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Malleny (also known as Wester Lymphoy)


At Malleny an area of 19th-century woodland and a walled garden of over one hectare, with topiary dating from the 17th century, remain from a once much larger estate. The walled garden has a noted mid-20th-century collection of shrub roses planted with perennials.

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:

Location and Setting

Malleny House and Gardens lie to the south of the village of Balerno, some 6 miles (10km) south-west of Edinburgh. The garden lies at a height of 500' (152m) above sea level and suffers from locally severe frosts. The surrounding landscape is today suburban. The site is bounded to the west by the Bavelaw Burn which meanders northwards to join the Water of Leith. To the south and east, some agricultural land remains, and to the north the open space is now rugby pitches. The shelter planting in the agricultural areas is significant from the access road to the garden. However, from within the garden the surrounding landscape does not play a significant role in the design. The garden itself has little significance to the surrounding landscape.

Malleny was once part of a much larger estate owned by the Scotts and the Roseberys. In 1882 it comprised some 3,000 acres (1,215ha). Today, the policies extend to 2 acres of garden and woodland garden in an almost triangular form, bounded to the north by the access road, to the south by a footpath at the edge of the woodland garden, and to the west by the Bavelaw Burn. The Scott Vault and surrounding woodland lie in the field to the north of the site and have been retained by their previous owner. The original western entrance has now been closed although the drive and gate remains and a new entrance has been made to the south, as a result of the new bypass round the centre of Balerno. The designed landscape today includes some 18 acres (7 ha).

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Malleny House, a two-storey and dormered attic house, listed A, was built c.1630 to replace a previous house and incorporated part of it, including the chimney which has a date stone of 1589. It is a traditional building with a circular turnpike stair tower. Single-storey additions were made in c.1810 for General Thomas Scott; until recently it was ivy-covered, but it has been cleaned and harled. The 18th century Doocot, double pitched with crow-stepped gables and listed B, stands opposite the main entrance of the house. It contained 915 nesting boxes and its entrance is unusual in facing north. The Wind Vane on its roof was added in the 1960s. The stables lie to the east of the house and are linked to the cottages. The stables were altered between 1910 - 1939. The Scott Burial Vault, listed C(S), is thought to be 17th century; it was closed in 1884.

There are some examples of wrought-iron work designed by Sir Thomas Gibson- Carmichael during his tenancy. On his appointment as Governor of Victoria in 1910, he removed many of the pieces to his home at Skirling where they remain today; of those which were left by him some gates still remain. The new entrance gate installed in 1972 in the east wall of the garden was designed by Schomberg Scott for the NTS. A sundial, dated 1700, stands in the walled garden. A pond and fountain stands on the lawn opposite the house. Various stone urns have been situated throughout the garden by the NTS.


Mixed deciduous woodland was established between the walled garden and the Scott burial vault c.130 years ago. Until recently, a grass path lined with rhododendrons was kept mown through the wood but this practice has now ceased and the wood has been left to naturally regenerate. Mixed deciduous trees, of similar age to those in the wood, line the drive-way.

Woodland Garden

The woodland garden lies to the south of the main drive. It is now mainly mixed deciduous woodland with many mature yew trees at the western end. Reference to the 1st & 2nd edition OS maps shows that the western area has been woodland at least since 1857, while the eastern end has been planted since 1910. The 'Dripping Well' or 'Wishing Well' forms a feature at this western end. The pond area was cleared some years ago and replanted with the help of an MSC scheme.

The Gardens

The walled garden stands to the north of the house. It is thought that an earlier house stood within the walls of the garden, possibly with a courtyard in front. The house and garden have changed hands many times and the garden has been recorded at various times during its chequered history. In 1846 Lord Cockburn mentioned Malleny as one of the five curious old style gardens remaining in Midlothian: 'sadly injured now and ... all of the same character: evergreen bushes, terraces and carved stones'. By 1882 the OS Gazetteer records Malleny as having Dutch Gardens and fine old yews and plane trees. Sir Herbert Maxwell referred in 1911 to the magnificent sycamores in the woods. Today, the garden is still divided into two compartments by a yew hedge which runs on an almost NE/SW axis. The eastern compartment is dominated by four clipped yew trees, said to have been planted with the hedge in the early 17th century. These four yews remain from the original twelve, known as 'the twelve apostles', which are reputed to have been planted to commemorate the Union between Scotland and England. They stood, unlike now, clothed to the base. The eight which were removed, surrounded the 1810 wing of the house; three in the heath bed, three near the bowling green and three in the azalea bed. They were cut down by the Gore-Browne Hendersons 'with great benefit to the house and its garden'. Rectangular rose beds now stand in the old bowling green. Access is by a new 'entrance' formed by the NTS on the east wall. A gravel footpath runs around the perimeter of the garden, separated from the walls and inner lawns by herbaceous and shrub borders. The paths were put in by Lady Geddes.

Lawns have replaced the tennis court and the orchard. The vegetable area in the north-east corner of the garden is much smaller today than in the past. In the time of Sir Thomas Carmichael, the garden was largely flowers. Since 1961, the garden has been almost completely replanted by the Gore-Browne Hendersons. A fine collection of shrub roses was amassed, due to their suitability to the site, many from the collection of Major Hog at Newliston House. Rhododendrons, Meconopsis, Primulas and bulbs were later additions. Two glasshouses stand in the south-east corner of the garden and are used for propagating and display.

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts


01483 211465

Access contact details

The garden is open daily all year from 10am until 5pm or dusk if earlier.


Malleny Garden is off the A70 to Lanark. It is 1 mile from National Cycle Route 75 and can be reached by bus from Edinburgh.


The National Trust for Scotland


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

The walled garden at Malleny contains an interesting old shrub rose collection planted in the 1960s. The woodland and gardens form an attractive setting for the category A listed house.

Site History

Earliest records of the site date from 1330 but the earliest known owners are the Knychtsoune family, from 1478. William, the 4th heir, developed the house and it is his initials WK and those of his wife, JL for Joneta Livingstone de Belstane, that adorn the date stone of 1589 remaining in the kitchen of the present house. In 1617 Alexander Livingstone, a relation, sold the estate and thereafter it changed hands several times. Among the owners were Sir James Murray of Kilbaberton, Master of the King's Works, who, it is thought, built the existing house. In 1647 the estate was acquired by William Scott, who became Lord Clerkington in 1649. In 1656 his son Sir John became the 1st Scott of Malleny. Early generations of the Scotts are thought to have planted the yew hedge and trees seen in the garden today and also built the Doocot.

Alterations were made to the house c.1810 by the 4th Laird, General Thomas Scott (1745-1842). In 1882, the 6th Laird, Major General Francis Cunningham Scott sold the estate to the 5th Earl of Rosebery. Thereafter, it was rented; firstly to Sir Thomas Gibson-Carmichael who developed the garden extensively, and then by Mr K.M. Gourlay between 1910-39 who was also a keen gardener and who specialised in bush roses. Mr R.J. Walker, Chairman of the Friends of Malleny, has a collection of photographs of the garden during Mr Gourlay's tenure. In 1955 it was purchased by Lord and Lady Geddes who carried out improvement work in the garden before it was sold again in 1960 to Commander and Mrs Gore-Browne Henderson. The house, gardens and two cottages were gifted to the National Trust for Scotland, together with an endowment in 1968. The house is at present leased by the NTS.

Features & Designations


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


  • Dovecote
  • Description: A dovecote with 914 nesting boxes.
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  • Topiary
  • Description: Yew hedges and four ancient yew trees in the walled garden.
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  • Sundial
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  • Greenhouse
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  • House (featured building)
  • Description: Malleny House, a two-storey and dormered attic house, listed A, was built c.1630 to replace a previous house and incorporated part of it, including the chimney which has a date stone of 1589. It is a traditional building with a circular turnpike stair tower.
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Key Information





Principal Building

Domestic / Residential





Open to the public





  • Historic Scotland