Garden of the Season – Falkland Palace NTSJune 7th 2021
Falkland Palace is one of the oldest gardens in Scotland, a place where kings and queens have walked amongst the flowers and trees. Many of the herbs grown in the Physic Garden today would have been familiar 500 years ago as sources of food and medicine and some of the apple trees that grow today in the historic orchard would have been varieties eaten at the time.
The walls surrounding the palace give warmth and shelter to a spectacular wisteria, which in late spring is heavy with fragrant, blue flowers. Climbing roses thrive too as does ceanothus, a native of California that enjoys the added warmth that the stone provides.
The further away you get from the palace the more relaxed the garden becomes and there are meadows filled with wild flowers and a living willow labyrinth that children love to explore, as well as many mature trees and thick shrubberies around the Maspie Burn that flows through the estate.
In essence it is a Victorian reconstruction of a 17th century garden and there are bits and pieces from all eras to discover. It’s a fine reminder of the fact that gardens are works of art that change and evolve. At Falkland, that also involved going under the plough during two world wars when flowers gave way to potatoes.
The twin ponds with their surrounding of stone paving and clipped yews resemble something that you might see in the garden of a Home Counties mansion, but they somehow seem at home amongst the smooth green lawns and weathered stone walls that spread out from the palace.
Much of the landscape around the palace has been maintained as an elegant combination of smooth grass and topiary. It’s an unfussy but effective way of showing off both the palace and the gardens at their best and helps to make an impact on visitors. It’s a reminder that when it comes to creating an atmosphere, less is often more. However if you are visiting in June, don’t miss the recently-reinstated Peony Walk for some over-the-top exuberance.
The real tennis court is the oldest functioning example of its kind in the UK. It’s not hard to imagine Mary Queen of Scots returning a serve here or berating the umpire over a line call. And pop into the Victorian glasshouses where pelargoniums, cacti and succulents bask in the warmth.
The gardens are open 11am until 5pm from Wednesday-Sunday until October 31.
Entry is £6.50/£5. 01337 857397. www.nts.org.uk