A Green Gem in the Borders

Love gardens but loathe gardening? Now summer is here, gardens across Scotland burst into bloom and are there to be discovered and enjoyed. We take a trip into the Borders to discover one flowering, hardy gem. So whether you’re managing a window box, tending beds, planning BBQs or planting out seeds in the hope of a bumper crop … we hope this Blog will inspire you to get your fingers green this summer …


The town of Peebles is right in the heart of the Scottish border – where the River Tweed and the Cuddy (Eddleston Water) meet. The town’s location was created by the waters carving the landscape – and the surrounding countryside is blessed with gorgeous gardens. Some are open as part of the Scotlands Gardens programme on selected days through the year: you can check these out via this link. We’re visiting one.

Kailzie Gardens, is south of the River Tweed (on the B7062) between Peebles and the historic Traquair, Scotland’s oldest inhabited house. There are remains of old forts on the hillside that show this landscape has been inhabited for centuries: the first recorded mention was in 1296 when William of Hop Kallow swore allegiance to Edward I. Fifty years later, King David II confirmed a grant in respect of Hop Kailzie to James of Tweedie. It remained in the Tweedie family for hundreds of years.

Roll the clocks forward to 1638 and records show that the lands of Kailzie were owned by the Earls of nearby Traquair. Through the eighteenth to the 20th centuries, different family owners came and went – from the Balfours to the Plenderleiths, the Campbells and the Blacks – all leaving their mark on Kailzie. The Plenderleiths undertook a lot of planting. John Campbell rebuilt the house after a fire and constructed the present stable block and walled garden (1811).

In 1914 the estate was acquired by one William Cree – an uncle of the present owner’s father-in-law. Just over fifty years ago, the Georgian house was demolished. The present owner, Angela Lady Buchan-Hepburn, started developing what was then a near wild garden. Her focus was to complement the property’s magnificent setting and make full use of the best of what was left of the historic plantings.

Kailzie – originally known as West Kelloch (which means wooded glen) – stands at 700ft above sea level and much of the landscape faces to the north and east. Winters can be severe. In the harshest of winters, more than 20 degrees of frost have been recorded. In fact, they’ve recorded frost in every month of the year – so this is no easy-to-manage tropical garden! The selection of plants is therefore limited – hardy is the order of the day.

The walled garden is where the 1960s restoration programme began. It is contained in and protected by a fantastic 18ft high wall. Island beds were laid out and planted with hardy shrubs and several varieties of old-fashioned roses. The herbaceous borders were created, copper beech hedges planted – retaining the original sundial (designed by A. Adie of Edinburgh in 1811) as the centrepiece. In 1980, a Laburnum Walk was added. A year later, a formal rose garden. Both are essential to the garden’s plan and help to generate elements that satisfy the senses – from magnificent shapes and colours to incredible scents.

Over the last thirty years, the gardens have continued to develop – growing to include greenhouses, ponds and some lovely walks. The variety of tree and plant species have created a wildlife haven, most notably for birds – so don’t forget your binoculars.

The gardens have led to other enterprises in this stunning corner of the Borders: just click on the following to discover more …

The Garden Cafe   Osprey Watch   The Kailzie Bunkhouse (sleep 24)   Holiday Cottage (sleeps 6)   Kailzie Equestrian   Kailzie Fishery

Check out our video for a taster – and thanks for reading.