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Garden notes for June

One of the positive sides of spending so much time around the house is observing the garden grow as spring turns to summer. Nature's triumphs and challenges often get missed as life bustles by...

Susan Burnett, my grandmother and the 9th Laird, was a very keen gardener and botanical artist. She moved the main flower and vegetable beds from the old walled garden (situated some 50 yards from the House, adjacent to the main avenue) to surround the House itself, greatly enhancing the policies for visitors and family. She focussed on planting deep, generous borders to flank the front porch, as well as adding hedging and beds to the lawn, giving structure and colour to the House's woodland aspect.

To the side, rockeries were constructed, glass houses built, raspberry canes planted and vegetable beds tended. This is still a true kitchen garden, with well established herbs within easy reach, as well as the new addition of a few hens scrabbling about under the blackcurrant and gooseberry bushes.

This year, the irises have done exceptionally well. These were one of my grandmother's favourite flowers, and it has been a joy to watch them grow and bloom... They can be elusive this far north and not every year is a success. Luckily, a combination of our gardener's care and attention (making sure the tubers are close to the surface, and the plants are in sunny, sheltered position) and a warm, dry May has helped them flourish.

As well as growing irises, Susan enjoyed painting them. However, it is her daughter Alice Harman (SBA) who truly captures their full glory in her intricate botanical watercolours. The picture we have in the drawing room means that even during the darkest of winters we can enjoy the bright, bold beauty of the iris.

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