My trip to Amisfield Walled Garden as was somewhat accidentally, being tagged on to lunch with my Mother in Haddington, East Lothian. So apologies but I didn’t have my camera with me and therefore the pictures aren’t as high quality as I would like, but I think it’s worth sharing with you none the less. This tour took place is late July.

 

CLASSICAL INSPIRATION

The walled gardens were part of Amisfield Park House’s estate, a Palladian mansion dating from the 1750’s. The house was demolished in the 1920’s but the grounds remain with a dovecot, stables, summer house and of course The Walled Garden.

After various changes of use, since 2006 the garden has been tended by the Amisfield Preservation Trust volunteers, a community project, and is open April to September.

Sussex Prairie Garden

SHELTERED GARDEN

I was NOT expecting such a huge space (8 acres) surrounded by a very grand beautifully finished 16ft wall. Each corner has a classical pavilion, topped with a domed roof and oculus! There was no missing where the inspiration came from, each like a mini Pathenon, although the oculi may have been glazed in the past to keep the Scottish weather out.

It was common for grand houses fruit and vegetable gardens to be walled gardens, creating a micro-climate which increased the growing season and allowed less hardy produce to be grown. However my sister says that Haddington is always windy. So perhaps that’s why they decide to have flower beds and walk ways within the walled garden too, so the ladies could promenade in shelter.

 

Naturalistic Planting
Naturalistic Planting 2

Image Copyright – Adam Cochrane

You can see the layout from the aerial photograph; the pathways have been reinstated to the original plans dating to the gardens formation in the 1700’s.  With a set of interal intersecting pathways, which divide the square into 8 equal triangular beds, with a circular bed in the centre and long beds against each wall. Much of the space is laid to lawn however there is still plenty of lovely planting to enjoy.

 

ORANGE HOTSPOTS

We entered on the East wall (West Facing) and walked south along a lovely herbaceous border, a multi-coloured array of red Monarda didyma, pink Geranium macrorrhizum, acid yellow Alchemilla mollis, orange Crocosmia,  Helenium and deep red Knautia macedeonia, punctuated with variegated Phalaris arundincea and orbs of Echinops ritro. The latter I struggle to grow in London clay but I’ve seen growing wild in abundance, on the railway banks in the rich loam of East Lothian. I particularly liked the orange of the day lily Hererocallis against the silver of the Stachys byzantina in the foreground, off-set by Stipa gigantea behind. There are also large shrubs and espaliered fruit trees at the back of the beds.

Sussex Prairie Gardens

UNION JACK Layout

Most of the internal paths are planted up with trees, many of them apple trees including varieties linked to the area and an avenue of Hornbeams under planted with Lavender and Alchemilla mollis. The West Wall (east facing bed) is planted with paler colours herbaceous beauties such as; Astrantia, Geraniums, Acanthus mollis, Hermocallis, Rhus and roses for contrast.

The South facing wall bed (North Wall), unsurprisingly, was once home to the green houses and this section is now given over to vegetable and less hardy fruit growing.

 

SENSORY GARDEN

Before the North Wall we turned right and cut through the middle of the space, past the rose garden and on to my highlight; the sensory garden with beds planted up in strips of Salvia, Calamagrostis acutiflora, Phlomis russeliana, Perovskia, Eryngium and yellow Achillea millefolium. I am not normally a fan of yellow flowers but I found this planting combination wonderful and I will be using it in future designs.

Sussex Prairie Gardens
I doff my cap to those hardworking volunteers who are making an impressive space so beautiful and productive. Oh and since I went, there is now a birds eye video view on the website http://www.amisfield.org.uk which is worth checking out too! I would whole heartily recommend a trip to Amisfield, if you are in Edinburgh or East Lothian.