Ruined Gardens


We’re just in from a marvellous walk through the snows.  Started at medieval bridge over the Till river, walked downstream to its junction with the Tweed, ice crunching against the banks, then up the side of the ravine to Twizel Castle.  It has a core of 16th century building, but was much fancied up, but never completed, in the late 18th century.  It’s a lovely place, and once had a garden.

I mean to spend more time there, for the gardens bones still stick up through the rough pasture: signs of terracing, of the main formal approach to the house, of sunken areas (very sketchy) that may have been ponds, perhaps flower beds…

The original castle was meant to protect, or extract dues for crossing, the bridge far below.  But it’s dramatic site, gorge on one side, flat pastures on the other, suggest design-aware owners.  Google maps shows some of the features quite well.  Worth a proper survey?  In general,  apart from landscape trees (and there are none here) garden  plants don’t long survive the gardens in which they grew.  Still, I might keep an eye out for ancient things in the gardens nearby.  Anyway, all this is only an excuse to show a slice of a photograph of Twizel, all silvered by frost and snow.

And it brings back memories of another ghost garden in which we once stayed: The Banqueting Pavilion at Chipping Camden.  Owned, and restored, by the Landmark Trust, the pavilion is at one end of the terrace of a long vanished mansion.  But below the terrace on a frosty or heavily dew-hung  morning, the outlines of paths, flower beds, possible ponds with a mound where once their central fountain must have spurted, are all clearly visible.  Bewitching.

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About david stuart

garden writer and journalist, and occasionally a designer, with a garden in the Scottish borders, and his pal's gardens in Edinburgh, London, and Lincolnshire. They keep both of us very, very busy. Books I've written listed on my website, and dozens of articles and garden and plant pictures. Currently working on several new projects. One of these was to return to painting - see the blog - and which is proving exciting! www.david-stuart.co.uk
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