If you’re able to visit Broadwoodside garden at Gifford in East Lothian you’re a/ extremely lucky and b/ unlikely to forget it.
Broadwoodside is a private garden. It only opens around once year for Scotland’s Garden scheme but Anna and Robert Dalrymple will host groups of discerning horticulturists and on this occasion made our small party wonderfully welcome.
The history of this special site goes back 500 years, but in 1998 it was little more than a pile of stones. Since then the investment of ambition; creativity; eccentricity; hard work and funding has produced what my hard-to-impress sister Laura concluded was ‘really the most perfect garden’, by the end of our visit.
The sculpture in the House Field called ‘A load of balls’ tells you right off the bat that the Dalrymples like a laugh and resident gardener Guy Donaldson (with Anna in our feature photo) says they corporately make up the garden’s design as they go along, but everywhere you look, shape, form, colour and texture combine to give the most lovely pastiches. There is horticultural genius under all that levity.
Unlike designs on a more grandiose scale, Broadwoodside is a ‘tasting menu’ of discrete experiences and courtyard gardens created in and around the former farm buildings.
When I describe the ‘Oregon Thornless’ blackberries mingling with ripening apples against the stone walls; the Tucrium chamaedrys (wall germander) drenched in bees; the opulence of Kirengishoma palmata in the central courtyard and the spectacular Angelica gigas covered in drunken wasps above Broadwoodside’s dark and mysterious tranquil pool, I know you’ll prick up your ears.
I could of course talk about how the late summer purple of Salvia ‘Amistad’ was keeping company with the soft insistence of Geranium ‘Rozanne’, but this was just one late summer day. The combination of linear structure and tolerance for nature’s waywardness is this garden’s hallmark all year-round.
And if you consider that all year-round you can enjoy the ornate aviary inhabited by William the African Grey parrot and how the grounds extend to include a temple folly (yes, honestly, big too), a cemetery befitting the Dalrymples’ love for their animals and imported artefacts of extreme quirkiness, you’ll be desperate to get that annual opening date in your diary!
Broadwoodside has been described by countless stellar horticulturalists. Most recently Carole Drake wrote in Homes and Gardens: ‘Broadwoodside is a serious garden that refuses to take itself too seriously.’ I couldn’t put it any better myself.
Broadwoodside, Gifford, nr Haddington, East Lothian EH41 4JQ opens annually for Scotland’s Gardens scheme. For more information, visit broadwoodside.co.uk
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