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    The Magic of the Scottish Parks & Gardens: Falkland Palace Garden

     

    The breathtaking landscapes of Scotland, its picturesque towns and villages and the friendly welcome of the Scottish people are attracting us there repeatedly. We love its old castles and abbeys but there is nothing to compare with the sense of wonder we feel each time we enter one of those “gardens of Eden” which give their touch of magic to so many places in the country. The Scottish gardeners are famous all over the world and we understand why when we visit one of these horticultural gems. We’ve already visited a number of them during our many trips in Scotland in spring and autumn and, fortunately, we still have many more to discover ;-).

    Pushing the gate of Falkland Palace garden © 2003 Scotiana

    Pushing the gate of Falkland Palace garden © 2003 Scotiana

    Pushing the gate of a secret garden…

    Many Scottish castles would not be the same without the magnificent gardens surrounding them. Today, I invite you to push the garden gate of Falkland Palace, one of our favourite ones. We can’t imagine this beautiful palace without its magnificent écrin de verdure 😉

    Falkland Palace and Garden © 2003 Scotiana

    Falkland Palace and Garden © 2003 Scotiana

    The beautiful Palace set in the middle of its gorgeous garden…

    For those who haven’t read my previous posts about Falkland Palace it can be useful to replace castle and garden in their historical context.

    Falkland Palace, its garden and wooded environment was a favourite place of the Stuart monarchs who loved to walk and hunt there. It was adopted as a residence by James II (1437-1460) and remodelled later for James IV (1488-1513) with the building of the east and north ranges, but the king was killed at the battle of Flodden Field in 1513 and with him 10,000 of his subjects as it is recalled in the very moving Scottish song ‘The flowers of the forest’.

    James V (1513-1542) followed in the steps of his father, embellishing the Palace in the Renaissance style to please Marie de Guise, his second wife of French origin, but he died prematurely at Linlithgow Palace, rather mysteriously indeed, after the battle of Solway Moss. The tragical fates of both kings imply that neither of them could finish his restoration work nor even enjoy his property.

    Falkland Palace South Range © 2003 Scotiana

    Falkland Palace South Range © 2003 Scotiana

    A lovely rose bed planted on the place where the North Range was built…

    Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1567), who was born only a few days before her father’s death and her son, James VI, much enjoyed Falkland Palace but they didn’t spent enough time there to do much restoration work. In 1633, Charles I (1625-1649), another ill-fated Stuart, was received with much pomp and ceremony at Falkland Palace and Charles II (1660-1685) also visited the place several times. Then the Palace went through a dark period, being much damaged by an accidental fire in 1654, while occupied by Cromwell’s troops, and it quickly fell into disrepair due to negligent maintenance under successive hereditary keepers.

    Much of the Palace was rebuilt by John Patrick Crichton Stuart, the 3rd Marquess of Bute, who acquired the  office of Keeper in 1887. Rosemary Hannay entitled her biography of this remarkable man, first published in 2012, The Grand Designer, which is revealing. Unfortunately, like his fateful royal predecessors, the Marquess also died prematurely, before completing his restoration works. His grandson Major Michael Crichton Stuart and his wife who resided in the Palace did appoint the National Trust for Scotland as Deputy Keeper in 1952. Though the Palace is still a property of the Crown, it is in the care of the National Trust for Scotland.

    built foundations © 2003 Scotiana

    Built foundations © 2003 Scotiana

    One of the landmarks of Falkland Palace Garden: the rebuilt foundations of the old castle…

    Falkland Palace replaced an earlier 12th century castle, which had been built on the site of a Pictish fort. The rebuilt foundations one can see in the garden mark the site where it used to be and which was found during excavations carried out by the 3rd Marquess of Bute. The castle had been flattened to the ground by King Edward III of England in 1337 during his last campaign to put Edward Balliol on the Scottish throne. It was rebuilt later and served as a prison in 1401 for the Duke of Rothesay, King Robert III’s eldest son who died there in 1402. In 1437, the Palace was confiscated by the Crown .

    Falkland Palace lawn © 2006 Scotiana

    Falkland Palace lawn © 2006 Scotiana

    A great variety of flowers, trees and shrubberies, some of them planted by the Marquis of Bute…

    Falkland Palace Garden is one of Scotland’s oldest horticultural sites. There are records of gardening which show that the garden already existed in the 15th century. In the Exchequer Rolls it is recorded that in 1453 and 1456 the garden produced eight barrels of onions.

    During the two world wars, much of the garden was used to grow potatoes for the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign.

    In 1947, it  was landscaped by Percy  Stephen Cane a garden designer who had previously worked for the king of Ethiopia.

    Aster amellus, the European Michaelmas-daisy © 2003 Scotiana

    Aster amellus, the European Michaelmas-daisy © 2003 Scotiana

    Aster amellus, the European Michaelmas-daisy…

    the star of the autumn garden…

     

    Falkand Palace Garden the lily pond © 2003 Scotiana

    Falkand Palace Garden the lily pond © 2003 Scotiana

    A quiet place to sit and relax…

    The rectangular pond with its funny conifers standing guard over the place.

    We didn’t see frogs hopping on the leaves of the beautiful water lilies 😉

    Falkland Palace lawn © 2006 Scotiana

    Falkland Palace lawn © 2006 Scotiana

    A vast expanse of thick and green lawn with a view onto East Lomond Hill

    James V and his courtiers would have loved to practice archery here…

    Falkland Palace back garden © 2006 Scotiana

    Falkland Palace back garden © 2006 Scotiana

     

    Falkland Palace Garden lawn and autumn urn© 2003 Scotiana

    Falkland Palace Garden lawn and autumn urn © 2003 Scotiana

    Trees on a green carpet

    Falkland Palace Garden autumn foliage in a big urn © 2003 Scotiana

    Falkland Palace Garden autumn foliage in a big urn © 2003 Scotiana

    Autumn foliage in a big urn…

    Falkland Palace Garden © 2003 Scotiana

    Falkland Palace Garden © 2003 Scotiana

    A general view of Falkland Palace Garden © 2003 Scotiana

    A general view of Falkland Palace Garden © 2003 Scotiana

    Trying to see more from above…

    After visiting the Palace it was a pleasure to linger in its splendid garden…

    Falkland Palace Royal Tennis Court © 2003 Scotiana

    Falkland Palace Royal Tennis Court © 2003 Scotiana

    And… the ultimate landmark of the garden of Falkland Palace: the famous Royal Tennis Court:

    the oldest court in the world but Janice will tell you more about it soon ;-).

    Falkland Palace garden chess game © 2006 Scotiana

    Falkland Palace garden chess game © 2006 Scotiana

    And what about a game of chess before leaving this great place ?

    So, à bientôt !

    Enjoy the peace of this wonderful garden !

    Mairiuna

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