OMG! I never knew that the gardens of Haystoun House on the south side of the town were so extensive and so gorgeous! The house itself has belonged to the same family (with name changes along the way) since 16 something, 1635 maybe, and has been added to over the centuries to form a beautiful house with views of the neat formal gardens to the side and the wild yet organised garden in the valley behind, The gardens too have been extended over the years, and it was quite exciting to think that one of my ancestors, head gardener there once upon a time long ago, maybe had a hand in the layout, and worked on these very same vegetable plots and propagation beds behind the neat pin stripe lawn and well organised flowerbeds. Below in the valley are the beautiful woodlands with paths leading round to the man-made loch and its artificial island near the far end. How I covet the view from the garden over the loch to the wooded hillside beyond. A small stream – a burn to us Scots - rushes down the lower slope to flow eventually under a wooden bridge and into the loch. It is so beautiful. I could have admired that scene all day an never tired of it. The light rain gave the panorama a hazy fuzzy look, which I have to say I think is beautiful. Gee, if it weren’t for the rain we wouldn’t have all this wonderful scenery to admire. Still, it would be a different sort of beauty you’d see on a fine day with blue sky, sunshine and fluffy clouds (or not), but I loved today’s look with the light giving a kind of blue tint to the hillside and its trees.
We took the walk around the loch, only completed in the 1980s but looking so much more established than you’d think those few years would have allowed. A small rowing boat sat casually at the water’s edge, and wild flowers grew in abundance along the shore. In the water at the edge of the island a pair of swans with new family, hatched only on Saturday, were swimming and grazing. Two of the cygnets were swimming alongside their graceful parents
the azaleas and rhododendrons were in full flower. The oranges, pinks, creamsreds and purples mixed beautifully together with the blues and whites of the bluebells – a wild garden that has been well organised by today’s gardeners.
Morag and Mike framed by an old fallen tree.
In a clearing you will find this giant acorn, cleverly built from layers and layers of pieces of slate…
…and a couple of stone pigs – wild boars? - were hiding near the end of the woodland path.
Back at the house, afternoon tea was being served in one wing, in a barrel-vaulted room containing a huge arched fireplace, and decorated with paintings, presumably of bygone family members or eminent friends, and a large wall clock of the type I have only ever seen on tables or mantelshelves – French, perhaps?
This is a close-up of the portrait at the end of the long room, of Sir John Hay proprietor of Smithfield and Haystoun in the early 1800s. I wonder if great great great grand-uncle Andrew worked for him?
We’d call it a doocot,( a DOOket), doos being the Scots word for doves, so here are a couple of the Haystoun doos! Others were nesting inside, and more sat on the roof. Their eggs and the birds themselves would have been a tasty meal in years gone by.
At last , after a quick purchase at the plant stall – two fuchsias for me – it was time to leave. How wonderful it would be if these gardens were open to the public more often, but at least under the “gardens open Sunday” scheme, we do get to see it once every couple of years, as they alternate years with another garden I am keen to see – Portmore to the north of Peebles. ~Portmore next year then and back to Haystoun in 2012! Don’t want to wish my life away but I can’t wait!
Talk again soon.