An in­spired An­gus gar­den

In the lat­est of our oc­ca­sional se­ries fea­tur­ing gar­dens open­ing to the pub­lic un­der the aus­pices of Scot­land’s Gar­dens, Helen Brown takes a look at an An­gus gar­den brought back to life with imag­i­na­tion and loving at­ten­tion to de­tail

The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition) - - FEATURE -

VITA SACKVILLE- WEST’S iconic es­tate at Siss­inghurst in Kent was famed for its white gar­den, an in­spi­ra­tion to gar­den de­sign­ers ever since. The for­mal white gar­den at Gallery, near Hill­side, by Mon­trose is cer­tainly a strik­ing ex­am­ple of white used to great ef­fect and is only one el­e­ment of a fas­ci­nat­ing re­design that has pre­served and ex­tended its longestab­lished ex­ist­ing frame­work.

Mr John Sim­son and his late wife re­turned to An­gus to live in 1995. His fore­bears had lived there for many years and he had fond child­hood mem­o­ries of stay­ing with his grand­mother nearby. Al­though he spent most of his work­ing life away, the im­pe­tus to come back in re­tire­ment was strong enough for the cou­ple to buy the lovely 17th cen­tury house at Gallery and cre­ate a gar­den de­signed both to pre­serve its his­toric ele­ments and bring it into the 21st cen­tury.

Mr Sim­son ex­plained: “There had al­ways been a for­mal gar­den here but it had been ne­glected and needed at­ten­tion.

“One of the first steps we took, not be­ing gar­den­ers our­selves, was to take on Ron Stephen and he has done won­ders with the place. My wife trained as an artist and one of her art school col­leagues, Veron­ica Adams, be­came a gar­den de­signer so we

Gallery, Mon­trose DD10 9LA is open to­mor­row from 2- 5pm. Ad­mis­sion £ 4 ( chil­dren free), pro­ceeds to SG Ben­e­fi­cia­ries and Prac­ti­cal Ac­tion. con­sulted her about the struc­ture of the place, also tak­ing in­spi­ra­tion from the con­cept of ‘ gar­den rooms’ that we had en­joyed at Crathes Cas­tle.”

The re­sult is a gar­den of roughly one­anda- half acres de­scribed by Glen­doick’s Ken Cox as “a gar­den of theatre” with strik­ing fo­cal points and some­thing in­ter­est­ing around ev­ery cor­ner.

There is an axis path with a listed sun­dial and cir­cu­lar cen­tral ar­eas that form the link be­tween sec­tions such as the gold gar­den, sum­mer gar­den and old rose gar­den. The gold gar­den is one of the most re­cent de­vel­op­ments, over the past three years or so, with the golds, am­bers and yel­lows, with blue high­lights, cre­ated both by fo­liage and flow­ers in­clud­ing conifers, labur­num and pe­onies amongst many oth­ers.

A sunken gar­den was built by Ron us­ing Carmyl­lie quarry stone adding dif­fer­ent lev­els. Top­i­ary has also been re­shaped.

Ron ex­plained that many of the orig­i­nal old roses had suf­fered badly in the ter­ri­ble win­ter weather of re­cent years but new plant­ing has been un­der­taken and the roses are be­gin­ning to make their mark again — he reeled off great tra­di­tional names such as Cor­nelia, Fantin La­tour, Gertrude Jekyll, Queen of Swe­den, Eglan­tine and Em­press Josephine. One el­derly lady vis­i­tor was so im­pressed she de­clared she was “in rose heaven.”

When Ron came to Gallery the sum­mer gar­den was plain meadow land with fruit trees but now boasts plant­ing for both colour and tex­ture, in­clud­ing an in­for­mal rose hedge and banks of old yew.

There are also privet hedges through­out the gar­den.

The white gar­den, with its 17th cen­tury wall, is per­haps the most strik­ing area, cre­ated around a foun­tain and pond, adding the gen­tle sound of wa­ter to the vis­ual feast for the eye. More Carmyl­lie stone was used in hard land­scap­ing and Ron man­aged to source old flags for path­ways. A raised plat­form and per­gola at the back of­fers won­der­ful views of both gar­den and house.

“The first two years were prepa­ra­tion and that has paid off with some of the re­sults,” Ron ex­plained. He hand- dug much of the ground and added feed­ing with trace ele­ments. “We also al­tered ele­ments of the plant­ing plan to take into ac­count Scot­tish con­di­tions and what would grow well here.

“Gar­den­ing is all about pro­por­tion and there is enough space here to make sure ev­ery­thing works as a whole.”

Along­side the imag­i­na­tive plant­ing, there are also quirky ele­ments, from stone mushooms in the hosta bor­ders to ca­st­iron this­tles rear­ing their heads amongst the gen­uine fo­liage.

There is also a wood­land gar­den, with a walk tak­ing vis­i­tors past a flock of rare breed Castlemilk sheep and a wide bor­der of heathers on the out­side of the orig­i­nal gar­den wall. This leads down to the River North Esk with lovely views over both the river and the sur­round­ing land­scape.

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