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Gardeners Log July 2012

Earlshall, Leuchars in the Kingdom of Fife.

It was a superb day. The sun shone and it was lovely and warm in the beautiful gardens. Prior to our visit we endured day after day of heavy rain so we were delighted to enjoy good weather.

Our host, Paul Veenhuijzen, welcomed us to the garden and entertained us with the history of the Castle and the topiary which is most impressive. The yew trees were one hundred years old when they were brought from a garden in Edinburgh. They have grown at Earlshall for one hundred and fifty years.

We did enjoy our walk in the garden followed by a picnic lunch.

A picture is worth one thousand words and I will let my pictures tell you about the garden.

The garden is open twice a year as part of Scotlands Gardens. Parties may apply for a visit by arrangement on request.

Scotlands Gardens web address

You may apply by email to

The wonderful 250 year old Yew topiary in the gardens of Earleshall.
Robert Lorimer whose parents owned Kellie Castle in Fife restored Earleshall over one hundred years ago. Monkies were a favourite feature and are to be found in many castles he worked on in his lifetime.

Dumfries and Galloway 2012

Taking the scenic route by Talla Dam and Megatt Water we had tea and coffee by St Mary's Loch. On cue an RAF jet shot over the loch and disappeared towards the White Mare's Tail. Our first port of call was Craigieburn. The garden and nursery were strangely quiet. No staff were to be found. Buddhist prayer flags hung despondently and prayer wheels sat motionless. The large trees could be thinned out to let more natural light into the garden.

On to Shambellie Walled Garden where were welcomed by Sheila who has a great knack of cheering folk up. The garden was as beautiful as ever with much to see.


The delights of Shambellie Walled Garden await.


On the way to our comfortable hostel at the Haugh of Urr we had a peaceful wander about the beach at Rockcliffe. This was proving to be a very relaxing holiday.

The girls explored the shops in Castle Douglas which claims to be "a food town". In the sense that has the traditional shopping street we all enjoyed fifty years ago its has a right to make this statement. Butchers, Bakers and maybe even Candle Stick makers. 

Real mealie puddings were bought and other delicacies and goodies. The following day saw a repeat of the raid for a shorter time. They knew where to go.

A highlight of our tour was a visit to Elizabeth MacGregor's Nursery at Ellenbank in Kirkcudbright. The walled garden is stunning at this time of year and the plants on sale mirror the plants in the garden. I don't describe gardens as stunning very often if at all. So this was special.


Ellenbank Nursery, Kirkcudbright.


The use of colours is different from many gardens. Similar colours together work really well. Elizabeth has a talent for putting plants together with similar colours and a variety of textures which makes for an interesting display.

On our way east from Kirkcudbright we dropped into Bellymack farm, near Lauriston, a feeding station for over seventy Red Kite. It is amazing to see and hear Red Kite at such close quarters. Following our visit we kept sighting and hearing the bird in various parts of Galloway including in the Haugh of Urr.

Threave Gardens and Estate never disappoints. The gardens were immaculate and worth a few hours of anyone's time. The woodland garden is brightened by drifts of candelabra Primula. The walled garden is full of promise of fruit and vegetables. A very fine crop of potatoes was being dug up.

Many new sculptures have been introduced to Threave which adds to the visual impact of the garden.

We were in for another treat. The magnificent landscaped gardens of Corsock House welcomed our by now weary bones. Once we started the wonderful walk from the house to Corsock Loch we could be nothing but refreshed, invigorated and very pleased with our afternoon.


This is just a hint of the magnifcent landscape at Corsock House.


Water features on a grand scale, sculptures, trees which might be record breaking, Rhododendrons aplenty and friendly folk to welcome us see us part of the way round. Some late flowering Rhododendrons were in flower. One of the most striking being Polar Bear. 

An excellent way to draw to close our three days in one of the most beautiful parts of Scotland. They often say that Galloway doesn't get as many visitors as it deserves. Make the most of your time there before it gets “discovered” by the masses.


Manderston House, Duns.

We spent the day walking the gardens and grounds. Some of the party visited the House and were delighted with what they found. The silver staircase was of great interest. 

The wet weather this year has meant that weeds are proving hard to beat and the Head Gardener was asking for volunteers to do some weeding.


Volunteers? Just the job. Many gardens we visit depend heavily on volunteers. The National Trust for Scotland gardens are a good example of this. Volunteers bring enthusiasm and a good deal of committment to the gardens they work in. They become valued members of the team. Have a wee blether next time you meet one. They are usually happy to tell you about their experience and how they came to be working in the garden.