Places to Visit in Scotland
- Kailzie Gardens, Peebles
The estate at Kailzie was originally known as West Kellock and the first historical mention of the place was in 1296 William of Hop Kallow signed the infamous Ragman Rolls swearing allegiance to King Edward I of England.
A garden was established at Kailzie as far back as 1812, but in 1962 an old Georgian House was demolished and the owner - Angela Lady Buchan-Hepburn (who still owns the property) began to develop the then wild garden into the cultivated gardens we see today. Despite the garden being 700 feet above sea level and facing north and east and being subjected to frequent frosts, even in the summer, the work has been extremely successful.
Understandably, visitors to Kailzie often go straight to the walled gardens where there are usually displays of border plants and bulbs as well as a Victorian green-house with more tender plants. One great advantage of the design of the walled garden at Kailzie is that it is divided up into different areas by hedging. That no doubt helps to protect the plants but it can also have the benefit of making you feel that you are on your own in the garden, even if there are other people around. There is also a greater feeling of surprise as you go from one area to another. On the other hand, you have to remember which gates you came through, otherwise you can get a bit lost!
The semi-formal walled garden has shrubs and herbaceous borders, a good sized rose garden and, depending on the season, a collection of bulbs such as daffodils and tulips as well as bright blue mecanopsis (the Himalayan poppy - seen on the right) and Euphorbia (pictured on the left). Fuchias and geraniums are also a specialty at Kailzie and the walled garden has a number of more unusual shrubs as well as the more common potentilla bushes (including an archway of these) and laburnum trees.
The Rest of the Estate
There are 15 acres of less formal gardens to wander through, with a duck pond and great views of the rolling hills of the Southern Uplands. There are also woodland walks beside a burn amongst spring bulbs, rhododendrons and azaleas. This part of the garden has many fine old trees including an old larch planted in 1725, gifted by a friend of the then Laird of Kailzie. It is the oldest specimen of larch in Scotland.
In addition, there is a stocked trout pond, an 18 hole putting green, children's play area and gift shop. Plants are on sale (geraniums and fuchsias are particularly popular).
In May 2010, Kailzie has also introduced a "chicken village" at the top of the walled garden which includes rare poultry breeds such as Brahamis from India, Salmon Faverolles from France and Black Cochins from China. Near the main car park, there is an osprey watch with live C.C.T.V. cameras set up overlooking a nest high in the forest canopy without the birds being disturbed. It was set up in 2003 and allows visitors to observe an osprey nest in the nearby Cardrona Forest from Easter until the end of August (when the birds fly off to their winter quarters in West Africa.
After all that walking around in the fresh air, you are likely to need some food and drink and there is a licensed restaurant in a converted Coach House which still has its original panelling. The original stalls and loose boxes form an extension to this area. The restaurant seats up to 72 people, serving traditional home cooking and light snacks till 5.00pm every day. Traditional afternoon tea is also served featuring home-baked scones and there is dinner with main courses ranging from chicken to sea bass on Friday & Saturday evenings from 6.00pm.
See also Kailzie Gardens Web Site for more details.
How to Get There
The Scottish Borders are within easy driving distance of Edinburgh and Kailzie is near Peebles, one of the first Border towns coming from the capital. Driving from Glasgow is more tortuous and (as I have often discovered) it's quite easy to get lost! I sometimes drive from Glasgow along the M8 towards the outskirts of Edinburgh and its ring road before heading south to the Scottish Border areas - that can be longer in miles but shorter in time on the faster roads.
Once you get to Peebles, cross over the river Tweed and drive east along the B7062 a few miles to reach the sign post marking the entrance to the gardens.
See also the Location Map (you can enlarge the scale of this map, if required).
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