1 Kilmadock House, Doune, 10 May

A former Parish Manse, Kilmadock House was bought by the current owners in 2011. An already established and beautifully mature three-acre garden it continues to evolve. Under the skilful eye of Jens Nielsen, ably assisted by Robert and Haydden the garden is entering its next exciting stage.

A stunning spring garden boasting a collection of rhododendron, both species and hybrid, Japanese acer, hostas and colourful spring bulbs. The pond and stream take centre stage with lawns and mixed borders leading into informal woodland planting. Maturing Wellingtonia, Metasequoia and Davidia sit comfortably within the natural forest backdrop.

Open: 10 May, 2pm to 5pm. Admission £5/ children free.

Directions: Stirling Road, Doune FK16 6AA. The entrance is directly off the A84 and will be well signposted from the village. Please take care when crossing this busy road. Disabled parking only at the house and no parking on the A84. There is parking throughout the village, but please park with consideration for other houses in the area.

2 Gardyne Castle, Angus & Dundee, 16 and 17 May

Gardyne Castle, dating from the 16th century, is one of the most attractive small castles in Angus.

After a turbulent history of battles with the neighbouring Guthries, it is now surrounded by an enchanting garden created by its current owners William and Camilla Gray Muir over the past sixteen years.

To the east, the walled garden runs down to the Denton Burn. The castle’s extraordinary stone-capped turrets overlook a long romantic double border, bursting with tulips and alliums in May. The castle’s southern front was extended in the 17thand 18thcenturies and is complemented by a large enclosed garden of box and yew mixed with white roses and lavender.

Beyond is an immaculate formal lawn surrounded by yew topiaries and specimen trees, with a gentle path leading down through an orchard. To the north, a new upper garden, created on an extraordinary pepper pot doocot, provides an area for quiet contemplation with white planting, a fishpond and the family’s collection of chickens. Beyond the formal gardens, the grounds merge into mature woods and parkland with a spectacular display of bluebells and romantic walks along the Denton Burn.

Open: 16 and 17 May, 2pm-5pm, admission £5/ children free.

Directions: By Forfar DD8 2SQ. Turn off the A932 at signpost to Pitmuies Garden. Go over two stone bridges and follow the road uphill past a small hamlet. Take the first road on the left, at the sharp right-hand bend take the private drive straight ahead (beside cream lodge).

3 Arbigland House, Kirkudbrightshire, 17 May

Arbigland House is an Adam-style 18th-century mansion surrounded by 24 acres of woodland gardens running down to a beach on the Solway Firth. The gardens date from the 18th century but the more formal areas were developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and are currently undergoing a programme of restoration and development.

There are 200-year-old trees lining the Broad Walk which runs down to the Solway and a huge variety of rhododendrons and azaleas; within the woodland are a range of features including a stream-fed lake and a Japanese garden, with a more formal sundial garden and sunken rose garden, all in the process of renewal. Amongst these are a diverse collection of mature trees and shrubs.

Open: 17 May, 2pm – 5pm. Admission £5/ children free.

Directions: Kirkbean, Dumfries DG2 8BQ. Take the A170 to Kirkbean. In the village turn off towards Carsethorn and, after 200 years, turn right and follow signs to John Paul Jones Cottage. After a mile or so turn left at the T junction through white gates and down the drive through ornamental  gates to Arbigland House.

4. Blebo House and Blobo Stables, Fife, 14 June

Blebo House sits in a beautiful formal garden surrounded by ancient yew hedges and walls covered with espaliered plum trees. Formal mixed beds of herbaceous plants and roses overlook parkland and Fife countryside. Many huge specimen trees including a statuesque Cedar of Lebanon. Beautiful summer house and a one-hole golf course. The house is surrounded by acres of flower-filled woodland which you are free to explore. 

Blebo Stables is to the south of Blebo House. This charming organic garden, in the original walled garden of the big house, is a cornucopia of delights with mature fruit trees, borders brimming over with flowers, heavily-scented roses and an ornamental pond. 

Open: 14 June, 1pm to 5pm. Admission £5/ children free.

Directions: Cupar KY15 5TZ. Five miles west of St Anders off the B939 between Pitscottie and Strathkinness. Bus from St Andrews or Cupar.

5 Underwood House, Ayrshire, 23 August

The garden was laid out in 1780 in the landscape style, fashionable at the time. The original features of the garden remain unchanged, with sweeping lawns, large specimen trees, with a natural pond and burn which runs through the whole garden. The woodland is being restored and replanted with specimen rhododendrons and hydrangeas and woodland carpeters. A formal pleasure garden is being created in sympathetic style. Underwood House provides activity, training and employment for young people with neurological conditions. in 2019 a beautiful sensory area was created by partner schools working with young volunteers from the Prince's Trust.

Open: 23 August, 12 noon to 5pm. Admission £5/ children free.

Directions: Craigie, Ayrshire KA1 5NG. South bound on A77 pass Hansel Village, take next left signposted Underwood/Ladykirk. At stone bridge take left, continue to Underwood Lodge. Pass the Lodge, go for 150 yards. Take left to Underwood House. From Ayr on A77 take exit to Symington, take first right, signposted Underwood/Ladykirk. Cross over A77 on to south carriageway.

Scotland’s Gardens Scheme

526 gardens will open their gates for charity across Scotland during 2020, 89 of which are opening for the first time. Plan your garden visits by visiting the website and select the area you’d like to visit to view details of all gardens opening locally. Follow on twitter @ScotGardens and Facebook @ScotlandsGardens.

Sixty percent of funds raised may go to charities nominated by each garden owner, with the net remainder donated to SGS beneficiary charities.