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The significant garden planting dates from the mid-20th century when the house was owned by the famous plant hunter, Major George Sheriff, who created a Himalayan garden at Ascreavie with noted collections of primulas and rhododendrons. Since the late-20th century many of the rarer plants have been donated to botanic gardens.

Ascreavie is in private ownership and is now not affiliated with Historic Environment Scotland. The gardens at Ascreavie were removed from the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in 2017.

The following is the original entry from the Historic Environment Scotland Gardens and Designed Landscapes Inventory.

Type of Site

A mid-19-century designed landscape of parkland, woodland clumps, specimen trees and shelter planting with, near the house, alpine gardens and woodland gardens, redolent of mid-20th-century plant hunting and collecting, hosting a fine collection of Rhododendron and Primula.

Location and Setting

Ascreavie is situated on the southern edge of the lower foothills of the Grampian Mountains between the 689' (210m) and 919' (280m) contours, overlooking the Vale of Strathmore. The gardens lie about 1 mile (1.5km) north of Kirkton of Kingoldrum off the B951, and some 4 miles (6km) north of Kirriemuir. The soil is peaty and the altitude provides good climatic conditions for growing rhododendrons. There are long views to the south and south-west across the valley. There are no significant views into the gardens.

Ascreavie House is set to the east of the designed landscape and is surrounded on the west and north by a shelterbelt. There is little documentary evidence apart from the 1st & 2nd edition OS plans, which show the layout of the first 19th century garden on the site. There are 49 acres (20ha) of the designed landscape today.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Ascreavie House was designed by William Scott of Dundee, a pupil of the Edinburgh architect, George Angus, in the mid-1850s. There are several garden Ornaments and Stone Urns, one of which is dated 1717. They were probably brought to Ascreavie by the Sherriffs. The old Kennels and other buildings are all used for storing garden materials. A Cottage is built on to the kitchen garden walls.Parkland

The small area of parkland to the south and east of the house is planted out with several clumps of broadleaved trees including oak, beech and a good copper beech dating from c.1850. Recent planting has been confined to the field to the south of the house where several unusual trees were planted by the Sherriffs. The field is now let for grazing.


There are extensive tracks of woodland between the Ascreavie policies and the moorland to the north. They have been replanted with conifers within the last 50 years. The small shelterbelt to the north and west of the house, protecting the garden, is planted mainly with conifers: Lawson cypress, Douglas fir and larch, some dating back to the mid-19th century. Broadleaved trees, especially oak, were planted in the glades by the Sherriffs. Between the drive and the kitchen garden they also planted another new shelterbelt, mainly of beech. Along the drive they also planted several exotic trees, in particular, species of Acer and Sorbus, including a Sorbus aria variegata.Woodland Garden

A small woodland garden was created in the shelterbelt half-way along the drive. The small burn was dammed to make small waterfalls, and many of the exotic trees and shrubs were planted by the Sherriffs. The garden is now overgrown.

The Gardens

The Sherriffs planted the garden around the house. Many of the smaller Rhododendrons and herbaceous plants were planted out on the formal terraces to the south of the house. All over the garden small troughs, sinks and other containers were filled with alpine plants, many of which have since gone.

The shelterbelt was carefully thinned to provide very attractive glades where Rhododendrons could flourish under the protection of the tree canopy. Narrow walks meandered through the glades, which were planted out with many interesting and unique species Rhododendrons, particularly those with attractive leaves. Other acid- loving small trees and shrubs were also selected for their unusual qualities and planted to show off their form. The garden gradually expanded northwards up the slope as the collection grew. Further small terraces were planted up and more winding walks showed off the plants. The Primulas were mainly grown in a special garden near the house. An unusual beech and Lawson cypress hedge marked the end of the garden. To the east, another glade of the large leaved Rhododendrons led towards the kitchen garden.

The conditions for each plant were carefully chosen or contrived, and it must have been a delightful and very special 'connoisseurs' garden. There were too many noteworthy plants to identify here but the following illustrate the range: Tropaeolum speciosum, a large Daphniphyllum macropodum, Daphne 'Rosetti', Rhododendron tsariense, R. longistyllum, a good specimen of R. campylocarpum, R. lapponicum triflorum, a magnificent plant of R. orbiculare, two large Eucryphia glutinosa and a fine Himalayan birch (Betula jacquemontii).

Walled Garden

The kitchen garden appears on the 1st edition OS map as a kitchen/flower garden and it is still partly used today. Walls protect it on three sides and a low holly hedge runs along the south section. In the centre, a circular yew hedge leads to a pair of red cherry hedges (Prunus pissardii 'Atropurpurea') divided by a hedge of Rosa spinosissima dating from the Sherriffs' time. There is still a glasshouse and some fruit trees along the walls. Recently most of the garden has been allowed to run down.

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts

The following is from the Historic Environment Scotland Gardens and Designed Landscapes Inventory. For the most up-to-date Inventory entry, please visit the Historic Environment Scotland website:

Reason for Inclusion

A mid-19th century designed landscape most notable for its 20th century garden additions by the famous plant hunter George Sheriff.

Main Phases of Landscape Development

Mid-19th century and 1950-1978.

Site History

Much of the structure planting was undertaken during the mid-19th century but the significant gardening around the house took place between 1950-1978.

The Ascreavie policies were owned by the Ogilvy family of Ascreavie during the 18th and early 19th centuries. By 1867 the property was owned by the Youngs of Ascreavie and the new house was commissioned in c.1860. The house and grounds were sold in the 1940s to the Bertram Mills family (of circus fame) and they sold it in 1949, along with 260 acres, to Major and Mrs George Sherriff. Major Sherriff had undertaken several plant collecting expeditions to the Himalayas before World War II, and began gardening at Ascreavie using many of the plants which he had gathered during his expeditions, especially rhododendrons and Primulas. Details of the journeys have been well described in the book 'A Quest of Flowers - The Plant Explorations of Frank Ludlow and George Sherriff' by Harold R. Fletcher. Major Sherriff died in 1967 and Mrs Sherriff died in 1978, after which the property was sold to the Hon N.H.E. Hopkinson. In 1983 the Hopkinsons sold the house, garden and 30 acres to Mr & Mrs Lauder who have generously donated many of the rare rhododendrons collected by Major Sherriff, to the Dundee Botanic Gardens.


Victorian (1837-1901)

Associated People
Features & Designations


  • Historic Environment Scotland An Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland


  • Shelter Belt
  • Specimen Tree
  • Planting
  • Description: Alpine gardens
  • Planting
  • Description: Woodland gardens
Key Information





Principal Building

Domestic / Residential


Victorian (1837-1901)








  • Historic Scotland