Written by me, Fiona, this is the third of four informal reports of the Society visit and meeting in Scotland in 2018. As usual, a full set of articles by members of the group will be published in the next journal, Clematis International 2019. To those of you who came along, I hope it will bring back happy memories. To others, perhaps it will encourage you to join us on a future year. Scotland 2018 - Part 1 described the visits we made on the first two days - Edinburgh Walking Tour, Shepherd House, 101 Greenbank Terrace, Hunter's Tryst and Little Sparta. Scotland 2018 - Part 2 covered the next two days - Jupiter Artland, Kevock, the Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh including a visit to the Herbarium. And the fourth report features the walled gardens of the Kingdom of Fife and can be found at Scotland 2018 - Part 4. Today we transferred our base from Edinburgh to St Andrews in Fife. By 9:30 am we were all packed and loaded on the coach ready to set off. We travelled via Perth to stop at Parkhead Gardens and Branklyn Garden before heading for Fife and visiting Falkland Palace and Gardens before finally arriving at St Andrews.
Parkhead is an old farmhouse sited within an acre of beautiful gardens owned by Madeleine Tinson and her husband who bought it in 1982. The house is very old and Madeleine showed us some black and white photos of it taken many years ago. There are a number of mature trees including an outstanding Spanish chestnut which is 300 years old. Gradually Madeleine has developed the garden, adding plants and structure to give what is an interesting and colourful garden. Sited next to the house is a pond with a number of aquatic live and ornamental inhabitants.
Parkhead - the old farmhouse
Pond at Parkhead Gardens
The garden was gently terraced with meandering paths leading us past a large variety of unusual and interesting plants and shrubs and combinations of plants. We passed C. 'Marmori' growing through several medium shrubs and down the bottom of the garden we found what looked like C. 'Błękitny Anioł' BLUE ANGEL that was growing through a large shrub, possibly a camellia.
C. 'Błękitny Anioł' BLUE ANGEL
Madeleine also had a number of clematis growing in pots. A number caught my eye as we walked around including C. 'Evipo030' BIJOU planted in a very tall 'chimney' pot. This year I have tried growing a similar clematis in a pot so I was interested to see how the plant was growing here.
C. 'Evipo075' SAMARITAN JO
C. 'Evipo042' FLEURI
C. 'Evipo030' BIJOU
Detail of C. 'Evipo030' BIJOU flowers
Over the 30 years it has taken to develop the garden it has acquired a number of interesting additions and not just plants. There were a number of unusual bird sculptures in the garden including this lovely woodpecker that I thought was quite unusual. This final clematis picture is of a lovely viticella type of clematis cascading over a metal frame arch; the combination looked stunning.
Unusual but attractive woodpecker
Madeleine also holds the national collection of Mylnefield lilies. There were a large number in the greenhouse and more planted in the garden. When she started growing the lilies in 2008, Madeleine had concerns about how hardy they were, but she worked this out and now many grow well in her garden. We'd managed to pick the best time to see the lilies in flower, i.e. from early July. Jeff Jabco, our newly elected President, thanked Madeleine for opening her garden to us and sharing it and her knowledge with us. We had all enjoyed our visit and we hoped that she would enjoy our small token of our appreciation.
Thank you presentation to Madeleine Tinson from Jeff Jabco
Then it was on to the nearby Branklyn Garden. Branklyn is a National Trust for Scotland garden. It was once owned by Dorothy and John Renton, who bought the land in 1922 and had the house built in a design inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement. It looks today much as it did then. Though trial and error, the Rentons built up the garden including the rock garden and pond areas. Some of their plants still survive today, for example an Acer shirasawanum 'Aureum' planted in 1927.
Dorothy and John Renton's House
The Rock Garden
Acer shirasawanum 'Aureum'
Lower pond area
The arrival of Jim Jermyn as Property Manager/Head Gardener at the beginning of 2017 has helped to increase awareness of the gardens and their significance. The aim of the National Trust is to try and keep the garden as it was when in the time of the Rentons, with its collection of interesting, rare and unusual plants. However, one part of the rock garden had recently been replanted and there was signage to advertise that Meconopsis, the blue Himalayan poppy, is one of the national collections held by the gardens. Unfortunately, it was too late in the season to see these lovely blue poppies in flower.
Recently replanted rock garden
Meconopsis collection board
There were two plants that caught my eye. The first was a tiny C. marmoraria growing in a pot on the terraces in front of the café. Although we had kindly been given permission by Jim to eat our picnic lunches in the garden a number of people, myself included, enjoyed a cup of tea and an excellent scone at the café! The second was a lace cap hydrangea that looked at home in its setting. It was a lovely, peaceful garden to wander round and enjoy.
Lace cap hydrangea
Falkland Palace and Gardens
Our third garden for the day was Falkland Palace and its Garden, another National Trust for Scotland property. This was the first of 5 walled gardens which we would visit in Fife. The palace is in the centre of Falkland and from the road not much of the garden is visible. Once through the entrance the whole palace, or what is left of it, can be seen. Inspired by the grand châteaux of France, in the 16th century James IV and his son, James V, transformed this favoured retreat of the royal Stuarts. Although it fell into disrepair after 1660, Falkland Palace was saved from ruin by the 3rd Marquess of Bute in the 1890s so the inside of the palace is actually Victorian.
Falkland Palace from the outside
Falkland Palace from inside the garden
The pictures of Falkland Palace and gardens above were all taken in May this year when Ken and I we visited in preparation for the Society tour. It was quite overcast when the Society visited and the photos I took did not do the gardens justice. The gardens were designed by Percy Cane in the late 1940s and his work has been said to give Falkland Palace gardens outstanding value as a Work of Art. As you can see there is a large swathe of lawn with specimen trees and island beds. The gardens are a very pleasant setting for the palace.
C. montana in borders with castle ruins behind
Castle ruins from the garden
Colourful borders in May
View in garden looking towards the Walled Garden
One of the most notable things to see at Falkland is the tennis court where Mary Queen of Scots was reputed to play tennis. Today we think that the tennis court looks more like a squash court than a tennis court. Outside the tennis court was a lovely walled garden with a water feature in the centre. On one wall was a lovely C. 'Perle d'Azur'.
Tennis Court used by Mary Queen of Scots
Tennis Court signage
Walled Garden outside Tennis Court
C. 'Perle d'Azur'
There were a few other clematis in the gardens, but they needed searching out. One of the most colourful parts of the garden was the Physic Garden at the back of the house situated to the side of the ruined part of the palace. Physic gardens were used to grow medicinal herbs and some became the forerunner of botanic gardens. All too soon it was time to be on our way and we left for our accommodation for the next three nights at Agnes Blackadder Hall in St Andrews. For the fourth and last report, featuring the walled gardens of the Kingdom of Fife and a whisky distillery, please visit Scotland 2018 - Part 4. To reread the first report, please visit Scotland 2018 - Part 1. For the second one, please visit Scotland 2018 - Part 2.
Unknown clematis from the tangutica group
Corner of the Physic Garden
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