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Scottish Gardens
Leckie, Stirlingshire

HE old house of Leckie stands about six miles west of Stirling on that fair wooded slope which makes the foot-hills of the precipitous Lennox range, separating it from the flat Carse of Menteith, through which lowland Forth, deep-cradled in willowy banks, winds her eastward way to meet her Highland sister, impetuous Teith. Apt emblems, these two rivers, of the two races of men whose confines lay along their course of yore. The Teith, poured from the great lochs of Vennachar and Lubnaig, rushes out upon the plain with as much tumult as did of old the Highland caterans, swarming from mountain and glen to drive a prey: the Forth—silent, sullen, profound—flows with scarcely perceptible current, yet moves as resistlessly as men of Saxon blood to the appointed end.

A beautiful old house, designed for that combination of domestic ease with defensive qualities that was the aim of Scottish architects in the hazardous reign of Queen Mary. On the east side a wing has been thrown out to meet the more exacting requirements of the eighteenth century; but even that did not serve to satisfy a modern household, and in the nineteenth century a brand new mansion was erected; the ancient home, with all its chequered association, was evacuated, the green "pleuse" and flowery borders were ploughed up, and the old house was applied to the accommodation of workmen and their families.

Yet it was not upon the fine new terraces or among the flaunting parterres that Miss Wilson's choice of a subject fell, but under the time-worn walls, where a few flowers still linger, though the former inmates have passed away. The house, so far as it is inhabited, now serves for a working man's dwelling; and readers may be disposed to dispute its claim for a place among Scottish gardens. Indeed, it affords no example of successful cultivation. The flowers are but those whose constitution enables them to survive neglect and run wild; but the drawing illustrates so well those gleams and flashes of colour which we sometimes see reflected from a forgotten past, that I could not find it in my heart to put it aside.

In this instance the colour comes from two species of Tropaeolum—namely, the annual Indian Cress (T. nasturtium), and the perennial T. speciosum, which cottagers sometimes call, by easy transposition of consonants, the "petroleum plant." Both of these are natives of South America, and, like many others

from the same region, adapt themselves with remarkable readiness to the cool soil and humid air of the north. The exquisite beauty of the perennial species, with its delicate leafage, festoons of carmine blossom and blue berries, has been the despair of many English amateurs; for there are very few places south of Yorkshire where it will consent to flourish. Yet it is very capricious; establishing itself sometimes in the most unexpected way and in the least likely environment. Thus in Mrs. Benson's beautiful garden at Buckhurst in Sussex, on a dry, hot soil, this tropaeolum has possessed itself of some of the borders, over-running shrubs and walls as wantonly and irresistably as in any Scottish cottage garden.

Leckie, like most places in this central plain of Scotland, is rich in historic association. It belonged once to King Robert the Bruce, who, in 1326, gave half the lands to his ancient ally Malcolm, Earl of Lennox, receiving in exchange two plough-gates of land at Cardross on the Clyde, [Not Cardross on the Forth, which is only a few miles east of Leckie.] where he built himself a country house and spent his declining years in the usual pursuits of a country gentleman—hunting, hawking, farming and yachting. It was at Leckie that Prince Charlie lay after Lord George Murray had routed General Hawley at Falkirk. It was the last house he occupied in the Lowlands, setting forth thence in the dark days of January, 1746, on his ill-starred march to the north, where his star was to be quenched for evermore on Culloden Moor.

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