Branklyn 517

Perth, Scotland

Brief Description

The early-20th-century garden at Branklyn House developed into one of national significance because of its renowned plant collections, many of them built up from seed brought back from plant hunting expeditions. The garden is on a sloping site and consists of rock and scree gardens and shrubs beds, with a wealth of dwarf rhododendrons, alpines, herbaceous and peat-garden plants.

History

John and Dorothy Renton created the gardens between 1922 and 1966 on the site of an overgrown orchard.

Visitor Facilities

The gardens are open daily between April and October. More information

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

This small garden of unique quality, redolent of the 1920s gardening trends, hosts a diverse, rare and unusual tapestry of plant material housed within terraces, trough gardens, rock and scree gardens and includes a dwarf rhododendron collection based on the seeds of the Forrest, Rock, Kingdon-Ward, Ludlow & Sherriff expeditions of 1923- 24.

Location and Setting

Branklyn Garden is situated on the outskirts of Perth, some 1.25 miles (2.1km) from the city centre. The A85(T) to Dundee runs along the western boundary, parallel with the River Tay beyond. The site adjoins an area of 19th century villas beyond which, to the east, Kinnoull Hill rises to a height of 728' (222m).

The garden itself stands at a height of 200' (61m) on a west and south-west facing slope which originally afforded good views to the River Tay and Ochil Hills beyond. In the last 50 years, the urban development of the city of Perth has become more dominant within this view. An overgrown hedge along the western boundary served to screen off these industrial and residential developments, as well as the noise of the traffic; this has been cutback recently. Soil conditions within the garden are medium loam over rock; this, along with the sloping aspect of the site, causes the soil to dry out quickly. Annual rainfall averages 30" and the area is susceptible to late frosts. The garden blends in well with the surrounding area.

The garden was originally established on 0.5 acres (0.2ha) of ground in 1922. Within the following few years, it was extended to its present size of 1.7 acres (0.6ha).

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Branklyn House was built in 1922. It is a two-storey house with a terrace to the south which overlooks the garden. Several stone troughs stand on the terrace and ornamentation such as a sundial is incorporated within the design of the garden.

The Gardens

The garden was created in three stages following the construction of the house. Initially, a low wall and paved terrace was constructed around the house. Troughs on this terrace were planted with many interesting plants, most notably Cassiope wardii. The garden now hosts the National Collection of Cassiope for the National Council for the Conservation and Preservation of Plants and Gardens (N.C.C.P.G.). A rock garden was developed on the steepest slopes with running water incorporated to create a small stream with various pools. In this area were many specimens of Cupressus pisifera, C. leptoclada, and C. tetragona minima, as well as Abies balsamea var. 'Hudsonia', Picea excelsa pendula and many other dwarf varieties. Small deciduous shrubs were incorporated, including dwarf lilacs, Betula nana, Salix boydii and Daphne cinearum.

Screes of various types were also constructed, originally to the prescription of Reginald Farrer but experience later caused them to alter the make-up. Paraquilegia anemenoides was thought to be one of the best scree plants. Lewisias were well established and seeded themselves, thus creating many hybrids including L. Howellii, L. Finchii, L. cotyledon and L. columbiana.

In all, however, only around one quarter of the garden was given over to rock garden and scree, and the remainder was developed informally with grass paths meandering through the shrub beds. Peat blocks were built to edge borders and create walls.

The garden was once described as a 'tapestry' of plant material, each plant being interwoven to blend subtly into one another. Species incorporated were numerous; initially a framework of Pyrus, Prunus, Acer, Laburnum, Syringa and other shrubs was established. Thereafter, a collection of dwarf rhododendrons was begun, based on the seeds of the Forrest, Rock, Kingdon-Ward, Ludlow & Sherriff expeditions of 1923- 24. A detailed account of dwarf Rhododendrons at Branklyn was written by Dorothy Renton for the Rhododendron & Camellia Year Book in 1959.

Meconopsis was considered another outstanding genus at Branklyn. Numerous varieties were established, but of note is M. grandis var. Branklyn which was awarded a First Class Certificate in 1963 by the Royal Horticultural Society. Over 100 different Primulas were established, many of which were detailed in a paper to the National Primula & Auricula Society in 1980 by Head Gardener, Andrew Duncan.

All these plants were incorporated with the numerous other species since 1968, and the species range has further diversified. Trees of particular note in the garden were measured by Alan Mitchell in 1980 and 1983.

Features
  • House (featured building)
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
Access & Directions

Access Contact Details

The gardens are open daily between April and October.

Directions

Stagecoach buses stop 200 metres from the garden. For details see: http://www.nts.org.uk/Property/Branklyn-Garden/Getting-there/
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

A garden of national significance created in 1922 on the outskirts of Perth, covering only 0.6 hectares but containing a huge plant collection. Many new plants were introduced into cultivation from here, raised from seed brought back from the Scottish plant hunters.

Main Phases of Landscape Development

1922-66, 1968 acquired by the National Trust for Scotland, early 1980s to present enhanced and maintained.

Site History

Prior to 1922, the site was an old orchard belonging to the adjacent property. In that year, it was purchased, in an overgrown state, by John & Dorothy Renton who built the house which remains today. At that time they had little experience in garden- making but Mrs Renton had had a great interest in botany since childhood. They retained some of the large, well-shaped fruit trees in the orchard and spent considerable energy eradicating the well-established weeds including bishopweed, thistles and Convolvulus. The original 0.5 acres of land was extended south and, in the course of the next thirty years, Branklyn was developed into what was described by the Regius Keeper of the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh as 'the finest two acres of private garden in the country'. John Renton is considered to have been responsible for the original layout but it was Dorothy Renton who amassed the extensive range of plant material and arranged it into the form which gave Branklyn its unique quality. In 1954, she was awarded the Veitch Memorial Medal 'for her work in connection with the introduction and cultivation of new plants'.

Dorothy & John Renton died in the late 1960s. In 1968, their Trustees donated the garden with an endowment to the National Trust for Scotland. The Trust has tried to maintain the individual character of the garden using unusual and rare plants of a similar nature to the original concept.

Period

  • Early 20th Century
Associated People

Just one person associated to Branklyn

Contact
References

References

Contributors

  • Historic Scotland