Bolfracks 467

Aberfeldy, Scotland

Brief Description

The organic garden at Bolfracks incorporates the 18th-century Menzies-family burial ground and occupies a walled garden dating from the same period, but was essentially recreated from 1975. It is a plantsman's garden with richly planted borders. There are also good collections of herbaceous perennials and ornamental trees and shrubs. The early-20th-century stream garden was restored and replanted from 1983.

History

Bolfracks was built as a farmhouse for the Menzies family in the early-18th century. By the late-18th century there was an enclosed garden and burial ground. In the late-18th century Bolfracks was sold but the Menzies family still own the burial ground. In 1922 the grandparents of the present owners bought the property. A stream garden was created in 1922 and later replanted. Mr J Douglas Hutchinson redesigned and replanted the gardens from 1975.

Visitor Facilities

The gardens are open from the 1st April to the 31st October under Scotland's Garden Scheme.

Detailed Description

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:

http://portal.historic-scotland.gov.uk/hes/web/f?p=PORTAL:DESIGNATIONS:0

Type of Site

A five acre garden, influenced in part by the approach of writer and plantsman Christopher Lloyd, on remnants of a former mid-18th century garden and a stream garden created in 1928, with exotic trees and shrubs, a peat garden and perennials growing in mixed borders with the emphasis on seasonal colour, all set within a scenic frame of parkland and woodland.

Location and Setting

Bolfracks is situated on the south bank of the River Tay overlooking the Appin of Dull. To the south and behind the house the ground rises steeply to Bolfracks Hill and up to the moorland surrounding Craig Hill, 1,844' (562m). Aberfeldy is about 2 miles (3km) to the east and the A827 runs through the northern part of the park. The soil is a slightly acid loam above granite bedrock. The Tay valley is farmed, mainly grazed, whilst most of the steeper hillsides between Bolfracks and Taymouth Castle are covered with woods, up to the moorland of the hilltops. As Bolfracks lies on rising ground there are magnificent views westward to Ben Lawers and across the Tay to Weem Hill and Meall Tairneachan, 2,559' (780m). The parkland and the avenue of trees bordering the main road contribute to the scenery.

A plan of 1769 shows a simple formal layout with an avenue defining the entrance running northwards to the River Tay. At that time the town was situated near to the house. Another plan, surveyed in 1823 by James Jardine shows the drive and hamlet around the house, as well as the garden to the south (RHP 963/2). However, by the 1st edition OS plan of c.1860, the drive had been altered and the village removed. The designed landscape today extends over some 52 acres (21ha.). The policies are bordered to the north by the River Tay and to the south by Bolfracks Wood. The west boundary is formed by Bolfracks Burn and the east by Bolfracks Cottages.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Bolfracks House, listed B, is a two/three-storey castellated mansion incorporating an earlier farmhouse. The Gothic front was added c.1838 and has been attributed to James Gillespie Graham who was then working at Taymouth Castle. Bolfracks Burial Ground is enclosed by a high stone wall dated 1708 on the gateway. It still belongs to the Menzies family who built the mausoleum in c.1870. Other buildings include the Stables and Cottage and the Lodge.

Parkland

The parkland is divided into four sections around the house by lines of shelterbelts, of mainly lime, and the fields are grazed by sheep and cattle. A small area to the north has been taken into the garden.

Woodland

Lime trees were planted along the drive before World War II and the small plantation of conifers just to the south of the drive has been planted by the present owner. Bolfracks Wood which encloses the park to the south has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest as a rare example of slope alder wood with native birch stands containing an interesting lichen flora. There are some remnants of hardwoods containing ash, oak and some beech, however, most of the older plantations were cut down during World War II and have been replanted with conifers.

The Gardens

The garden extends for five acres around three sides of the house on the north- facing slope. The enclosed kitchen garden, of about one acre, has been planted up as part of the ornamental garden with exotic trees, shrubs and flower borders. It has been a garden since at least the mid-18th century when it was shown on the 1769 plan and until recently was used to grow fruit and vegetables. Today the walled garden is divided into two sections: the upper part is a small vegetable garden growing unusual varieties, and the lower part is filled with small trees (including Acer, Malus and Sorbus) and shrubs and perennials which grow in three attractive borders, two of which are double, and each over 80m long. The planting in these mixed borders was influenced by Christopher Lloyd. Behind the lower hedge is a small greenhouse used to propagate and grow on many of the smaller plants. There is such a range of plants that they cannot all be mentioned, but those of particular interest include Clethra alnifolia, Sambucus canadensis 'Maxima', Podophyllum emodi and a bright coloured Berberis.

Just above the house, winding gravel paths weave around walls of peat where many varieties of gentians and tall Primulas grow in profusion enjoying the acid soil. Daphne spp., alpine Rhododendrons, Gaultheria procumbens, Michelia doltsopa and other acid-loving shrubs, mainly ericaeous, protect the more delicate creepers, including carpets of Arctostaphylos tomentosa, from the prevailing south-westerly winds. In the spring all kinds of bulbs bloom, including the very small to the large varieties of daffodils. It is a delightful garden and full of surprises. Roses and Clematis smother the south side of the house which overlooks the gently rising lawn.

More Sorbus spp., many varieties of Acer and some of the more resilient shrubs line the western edge of the garden which is enclosed by a beech hedge. The stream garden was designed and constructed by Ian Laurie of Dundee in 1928 along the course of the Bolfracks Burn. In the last two years it has been cleared, restored and replanted. The stone bridge, Japanese in style, crosses the upper part of the garden close to the 1930s' Wendy House built for Mr Hutchison's sisters. Some climbers have been planted along the Burial Garden Wall.

Features
  • Planting
  • Description: The stream garden, which was restored in the 1980s.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
Mausoleum, Herbaceous Border
Access & Directions

Access Contact Details

The gardens are open from the 1st April to the 31st October under Scotland's Garden Scheme.

Directions

Bolfracks is 2 miles west of Aberfeldy on the A827.
History

Detailed History

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:

http://portal.historic-scotland.gov.uk/hes/web/f?p=PORTAL:DESIGNATIONS:0

Reason for Inclusion

Sited on a slope overlooking the River Tay, this relatively small designed landscape contains a fine garden of outstanding horticultural and artistic merit. Bolfracks Wood is a rare example of sloping alder wood and has an important lichen population.

Main Phases of Landscape Development

Mid-18th-century formal landscape superseded by early 19th century informalisation, the garden redeveloped and maintained from 1975 to present.

Site History

Bolfracks was built as a farmhouse in the early 18th century for the Menzies family. Mr Menzies of Bolfracks had a beautiful plan drawn by David Hagarty in 1769 showing the formal landscape, the enclosed garden, the Menzies Burial Ground and the site of 'Balfracks Town' which was later removed. Towards the end of the 18th century the property was sold to the Earl of Breadalbane except for the small walled square of the Menzies family burial ground which still belongs to the Menzies family.

During the 19th century the house was occupied by the factor for the Breadalbane estate and a Gothic front was added at this time. From c.1890-1914 the house was let by the estate as a shooting lodge. In 1922, the Breadalbane estate was sold up and the Hutchison family bought Bolfracks. They added the stream garden and other features, but during World War II the garden and grounds were neglected when the house was used as a nurses' home for the hospital at Taymouth Castle. Some old photograph albums show the gardens before World War II. It was not until the present owner retired in 1975 that the garden was redeveloped. Mr Hutchison has designed and planted the garden since then, influenced by Christopher Lloyd.

Associated People

People associated to Bolfracks

Contact
References

References

Contributors

  • Historic Scotland