East Lothian has a long and proud heritage of gardening, and has produced several horticultural pioneers. With its good climate and fertile soil, the county has often been called ‘the garden of Scotland’. Featuring private and public gardens, parks and designed landscapes from across the county, this exhibition showcases East Lothian in all its horticultural glory. There is something here for everyone – from the historical to the highly contemporary, from grand and stately to modest and cosy.
Amisfield Walled Garden (above) lies on the outskirts of Haddington. It dates back to the late 18th century and is one of the largest walled gardens in Scotland. It originally belonged to the Earl of Wemyss but was sold to Haddington Town Council in 1969 and subsequently fell into neglect. In 2013 it became a community garden managed by the Amisfield Preservation Trust and a large band of volunteers, who have recreated the original network of paths and are developing each sector of the garden with a different character.
The garden at Broadwoodside, near Gifford, is planted in and around a farm steading rescued from dereliction. The writer Kenneth Cox describes it as “one of Scotland’s most exciting contemporary private gardens, with excellent structure, imaginative use of objects and some of the most eye-catching planting in Scotland”. Pictured here is the inner courtyard with aviary.
The garden at Humbie Dean is the work of one man, Frank Kirwan, who has almost single-handedly created an ornamental and woodland oasis out of dense thicket and challenging terrain. Pictured here is the daffodil meadow, sandwiched between steep slopes leading down to two burns. The garden is planted for interest throughout the year and is open to the public on various dates from April through to August.
The Backlands Garden in Dunbar, just behind the High Street, is part of social enterprise The Ridge. The Ridge have developed it as an employability training project, and the trainees have transformed this abandoned space into something beautiful. Last year it expanded to include a new Sanctuary Garden (pictured here), a project that has involved the Dunbar Dementia Carers Support Group and Dunbar Grammar School.
Lauderdale Park in Dunbar is one of the many public spaces maintained by East Lothian Council, and this herbaceous border is something of a triumph; James, Jamie, Fraser and Kenny deserve some recognition for it. The park was originally the garden of the Earl of Lauderdale, whose head gardener George Brown was well known to John Muir’s grandfather. One of John Muir’s treasured memories of his childhood was of coming here with his grandfather, and feasting on apples and figs while the two older men chatted.
Greywalls lies adjacent to Muirfield golf course in Gullane; it was built by Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1901 as a holiday home for its golf-loving owner, but is now a hotel. The formal gardens are laid out to the south of the house, giving framed vistas across to the Garleton Hills (just visible in this image) and Lammermuirs. The original garden design is attributed to Gertrude Jekyll, although definitive proof has never been found. The owners describe Greywalls as “a quintessential example of an Edwardian garden as a place to promenade, of secluded seating areas where assignations can take place and of tea, cucumber sandwiches and lemonade served on the lawn”.
Archerfield Walled Garden, located between Dirleton and Gullane, served Archerfield House from the 18th century into the early 20th century and grew all manner of exotic fruits and vegetables. While it was mostly a kitchen garden, there were also some flower borders. A new team of enthusiastic gardeners is now busy developing the potager, productive tunnel, cut flower area, wildlife area (pictured here) and rose garden; there is something here for everyone, including children. The garden is open daily, all year round.