Highlights from Museum Gardens
The Gordon Highlanders Museum Gardens, which had fallen into disrepair since the time of Sir George Reid were extensively redesigned and laid out as a gift to the regiment by Dr Tom Smith in 1997. They are also testament to the hard work and commitment expended by all of the garden team of volunteers.
The gardens are home to various forms of wildlife, from squirrels, butterflies, mallard ducks, thrushes, blackbirds, blue tits and of course Ben, the friendly neighbourhood cat.
A tour of the garden
Exiting from the conservatory, the first area of garden surrounding the seating area is the courtyard garden; a mixture of small trees, shrubs, herbaceous perennials and some spring bulbs. The focal point here is the small, variegated tree in the middle of the bed, Cornus controversa ‘Variegata’ (1). The branching habit is tiered and smothered in a mass of cream flowers in late spring. At the back of the bed is a white-stemmed Himalayan birch; Viburnum carlesii near the conservatory windows, fills the air with scent in May and the south wall is home to the climbing hydrangea, Hydrangea petiolaris from the Far East.
A short flight of steps ascends to the Walled Garden, where the central lawn is flanked by mixed borders and some notable specimen trees. The oriental hawthorn, Crataegus laciniata (2), is close by the path a few yards to the east of the steps and the columnar, evergreen next to it is Eucryphia x nymansensis ‘Nymansay (3), which has beautiful white flowers in late summer. Below it is a well-armoured Kalopanax tree (4), with vicious prickles from head to toe. Further along the path and hard by the small fountain-basin is a rapidly growing Dawn Redwood (5) from China and the nine clipped-sentinels that stand to attention around the garden are a fastigiate form of the native hornbeam (6). A fine specimen of Abutilon with lilac-coloured flowers grows against the south facing wall at the top of the garden, and at the foot of the wall, Agapanthus send up their blue balls of flower in August.
To the south of the Walled Garden and down a steep flight of steps is the Garden of Contemplation; a less formal area of undulating grass and trees, with a small border at the west end of perennial honesty (Lunaria rediviva) and candelabra primroses, beneath crab apples. A walnut grows beside the Craigie Burn (visible through a small water-gate) and two spectacular russet-stemmed trees with peeling bark grow at either end: to the east the birch, Betula albo-sinensis (7) and to the west a maple, Acer griseum (8), both from China. Along the top wall is a selection of small fruit trees and the highly scented Mexican Orange blossom, with glossy, dark, and evergreen leaves.
Returning to the Walled Garden a low stone doorway in the west wall leads into the Secret Garden; a small intimate seating area, surrounded by clumps of bamboo and overhung by tall trees. Amongst other shrubs there is a fine young specimen of Hydrangea a. subsp. sargentiana (9) with large velvety leaves and lacecap flowers of mauve and white.
A brochure giving a detailed history of the garden and its plants- ‘The Garden’ - is available to borrow from the museum conservatory or the main reception.