We sallied forth on Wednesday, the 18th to see Wormistoune Garden and Kellie Castle; two gardens that have much in common: both built around historic and noble edifices, both with traditional elements, surprises and peaceful neuks.
Wormistoune was a delightful surprise. The property is in private ownership, owned by James and Gemma McCallum, and lovingly restored. The garden also is very obviously a labour of love. Katherine Taylor, the head gardener exuded the joy she and her two assistants share in caring for this imaginatively and in places boldly, restored garden and estate.
On entering the walled garden, actual gasps could be heard from our members on seeing the height and depth of colour of the magnificent delphiniums, underplanted so densely that that supports were not visible. Soon we split into the several other paths and sections of the garden, all filled to the brim with triumphant plants and the drowsy hum of contented bees. All around could be found delightful artistic touches, from the imaginatively curved and deceptively sturdy metal details, (gates, lights, plant supports) to the wonderfully varied and playful use of materials in the paths and terraces; stones, gravel and even pantiles were used amongst stone slabs in patterns and pictures to create a constant source of interest beneath our feet. An arched entrance to the garden has been cleverly converted to a moongate, with a stunning view of Fife Ness, and leading visitors to the further areas of the garden, including a ‘lochan’ re –landscaped recently (by Splash Gordon, we’re told!) and already happily occupied by a family of ducks and many plants. This area proved extremely popular for a ‘wee rest’, with several people commenting on the wonderful sense of peace to be found there.
It was impossible to do this lovely garden justice in the time we had – I haven’t even mentioned the nuttery, the ‘fairy garden’, potager or griselina shade garden. Needless to say they were all lovely. One leaves Wormistoune with a sense of the sheer joy of creating and nurturing a garden with attention to detail, respect for history, and love of the plants. I for one would love to return and see how it was getting on. On to Kellie Castle Gardens for a rather good lunch and another garden to enjoy.
Kellie Castle Garden is a pleasing mixture of potager and traditional gardens, with a couple of pleasant surprises of its own, such as a peachery tucked away in an easy to miss spot, kiwis fruiting triumphantly against an old, sun-warmed wall, and a splendid old medlar tree.
The extensive potager surrounds the lawns and gardens, and I for one was hugely impressed by the size and healthy appearance of their produce, which was pleasingly arranged and quite at home surrounding the flower garden. The cabbages alone were worth a visit! There was a nepeta-bordered walk down the centre of the garden, still looking stunning.
Lawns, traditional herbaceous borders and paths flank this walk, with some stunningly scented old roses dotted around, some growing up through trees. I noticed the bergamot and verbena in particular, though there was a good variety of traditional herbaceous flowers to be found, many of which obviously benefited from having the time and space to grow into their prime. In the corners, there were peaceful ‘rooms’, enclosed by yew with their own gates, which created a lovely sense of seclusion, though one was obviously between plantings when we visited.
Like Wormistoune, the gardens encircle the lovely old building, creating a pleasing backdrop, and also like Wormistoune, there are glorious coastal views to be glimpsed. Both gardens had much to offer, and, as has happened before, we leave Fife with rueful mutterings about soil and climate, and just a tiny wee bit of gardeners’ envy.