A couple of years ago I visited a beautiful garden on the edge of Peebles where an ancestor of mine had once been head gardener. The garden is called Haystoun, and used to belong to the Hay family, who owned the Hay Lodge and Hay Lodge Park that I’ve mentioned on many occasions. The estate was huge. The Gardens circle the old farmhouse of Haystoun, which is now the family residence, and are only open to the public one Sunday every two years. I missed seeing them on the open day, but was pleased to find that the U3A Garden group had booked a tour of the gardens with head gardener Eric.
We gathered in the courtyard at the farmhouse, a building that has evolved over several centuries, the oldest part being the bit of the house with its gable facing us – the bit on the right of this closer view, complete with dovecote – or doocot, as we say in Scotland.
I was quite sure the dove on the left was an ornament, as it stood perfectly still for several minutes, but of course you’ll have spotted that in the photo above it is in a different position. Yes, it was real.
It was pouring with rain, and Eric met us, clutching his umbrella, to take us around the woodland gardens and the walled garden now comprising the lawn and flower beds – the back garden of the house - as well as veggie and nursery gardens. First into the woodland garden along grassy paths…. past azaleas, rhododendrons and blue poppies…. along by the burn….
and its waterfalls..
past more rhodo-dendrons…
to the loch, where a rowing boat is moored on a small beach. This is the most beautiful spot! I’d love a view like this from my house! I know I already do have a lovely view from my house but this is better!
We walked round the loch, watching the cygnets and their parents on the shallow water - apparently there are seven young, but we only glimpsed two –and came back to the formal garden and the greenhouse.
Neat box hedges and patios decorated with the ubiquitous urn, broke up the large swathe of lawn.
and here we get another story from Eric.
The rain hadn’t stopped all afternoon, but it hadn’t dampened our spirits. How could it in a garden like this? We returned to the courtyard and were invited into one of the rooms of the old house for tea and biscuits. It was just what we all needed! Finally with a vote of thanks to Eric, it was time to leave. Two years till we see the garden again, under the Scotland’s Open Gardens Scheme.
Talk again soon.