How important is historical accuracy in a garden?

HW polled delegates at last month's National Trust for Scotland masterclass in Edinburgh.

"You can't take the garden in isolation. Blair Adam in Kinross-shire was the home of the Adam architectural dynasty - the estate is mentioned in Walter Scott's novel The Antiquary - but it also contained a brickworks and a colliery.

"Those are interesting aspects, especially for local people, that could generate their own stories.

"It's not just a question for historic gardens. At Ian Hamilton Finlay's Little Sparta, the fabric of the garden has been decaying. Should we be replacing the fixtures? What is it we are trying to preserve?"

CHRISTOPHER DINGWALL, landscape historian

"You have to be practical. We still have the traditional Scottish herbaceous borders at Floors - the season is short so the aim is to give you a blast of colour in high summer.

"We could use heritage varieties but you wouldn't get the wow factor.

"At its peak in the 18th century the garden must have been amazing - they grew everything, even pineapples.

"The star plantation has been restored with the old rides put back in after it was badly damaged in a storm 15 years ago. It's quite lowmaintenance though."

ANDREW SIMMONDS, head gardener, Floors Castle

"I've just taken the job, so I'll first have to see what's there then consider how to add to it.

"So far I've only had a sneak peak. I'm here to find out about the historical research side. There is documentation at the estate and that's being put together as we speak. The garden was put together in the 1830s but records from that time may be limited.

"Crarae Gardens is close by - I would like to take some material from there, but that's up to the Duke (of Argyll, the owner). I'd also like to see the woodland developed with walks and sculptures."

JAMIE McCARTHY, head gardener, Inveraray Castle

"Gardens have to move with the times. Reconstructing something like a Victorian garden can have educational value.

"But you can be too purist, even about a designed landscape.

"I am the convenor of a shared Victorian garden in the west of Glasgow, and to be honest, we stuff in anything that's interesting and will grow.

"Several trees have been removed from the garden, which has let light in, and there's much less pollution than in Victorian times, so there's a lot more that we can grow now."

LISELLA HUTTON, Kirklee Landscape Architects, Glasgow.


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