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Scottish Gardens
Concerning Scottish Gardens In General

FTER the withdrawal of the Roman legions from Britain in the fifth century, to quote the graphic words of the late Dr. W. F. Skene, [Celtic Scotland] the British Isles seemed, as it were, to into the recesses of that western ocean they had emerged in the reign of the Emperor Claudius. In the following century, Procopius, writing from Constantinople a scanty description of the lost Roman provinces of Britain, said that he believed that part of the island nearest Gaul was still inhabited and fertile, but that it was divided from the rest of the island by a wall, beyond which was a region infested by wild beasts, with an atmosphere fatal to human life, wherefore it was tenanted only by the spirits of the departed. Now the wall referred to was probably that rampart erected by Lollius Urbicus for the Emperor Antoninus Pius about A.D. 140. It stretched between the Firths of Forth and Clyde, and connected the detached forts built by Julius Agricola seventy years before; but the reference may have been to the earlier wall, that great fortification drawn by the Emperor Hadrian from the Tyne to the Solway, roughly parallel with the line dividing England from Scotland at the present day.

Whichever barrier Procopius had in mind, whether it was the whole of modern Scotland, or only the Highlands, that he included in his un-complimentary estimate of the climate, the fifteen centuries which have run their course or nearly so, since he laid down his pen have not served wholly to efface the unfavourable estimate of Scottish seasons entertained by many travelled, and all untravelled, southerners. "As in the Northerne parts of England," wrote Fynes Moryson in the seventeenth century, "they have small pleasantnes, goodnesse, or abundance of Fruites and Flowers, so in Scotland they must have lease, or none at all."

It was Dr. Johnson, if I mistake not, and if not he, then some other equally veracious tourist, who declared that Scots farmers could only grow barley under glass; and really this assertion is not one whit further from the truth than many of the statements one may see gravely repeated in gardening journals. Advice is frequently based, even in high class works on horticulture, upon the assumption that, because Scotland lies a few hundred miles nearer the North Pole than do the Home Counties, it is useless to attempt to cultivate any except the hardiest shrubs and herbs beyond the Tweed. The reader receives the impression of a rigorous climate, with intensely cold winters and sunless summers ; and that impression, as regards summer, at least, is often confirmed to those who postpone their visit to Scotland till Parliament rises, perhaps late in August, after the Lammas floods have soaked the land and the evenings have turned damp and chill. But those who know the north country in June and July do not need to be warned against such an erroneous conception, or to be told that the Scottish soil and climate are quite as favourable to floral display as are those of any part of England.

Nevertheless, speaking broadly, the climates of the two realms are different in character, and it behoves the gardener to take this into account in furnishing his borders and shrubberies. It may help him to do so, if he has a general understanding of the mechanism of climate, so to speak. It certainly would have saved the present writer from many blunders had he been guided earlier by a better knowledge of the principles of meteorology, and from expense and disappointment incurred by attempting to cultivate unsuitable species of shrubs and herbs.

The first thing to lay to heart is that Great Britain is divided, climatically, not so much into north and south, as nearly all horticultural books describe it, as into east and west. Certain plants which perish from winter cold near London and in the Midlands, flourish luxuriantly on the western sections of the counties of Inverness and Ross. This is usually explained as the direct influence of the Gulf Stream upon the seaboard climate of the British Isles. Nobody wants to speak disrespectfully of the Gulf Stream ; but hydrographers have differed among themselves in estimating the extent of its effect upon the land temperature of Western Europe, and perhaps the popular tendency has been to exaggerate it. Issuing from the Gulf of Florida, with a surface temperature of 80° F., this great current of hot water flows eastward along the banks of Newfoundland, whence it is separated by the cold and southward flowing current of Labrador. At about 40° west longitude, a well-marked branch of the Gulf Stream turns north and north-westward upon the coast of Greenland and is lost in Baffin's Bay. The main current divides again at about 25° W., 47° N., the greater moiety bending southward to form the North African current, which laves the shores of Portugal and Morocco, finally turning west¬ward off Cape Verde and heading back to the Carribean Sea. What is left of the original stream holds a north-eastward course towards the western shores of Northern Europe, but it has parted with most of its superfluous heat ; and, east of 30° west longitude, ceases to be distinguishable from the general eastward drift of water promoted by the prevailing air current from W.S.W.. to E.N.E. Dr. James Cron has calculated that the Gulf Stream is responsible for one-fifth of the total heat of the North Atlantic, and that if the warm current were shut off or diverted, the surface temperature of that ocean would fall to an average of three degrees below zero F.—that, in short, it would become a frozen sea. Dr. Naughton, on the other hand, has given tables showing that, while the Gulf Stream certainly raises the temperature of our seas very considerably in winter, it actually lowers it in summer. Perhaps all that can be affirmed with certainty is that the Gulf Stream has a genial influence, not only upon the climate of the United Kingdom, but actually within the Arctic circle at Hammerfest.

Admitting gratefully as we may our indebtedness to this beneficent current, it is not easy to attribute to its sole agency the superior mildness of our western seaboard as compared with the inland and eastern districts. An explanation of that constant phenomenon must be sought not in the waters beneath the firmament, but in the firmament itself—in the general circulation of the atmosphere.

The air we breathe forms a fluid envelope over the entire globe, which, becoming intensely heated under the ecliptic, expands and rises in a huge dome or ridge corresponding with the apparent path of the sun round the earth. From the top of this ridge the heated air flows away towards the poles, descending to the earth's surface again at about 30° N. and S. latitude. The circumference of the earth at these latitudes being very much less than at the equator, the surface velocity in diurnal rotation is necessarily diminished in proportion. But the descending air current retains, not only much of the heat, but also much of the high eastward velocity imparted to it in equatorial regions, the result being a general movement of the atmosphere in the northern temperate zone from S.W. to N.E. Land areas, being far more extensive and numerous in the northern hemisphere than they are in the southern, interfere powerfully with this general drift of atmosphere by causing local differences of temperature; but it has a clear oceanic course of about 4000 miles in passing from the coast of Florida to the Land's End. By virtue of its heat, this warm air current is able to absorb the moisture which is con-tinually being given off by evaporation from the ocean surface, and to carry it eastward in the invisible form of vapour. But when the air current is chilled, whether in summer by meeting high land which lifts it to a colder stratum, or in winter by striking land which at that season is colder than the sea, it loses the power of carrying the vapour, which is suddenly condensed into the visible form of rain or snow, mist or fog. Such is the chief permanent cause of the greater rainfall on our western coasts, as compared with our eastern. Hence, also, their superior mildness in winter; for the latent heat, which was engaged in carrying vapour, is released as soon as that vapour is condensed and falls out of the air, being instantly felt in the form of warmth. The air current passing inland deprived of such moisture as it has lost by condensation, is deprived also of the heat which enabled it to bring that moisture to the coast; whence the far greater severity of winter at Leicester and Perth compared with western localities corresponding to these places in latitude, such as Limerick and Oban. Dr. Haughton has calculated that, on the west coast of Ireland as much heat is derived from rainfall as from the direct action of the sun.

In another important respect vegetation is affected and its character modified by the amount of vapour in the air. Moisture, in the invisible form of vapour, interferes almost as much with the passage of heat from the sun to the earth, and with the radiation of heat from the earth into space, as it does when partially condensed into the form of mist or cloud. In proportion, therefore, as the air current discharges itself of vapour by precipitation in passing over the high grounds of our western seaboard, is there less interference with the access of sunrays to the surface of midland and eastern districts. This secures for these districts brighter, hotter summers than in the west ; subject always to local conditions, such as exposure to cold eastern currents. But the diminution of air-borne vapour promotes radiation, causing the earth to part more quickly with its heat, and reducing the mean winter temperature of midland and eastern districts below that of western.

Such is, very broadly and briefly, the outline of the normal course of British meteorology, as explained by Haughton, Croll, Strachey, Scott and other observers. To the horticulturist it resolves itself into this, that the climate in the west is cooler in summer and warmer in winter than that of inland and eastern districts, and he must conform to these conditions in his choice of decorative material.

It is impossible to guess how much money and labour is wasted each year in attempting to grow in a humid climate and on a cool soil plants which delight in a roasting sun on a dry formation. On the other hand, what opportunities do we not see thrown away by neglecting the capabilities of soil and climate, thereby reducing gardens and pleasure grounds to a monotonous uniformity of furniture.

Take as an example, the Rhododendron family. The common R. ponticum grows anywhere except on chalk or limestone ; consequently it is grown every-where, choking our woodlands and smothering the beautiful native undergrowth, until the eye wearies of what is in truth a very handsome shrub. Even people who live on chalk and limestone, instead of taking advantage of their position to cultivate plants that revel in a cretaceous soil, are at infinite pains to prepare beds for rhododendrons, and so make their gardens as like those of other people as possible. And others, possessed of the cool soil and humid atmosphere in which rhododendrons rejoice seldom plant any but the common ponticum and its hybrids. All along the west coast, from the Land's End to Cape Wrath, a continual succession of bloom from midwinter to the very end of July can be secured by planting the exquisite Himalayan and Caucasian species, many of which it is vain to attempt to bring through the winter in the famous nurseries at Woking and Bagshot. Miss Wilson has caught some of these in flower in an Argyllshire garden (Stonefield, Plate TX.) and, lest the beautiful scene she has depicted should stimulate a desire in any of my west-coast readers to attempt similar effects, a list of the choicer species is given in Appendix A.

The two things requisite for success are sufficient drainage to prevent the soil getting waterlogged and shelter from violent winds, especially wind off the sea. Many species, such as R. arboreum, carnpanulatum, cinnamomeum and cinnabarinurn will live and flower even in a windy exposure, but their foliage gets seared and stunted, and the foliage of these choice .shrubs is as remarkable for beauty as their flowers.

There is a host of other exotics reputed tender in the neighbourhood of London and in the English midlands, which grow and flower luxuriantly in the Scottish westland. A list of these will be found in Appendix B. How greatly the interest and beauty of pleasure-grounds might be enhanced if a selection from these were substituted for the too frequent laurel (which is not a laurel, but a plum), the ubiquitous ponticurn rhododendron, the urban aucuba and the suburban mahonia ! One would think, after surveying the sameness which pervades so many shrubberies and flower-beds that there was a poverty of material to choose from, instead of the enormous variety, almost bewildering in extent, which the enterprise of nurserymen and the diligence of their collectors have put within easy reach of people of quite moderate means.

It must be admitted that there has been a marked improvement in this respect during the last quarter of a century. Many people devote them-selves nowadays to the cultivation of hardy shrubs and herbs with an enthusiasm and degree of knowledge seldom met with in early and mid-Victorian years. They have grown so keen as to fall, sometimes, into the opposite extreme, and to take more pains to rear plants with which it is difficult to succeed than they do with those best suited to their soil and climate.

I visited lately the famous garden of a friend in Sussex. I found him sitting under a tree, surrounded by borders the wealth and variety of which I was eager to explore. Before I could do so, he marched me off saying, "Come this way; I have something to show you." He led me to a north-west corner between two ivy-covered walls and displayed with much pride a few flowering sprays of Tropceolum speciosum—that lovely flame-flower, which, in the humid north, is a rampant, but ever- welcome weed. It certainly was a triumph of horticulture to succeed even moderately in one of the hottest counties in England with this plant which revels in the cool soil and moist atmosphere of the north ; but the merit of this garden lay not in such feats of coddling, but in the abundance and richness of sun-loving flowers.

Do not let it be imagined that I am superior to these little gardening foibles. J'ai passé par let, moi qui vows parle—nay, I am still treading the path of futile error. Neither age nor experience, nor both combined, can purge a fool of his folly ; and so it comes to pass that I cannot bring myself to root up two large specimens of Xanthoceras sorbifolia, a bush which in the southern counties loads itself in May with garlands of white flowers with a blotch of burgundy at the base of each petal. In Scotland I have never seen it produce more than a meagre sprinkling of half shrivelled blossoms. So with Hibiscus syriacus, that glory of English Augusts, and the bulbous Sternbergict, which stars with gold the vineyards of France, what time the cream-tinted oxen slowly draw the oozing grapes to the winepress. All of these, and many others which might

be named, live in Scotland, and make abundant promise in the way of foliage; but the promise is never, or hardly ever, fulfilled. Either the flowers lag too late for want of sun-forcing, which is the way with Hibiscus, or the plants are never ripened enough to form flower-buds at all, which is the matter with Sternbergia. On the other hand, there are many plants which relish the cool, moist north, and refuse to respond to the sun of southerly shires.

The vaporous western and northern atmosphere, acting in conjunction with a soil for the most part cool, has one effect upon plant growth note-worthy for Scottish gardeners, greatly modifying the cultural requirements of certain plants. General instructions contained in horticultural works and nursery catalogues are mostly calculated for the meridian of London, and directions for providing shade apply chiefly to the sunnier regions of our realm and hot soils. But a plant that appreciates a northern exposure or overhanging foliage in Sussex may require all the direct sunshine it can receive in Argyllshire or Perthshire to ripen its growth sufficiently for the supreme effort of flowering. For instance, when I first obtained the beautiful Chilian shrub then called Crinodendron Hookeri, but now known as Tricuspidaria lanceolata, I was advised by that veteran horticulturist, Canon Ellacombe, to give it a north exposure. Accordingly I planted one against a wall facing north-east, and it has grown at the rate of two feet a year—a picture of vigour—but with very sparse return in flowers. Another plant of the same species, set in an open border facing south-west, has not grown nearly so fast, but is of sturdier habit, and at the present moment (22nd August) is closely set with tiny flower-buds on long white peduncles, which will swell next April into the crimson globular bells which are the glory of this choice evergreen.' Canon Ellacombe's advice was perfectly sound and applicable to the neighbourhood of Bath, but had to be applied with a caveat in grey Galloway.

Again, Daphne Blaageana seeks all the shade it can get in its native haunts in south-eastern Europe, and may demand the same when grown on dry, chalky soils in southern England ; but I have never seen it so fine as under Mr. Moore's care in the Glasnevin. Botanic Gardens, where it covers a large round bed, in full sunshine, with its delectable ivory-white blossoms.

Similar examples might be multiplied; the lesson of them all being the same, namely, that the vaporous atmosphere of Scotland, especially in the west, tempers the sun-rays enough to enable most shade-loving plants not only to endure them, but to benefit by them.

A wise discrimination in deciding what to grow makes all the difference between struggling and co-operating with nature. For what, after all, 'This never came to pass. The destructive frost of Eastertide, 1908, destroyed the flower-buds of this and many another choice shrub does cultivation amount to? I speak not of the florist's craft, which takes a wild flower or shrub and, with infinite cunning, transforms it into some-thing different, so that a wild mother carnation could not recognise her own offspring in the monstrous Malmaison race (unless it were by scent, as a ewe does her lamb), nor the modest little wild heartsease, which covers with a blue mist the roofs of old log-houses in Norway, claim kinship with the show and fancy pansies which have developed such amazing colours and are judged, like poultry, by their points. For the gardener proper all this work is done by others; his function is to propagate and grow; his care is so to dispose plants that they shall be spared the intense struggle for life which every wild tree, shrub or herb has to undergo. It is surprising what fine qualities many of our British wild flowers develop under careful handling. We cause the ends of the earth to be ransacked for the furnishing of our borders, while all around us, in meadow and copse, on seacoast and moorland, by riverside and hedgerow, there is material which will respond to thoughtful treatment with a display rivalling that of costly exotics. Among the many excellent, but unfulfilled, intentions of a desultory life has been the purpose to create an all-British garden, wherein nothing should be planted but native vegetation. Any amateur who may feel disposed for the experiment will find some suggestion in Appendix C. Meanwhile, let me give a single illustration of possibilities. In the peat bogs of lowland Scotland, northern England and Ireland may be found a slender, little, heathlike plant, four or five inches high, sparsely clad with narrow, evergreen leaves, glaucous on the back, bearing in late summer a few pretty, pale pink, drooping flowers on the model of an arbutus or a bearberry. Strange to say, this plant is not found in the Highlands of Scotland, though it is abundant in Norway. It is the marsh andromeda (A. polifolia), according to modern classification the solitary species in the genus. It seems to prefer the sloppiest parts of the bog, where even heather declines to grow ; but in fact it grows there only because there is no room for it elsewhere. Its hardy constitution enables it to main¬tain a precarious existence in a soaked mixture of sour peat and sphagnum which would be the death of any other hardwooded plant. Nevertheless, it is as fond of good things as its neighbours. Remove some plants from their native slime (they are so feeble that it must be carefully done) and set them in a sunny border in a mixture of peat, sand and loam, keep them from being overshadowed by grosser plants, lay some stones on the surface round them to keep some moisture about their roots, and in a couple of years they will grow into sturdy little bushes, nearly a foot high, with abundant leafage and a fine display of flowers. You have aided them in the struggle for life, and they reward you by developing into plants of really extraordinary beauty.

In visiting Scottish gardens (and the same remark applies to English ones also) I have been struck by the almost universal mismanagement, sometimes the total neglect, of flowering shrubs. The majority of gardeners seem to act on the principle that these plants must take care of them-selves. A shrubbery is laid out, planted with a variety of species, and left severely alone. What is the consequence? The strong growers throttle the more slender ones, which either disappear, or lead a precarious existence, spindling away among their rampant neighbours with little opportunity of ripening wood to carry flowers.
Again, many of the rarer shrubs, especially rhododendrons, are grafted upon common vigorous stocks. Constant vigilance is required, but is very seldom bestowed, to prevent suckers springing from the stock and supplanting the more delicate scion. It is a treat to spend a morning in a shrubbery like that at Poltalloch, in Argyllshire, where the gardener, Mr. Melville, tends the shrubs as carefully as the ordinary man does his roses and fruit trees, giving each plant plenty of room to develop and securing that by judicious pruning and timely transplanting. The result is, to mention one species only, that he can show you bushes of the rare Eucryphia pinnatifolia twelve or fourteen feet high, covered with charming white blossoms on their entire height and circumference. Many people, no doubt, have planted Eucryphia, allowed it to disappear and concluded that it was unable to endure a northern climate ; but the fact is that, like so many other Chili= plants, both Eueryphia pinnatifolia and the rarer cordifolia take most kindly to cultivation in Scotland and Ireland, though they cannot be kept at Kew.

In another respect carelessness is even more apparent in the generality of shrubberies. Few gardeners seem to be aware that, in the cultivation of flowering shrubs, there is any need for the pruning knife or sleateur, except to keep a gangway on garden paths. But many flowering shrubs need pruning as regularly as roses if they are to do themselves justice. Especially is this the case with those that bloom on the season's growth. These should be carefully gone over immediately after they have flowered, cut back to an eye behind the old flowering shoots and relieved of weakly and crowded growths. Typical examples of shrubs requiring this treatment are Buddleia, Forsythia, the choicer kinds of Philadelphus, Escallomia phillipiana, the hybrid Deutzias, and all the Olearias. Shrubs which flower on two-year-old growth require all weakly or failing growth removed and vigorous growth pinched or shortened.

Of course there are many species of flowering trees and shrubs which, planted in quantity and growing to a large size, cannot be gone over regularly; but anything choice or rare will amply repay a little intelligent handling. The finer sorts of rhododendrons, especially, suffer frequently from being planted six feet or so apart when small and allowed to grow up in a jungle. This class of evergreen does not benefit by pruning, but none bears transplanting so well or so easily. As the foliage of many kinds of rhododendron is exceedingly beautiful, each plant should have ample room from first to last. Various kinds of lilies, most of which thrive best in soil full of living roots, may be employed to fill the spaces which it is desirable to keep between rhododendrons when planted in a bed.

In mild districts the hardy palm, Chaincerops excelsa, Cordyline, and the finer bamboos may be used with splendid effect. Tree ferns, also grow luxuriantly with side shelter from high winds and overhead shelter from frost. Both of these requisites are easily provided because these cryptogams thrive best in shade and therefore should be planted in a moist wood. Not many years ago, tree ferns were easily obtained in London sale-rooms ; but they are hard to come by now, in consequence of the wise action of the New Zealand government in prohibiting the exportation of Dicksonia. Nurserymen who have old plants ask a guinea a foot for them, but some tradesmen have seedlings to dispose of. These can be had at a reasonable rate ; should be grown forward in a cold frame or cool greenhouse, hardened off at a foot high, when they may be planted out in permanent positions.

As no flower garden depends only on flowers for its charm, so is it of the utmost moment that suitable kinds of trees should be chosen to decorate it. Assuming that the environment of the garden proper is more or less woodland in character,' the gardener's concern will be to choose from the vast variety offered by modern nurserymen, In spacious grounds, room will not be grudged to an ancient oak or two, or a group of beeches or limes. But in a garden of modest dimensions the presence of these and other trees with far-reaching, hungry roots will impoverish the borders and cause the loss of many a precious thing. Luckily we have among the many coniferous trees introduced to this country during last century some which content themselves with a very moderate root-run. The columnar habit of such evergreens as the Lawson cypress, the incense cypress (Libocedras decurrens) and the pencil cedar (Juniperus virginianus) are of priceless effect among flowerbeds, providing those vertical lines which, as given by the Italian cypress, impart such a charming character to Mediterranean scenery. But it is sad to see how this effect has been marred or missed owing to the pernicious practice of growing such conifers as these from cuttings. Young plants, trim and verdant, come although this is very desirable for providing shelter it is not indispensable for fine effect. In the very heart of the treeless waste surrounding Kinbrace railway station in Sutherland, stands the shooting lodge of Badanloch. Never have I seen greater profusion of brilliant perennials than surprised me when I visited this place during the wet and cheerless summer of 1907. The garden was on a slope, open to all the winds of heaven, the soil being chiefly grit and peat from the nursery and perhaps do not betray their true character for several years. Gradually they assume the appearance of branches stuck in the ground, which indeed they are, or they send up a crowd of sticks instead of one straight leader. The only way to avoid disappointment in this matter is either to grow one's own seedlings, whereby five or six years delay is incurred, or to employ a trustworthy tradesman and insist on being supplied with plants grown from seed.

Another delightful tree, which used to be classed as a conifer, but has now been ascertained to be nearly related to the cycads and palms, is the gingko or maidenhair tree. It is deciduous: it is often misshapen, because grown from a cutting: but for grace and distinction a well-grown specimen is hard to beat, and it is perfectly hardy in many parts of Scotland.

Conifers, however valuable for winter greenery, afford unsatisfactory shade; and a shady place or places there must be in every garden however small. This can only be had in perfection from broad-leaved trees, and there is abundant variety to choose from. In a woodland country it is perhaps desirable to mark the select character of garden ground by giving a preference to exotic growths. Where beech and oak, elm and sycamore, form the background of garden scenery, it is an agreeable change to see fine specimens of sweet and horse-chestnut, robinia, tulip-tree, gleditsia, and the finer maples. The red flowering horse-chestnut, Æsculus carnea, a hybrid between the common horse-chestnut and the American Alsculus pavia, is far too seldom seen in Scottish pleasure grounds, though commonly planted in the neighbourhood of London. It is, however, perfectly at home in the north, and although it is generally considered to be of less lofty growth than the common sort, my experience with it leads me to believe that there is not much difference between the two kinds in that respect. If there is no more splendid spectacle in British woodland scenery than a well-grown horse-chestnut in full bloom, the red-flowered variety is no whit inferior, and the beauty of each is mutually enhanced by contrast.

One word about another tree too seldom seen, matchless as it is in certain qualities of foliage and outline—to wit—the evergreen oak. Its effect in a garden is well shown in Miss Wilson's view at Castle Kennedy (Plate X.). Changeless in its kindly neutral tint, save when the wind tosses the boughs to make them show the silvery undersides of the leaves, or for a brief period in early summer when the flowers and young growth spread a tawny tint over the grey, the holm oak never fails to attract admiration when it is well-grown. But it is not always grown to its best. Planted singly or at wide intervals, it is apt to assume the form of a huge bush; but submit it to the early discipline of close planting—a dozen or so in a group six feet apart—and you may get a magnificent tree like the one at Rosanna, co. Wicklow, which is 90 feet high, loftier than any of the species in its native Southern Europe, so freely does it respond to the genial influences of the west.

The task of making a selection of garden scenes in Scotland has been one of much perplexity. In order to make it representative of all styles and scales, many famous and beautiful places have been passed by. Moreover, the summer of 1907 was the wettest and coldest we have had for thirty years; which frustrated many attempts to portray gardens in the remoter parts of the country. Had it been Miss Wilson's lot to have executed her task during the summer of 1908, not only would the work have been more agreeable but it would have had more satisfactory results. The purpose of artist and author has been to present specimens of gardens of every degree—modest as well as majestic, formal as well as free—whereby the possessor of the humblest plot of ground may be stimulated to beautify it with as fair hope of proportionate success as the lord of thousands of acres.

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