Secret Gardens - Eat Walk Edinburgh
 

Secret Gardens

Well not really that secret as they are shown on Google maps, but they are off the beaten track, so you do have to go looking for them. Coming out of lockdown we have been visiting several gardens over the summer. Having spent quite a bit of time in our own garden we have begun to appreciate the work that has gone into some of the gardens we have seen.

On a trip back from visiting friends in Fetterangus, who do have a very lovely garden but presently not open to the public. We stopped at Pitmuies Garden off the A90 between Brechin and Forfar. A lovely garden in full bloom as we visited in July.  It certainly took us by surprise as our previous visit to gardens were often at country house where everything was done on a grand scale. This was a larger than your average city garden but even so it was amazing what they had managed to fit in it. There is an honesty box so bring along some cash to leave. Afterwards you can drive onto Arbroath for a bite to eat and pick up some Arbroath smokies to take home.

 

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Pitmuies Garden
Pitmuies Garden
Arbroath Smokies
Arbroath smokies

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This made us look out for other similar gardens and after a visit to National trust for Scotland Inveresk Lodge garden. We spotted another small garden on Google maps nearby called Shepherd House Garden in Inveresk.

It is open Tuesday and Thursday, but you can drop them an email and make an appointment to view out with those times. We were lucky enough to be shown round and got some interesting background on the creation of the garden. There is lovely dovecot with white turtle doves, chickens running around and lots of secret areas.

One tree in the gardens is one of only two in Scotland and it had been bought in Woolworths in Musselburgh in the 70’s.

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Shepherd House Garden
Shepherd House Garden
Shepherd House
Shepherd House

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Dr Neills Garden in Duddingston is another local Edinburgh garden that is worth a visit, presently only open Tuesday, Thursday & Friday 10-2pm and 12-4pm on Sunday. We parked on a Sunday outside the Commonwealth pool and walked up to Dunsapie Loch as we have seen on Facebook there are Otters, but had no luck as it was mid-afternoon. Best to be there early in the morning or near sunset. So instead of walking back the way came we went down Jacobs ladder. Which is not a ladder but a path with 210 steps which is fine on the way down, but I imagine not so great on the way up.

In 1963, two married doctors, Andrew and Nancy began work on part of the Duddingston Glebe (church land) known as The Calves Field, and Dr Neil’s Garden was born.  The doctors liked to encourage their patients to assist in the Garden, thus allowing them to benefit from healthy outdoor activity and the tranquil setting beside the Loch.

In 1997, Dr Neil’s Garden Trust was formed, in order to take over the running of the garden, and to safeguard its future.  The Garden Trust is a registered charity.

In the garden there is a tower built for storing curling stones used when the nearby Duddingston loch freezes over.

As well as Dr Neills Garden, there are lovely plants and wildlife to be seen in and around Duddingston loch at the foot of Jacob ladder.

Why not finish off the visit in the oldest pubs in Edinburgh the Sheep Heid Inn in Duddingston village for a drink or a bite to eat? They also have two old fashioned skittle alleys.

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Dr Neill's Garden
Dr Neill's Garden
Trees in Dr Neill's garden
Trees in Dr Neill's garden

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One that we have still to visit and to my embarrassment had not heard of until we saw it on Susan Calman’s Secret Scotland Channel 5 programme. It is a Japanese garden near Dollar. I lived in Alloa as child and have been back many times to the Hillfoots, but I hadn’t heard of the garden before.

The gardens originally created by Isabella ‘Ella’ Christie after being inspired by her adventures in the Far East in 1906-07.
On her return to Dollar in Clackmannanshire, Ella had the burn dammed in a 7 acre hollow at Cowden Castle, creating a loch.

After her death in 1949 the gardens slowly fell into decline and became overgrown.

In 2008 The garden was handed over to Miss Christie’s great, great niece and 2013 Professor Masao Fukuhara from Osaka University of Arts, Japan appointed to restore the garden. You can now buy tickets to view the gardens and they have a lovely tearoom to relax in afterwards.

Japanese Garden
Cowden Garden near Dollar with Japanese theme

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Sandeman Garden
Sandeman garden photo by Design Heights

In Edinburgh Old Town  there are some lovely little gardens and during the summer there is a secret garden tour of the Royal Mile run by Greenyonder tours.

Sandeman House Garden belongs to the Scottish Book Trust and is just off the Royal Mile, in Trunks Close which is open to the public during the day. (photo from design heights web site)

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Chessels court and Dunbar close are two other green spaces just off the Royal Mile and we visit these on our Canongate Brunch Tour.

Chessels court original built by Chessel but saved from demolition by Patrick Geddes who believed greens space were important in town planning. Bit of a hero of mine amongst other things he coined the phrase “think globally act locally”. Dunbar Close near the Canongate Kirk is a surprisingly large garden and great place for people working in the area to have their lunch break.

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Chessels Court
Chessels Court photo from the secret garden atlas
Dunbar Close Gardens
Dunbar Close Gardens Photo from edinburghoutdoors.org.uk

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These are just a few of the gardens that I have seen I am sure there are many more that I have not. So as always happy to receive suggestions to add to my list.

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