Garden of the Season – Amisfield Walled GardenJune 17th 2022
Why Should We Visit
At 8 acres in size, Amisfield is one of the largest walled gardens in Scotland. It is surrounded by 16 foot high stone walls and it sits within a country estate on the edge of Haddington. Since 2013 it has been maintained by Amisfield Preservation Trust whose staff and volunteers have reversed decades of neglect in order to return the garden to a beautiful and productive space. Today the garden provides horticultural training for people from all walks of life.
Story of the Garden
The walled garden once served Amisfield House, which was built in the 18th century for the Earl of Wemyss. At that time it provided fruit, vegetables and flowers for the house and its glasshouses raised pineapples, which were a new and exotic introduction and very costly to grow. Documents from the time showed that the Earl paid £30 for pineapple plants - the equivalent of £3000 today.
The garden remained in production until after the Second World War, when it became a market garden. By this time Amisfield House had been demolished and eventually the estate was sold to Haddington Town Council. The garden itself fell into disuse until a 99-year lease was signed by the Trust who set about the work of bringing it back to life again.
The original Union Jack layout of the beds has been maintained and an orchard has been developed using a large collection of heritage apple trees, including the local varieties, East Lothian Pippin and Lady of Wemyss. The high stone walls provide ideal conditions for growing trained fruit trees including plums, figs, apricots and cherries.
A wildflower meadow has been sown to support pollinators and wild flowers. There is also an area of woodland and, in order to extend the season of interest, a winter garden has been established, with willow, dogwood, birch and snake bark maples providing colourful stems and branches to contrast with the evergreen ground cover.
The circular pavilions that stand at each corner of the garden are reminders of the grandeur of the original Amisfield House. A gothic folly and a derelict lodge house are further relics of this once wealthy estate.
The large timber greenhouse is a new addition to the garden. Constructed this year, it will provide more space for growing and propagation.
Best Time To Visit
In summer the extensive herbaceous borders are filled with flowers and the vegetable beds are full of ripening fruit and vegetables. Volunteers from the local community work in the gardens every day, so there is always someone on hand to offer information about what plants and produce are being grown.
Any Recommendations In The Area
Trapain Law, which is visible from across East Lothian, is the site of an ancient hill fort and discoveries made here include the largest Roman silver hoard outside of the Roman Empire. The hill was already a place of burial long before the Romans arrived, at which time it was a settlement for the Votadini tribe. It’s a short but steep climb to the summit but walkers are rewarded with panoramic views towards Fife and across the local countryside.
Amisfield Walled Garden sits south of the A1, one mile east of Haddington.
Open: Mon - Fri 10am - 4pm
Sat 10am - 1pm
Tel: 07704 049572
Courtesy of The Herald