Inspirational Showcase Gardens
Explore our small gardens each month, from the Winter Walk in the Woodland, through the timeless Oriental Garden, the ever-changing pattern of crops in the Potager, the summer warmth of the Sensuous Retreat, the different moods in the Calm Relaxed and Vibrant Exciting Gardens, to the Scottish Garden which has something for every season and taste.
Most of our themed gardens have a Designer Collection plant list that goes with them. These lists are available free from the garden centre when you visit us. The gardens demonstrate how our young plants will behave as they grow up. Our 5 'Avant Gardens' change each year and are much more fashion-led than our permanent gardens.
Our Avant Gardens area is divided into 5 different and uniquely-themed 'mini-garden' displays. This is the space we use as our temporary gardening 'laboratory' where we experiment and showcase different gardening techniques, styles and planting. This area is changes so our visitors will always find something new to explore.
Avant Gardens #1 – 'A Little Piece of the Prairies'
‘Prairie’ style planting uses grasses and North American origin hardy perennials to create a tapestry of colour and movement for the Summer and Autumn months.
Enjoy a few moments on our seat in the ‘Prairies’ – the mix of grasses swaying in the gentle breeze and flashes of colour from the perennial plants can be delightfully mesmerising and relaxing.
Leave the plants standing for the winter for wonderful effects when the frosts come. In March everything can be cut down to ground level, feed with fish, blood & bone and mulch with Mulch & Mix and then sit back and wait for the summer display!
Summers Joy, Mother and Daughter statue
Prairie Garden Plant List
Molinia caerulea variegata
Panicum virg. Dallas Blues
Achillea Red Velvet
Crocosmia Coleton Fishacre
Hemerocallis Edge Ahead
Lythrum saliciaria Firecandle
Monarda Pink Lace
Verbena bonariensis set each other off to great effect
The Alpine Bank
Our alpine bank resulted from the levelling of the ground when we built the Plant Canopy – our buildings stretch 60 metres across the site and have to absorb a 2 metre change of level east to west. The bank faces due south, has 10 tons of large sandstone rocks in it and had tons of sharp sand worked into our heavy clay soil to satisfy the demands of the alpine and rockery plants we wanted to grow here.
Constructing and Planting your rockery
Always make sure that your ‘soil’ is very free draining with the addition of lots of grit and coarse sand. Adding fibrous material is helpful but don’t overdo it as mountain soils tend to have low levels of fibre in them.
Pick up our leaflet from the garden centre 'Alpine and Rockery Plants' which includes a list of our favourite 50 alpines, plants for tufa and walls.
These little plants come from alpine area so they are very hardy although they are used to being covered by a protective layer of snow in the winter. They demand a sunny position with very good drainage.
By choosing from our collection you can spread the interest all year round. Adding some truly dwarf conifers ensures an evergreen display in the winter. Follow the planting principles in our 'Creating Better Borders' leaflet to arrange the biggest upright plants first, surround them with bushy ones and surround these with carpeting/trailing plants.
Alpines without a rock garden
Alpines are easily grown in almost any container so long as the drainage is good – both a drainage hole out of the container and also using a free draining compost like John Innes No1 compost with some extra added sharp grit.
In the spring we tidy up the bank, removing any undesirable seedlings and top dress any exposed soil with alpine grit. For the rest of the year we and our visitors just enjoy it, there is always something to see.
The Woodland Garden
The woodland lies on the east side of the Gardens beyond The Bird House and our stoneware sales area.
The trees are mainly deciduous Oak, Ash and Lime so in the spring before the leaves come on the trees, the growing conditions are great for spring flowering bulbs like cyclamen, snowdrops, winter aconites, daffodils and bluebells.
She is so incensed to be seen by a man that she turns him into a stag and he is chased and killed by his own hounds!
There are some large shrubs giving structure to the woodland floor beneath the tall forest tree. Here you’ll see Amelanchier in flower in the spring, at other times of the year you can enjoy Magnolis, Hamamellis, Cotoneasters, Cornus kousa, Eucryphia, Parrotia, Mahonia. Aucuba, Viburnum, Cornus alba varieties, Pinus mugo Mughus, Eleagnus, Pinus sylvestris.
Towards the edges of the woodland where you come into an area for Acid Loving/Lime Hating plants and the shade becomes partial shade (the plants can see the sky but are often shaded from direct sunlight by the building or the forest trees) you can enjoy Hyadrangeas, Shrub Roses and other summer performing plants.
In the denser shade you can find a tapestry of plants on the woodland floor. Some of these perform early in the spring like Pulmonarias and Hellebores alongside the flowering bulbs, others make a show in the summer, although we really value them for their foliage which delivers great displays in the summer shade like the golden leaved Fuchsia
We made use of some of the fallen trees from the gales at the beginning of 2012 by building a log arch. Hopefully this will provide some sheltered places for hibernating friendly wildlife as well as making an attractive feature for us to enjoy. You’ll find several statues placed in the woodland as well as the large reclining figure of our Woodland Muse and a Living Willow Arch leading to a bridge crossing the dry stream.
Perhaps some of our planting, the features and the meandering paths made out of bark and woodchips will give you some ideas for any dry shady areas you have in your garden. We have a Designer Collection plant list for Shady & Dry conditions which you can pick up from the garden centre.
The Potager Garden
Our potager garden is right at the heart of the Garden Centre and it needs to look good all year round because it's in full view. Lesley maintains that a potager full of edible crops is ‘pretty and productive’ and deserves to be in full view.
If your garden isn't big enough for you to be able to hide the veg patch then maybe a potager is for you.
We have given ours some permanent structure with bay trees, an arch, some obelisks and dwarf box, lavender and chive edged compartments. We have pots of herbs and salad crops and in January the rhubarb forcer sits prettily over the rhubarb.
A raised wooden veg bed is a comfortable height to work at, perfect for all sorts of edible crops and looks attractive. It’s a great companion to the potager itself.
Even if you aren’t ready to create a full potager yet and can’t fit a vegetable onto your patio you can grow lots of things prettily and productively in pots, especially herbs and salad crops.
What will you grow in your potager? Pick up our free leaflets at the garden centre for lots of ideas. 'Potager to Plate' no.1 and no.2 cover all year and for each month we suggest crops that you could grow, whether from seed or young plants. Each month tells you our favourite crop if you only want to try one and also for each month we give you some recipes for the crops that might be ready to harvest that month.
We’ve had lots of fun creating recipes from our garden produce to share with you. Dinner can be a bit chaotic when we have to stop to take photographs in case we need the recipe before we can try eating it!
We have a third Potager leaflet ‘Tuscan Potager to Plate’ which encourages you to grow and cook your own food in a Tartan Tuscan style! Instead of the monthly calendar layout of the other two leaflets its crops and recipes are arranged around the vegetable families: Pea & bean, Cabbage, Potato and Root Crop families as well as sections on Salad crops and Protected greenhouse crops – after all tomatoes and peppers are such key ingredients in Italian cooking.
Come and see how our attractive and productive potage compares to yours. Above all remember to plant ‘little and often’ in a pretty style…
(We are in the process of updating this page, expanding the information and adding new images)
The Sensuous Retreat
A garden to stimulate all five senses – sight – smell – taste – touch – sound. As well as demonstrating a private sheltered retreat you could recreate yourself using the same landscape materials we have used. (Designer Collection – Fragrant garden)
The Shady and Dry Border
How to treat, and what plants to choose for that difficult corner that you find in every garden right next to where you can buy these plants. (Designer Collection – Shady and Dry)
The Scottish Garden
A celebration of the history and styles of gardening in Scotland. Our Scottish Collection of garden plants embraces, Rhododendrons, Heathers, Conifers, Peat Loving Plants, Hardy Perennials. (Leaflet – The Scottish Garden)
The Oriental Garden
Experience the eastern calm and a place to escape the hurly-burly of modern life – even the maintenance requirements are minimal so you can really relax in this garden and just enjoy watching and contemplating life. (Designer Collection – Oriental Collection)
A long border which has something of interest throughout the year and all the plants are of benefit to wildlife visitors to the garden. It shows you what we could all do for the environment in our own patch, while treating ourselves to a lovely garden at the same time! (Designer Collection – Plants for Wildlife and Gardeners)
Creating Better Borders
A small border illustrating our leaflet of the same name which explains how you can go about choosing and arranging new garden plants – to enjoy success first time and every time, as well as creating a display that looks good all year round.
The Buddleja Bank
A dryish bank in full sun along from the Alpine Bank showing the type of plants that thrive in these conditions. (Designer Collection – Sunny and Dry Border)
The Sunny and Damp Pool
Sit under our living willow arbour with a view north across the Forth to Fife and enjoy the lush planting around the pool (Designer Collection – Sunny and Damp Border)
The Shady and Damp View
Look down onto the pond from the wooden viewing platform and be inspired by the plants that revel in these conditions (Designer Collection – Shady and Damp Border)
Hedging Knot Garden
Walk through this simple modern knot garden to see how different plants can be used for hedging (Designer Collection – Hedges)
The New Hopetoun Mood Gardens
Our two mood gardens, calm and exciting, were first created at Gardening Scotland 2002 and then rebuilt here in June 2002. We are delighted with them and hope you will be too. (Designer Collections – Calm Relaxed Border & Exciting Vibrant Border)
The Flower Arranger’s Steps
Either side of these steps down from the Tearoom Terrace we have planted plants to provide picking material for the house all year round (Designer Collection – Flower Arranger’s Garden)
A corner of the garden with acidic soil which is perfect for these plants that hate lime. There is a sunny bed and a shady bed, and we are always delighted with the way these peat loving plants all look good together and really set each other off to great effect