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Scottish Gardens
Dalzell Castle, Lanarkshire


is told of a distinguished Frenchman who applied himself resolutely to master the anomalies of English orthography and pronunciation, that he made famous progress with ordinary vocables such as "cough" and "plough," "read" and "bread," the verb "sow" and the substantive "sow," etc. ; but had to confess himself gravelled among proper names. "Here," he complained, "is a gentleman who spells his name C-H-O-L-M-O-N-D-E-L-E-Y, and you tell me it sounds `Marchbanks!' But it is not reasonable, that!"

Equally deceitful is the pitfall dug for the southerner who mispronounces the name Dalzell according to its spelling, or, as he or she may feel disposed to put it, pronounces it according to the misspelling. The correct pronunciation is attained simply by naming the consonants D L, with stress on the L. "Then, why on earth," grumbles the English visitor, "cannot Scotsmen spell names as they wish them pronounced?" To which fair rejoinder might be made by referring to such English names as Worcester, Cirencester, etc.; only that is the to quoque

form of argument—scarcely courteous, I trow; so it may be explained that in the old Scottish alphabet the character z did not represent the soft sibilant as in "zebra," but the consonantal y, as in "youth," to distinguish it from the vowel y, as in "syllable." If you press me further and inquire how "Dal" can fairly be supposed to represent the sound "dee," I am driven to retort that it is no whit more absurd than to write "Pontefract" when you mean one to read "Pomfret." So we start fair, you see: and having settled that point, let us look into Lord Hamilton's pretty Clydeside garden.

It is formed in terraces cut in the steep side of a deep and rocky gorge, through which a burn brawls impatiently to join the sweeping Clyde. Quoth William Cobbett, who paid a visit to Dalzell in 1832, "Here, were I compelled to live in Scotland, would I choose to reside." Since that time seventy—nearly eighty—years have run, to the mighty detriment of the atmosphere ; for the development of mining, smelting, and malodorous industries in variety has greatly altered for the worse the aspect of this part of Clydesdale. Scarcely would Sir Walter Scott recognise the groves round neighbouring Cambusnethan, where there is a railway station, solemnly placarded as "Tillietudlem," in compliance with the unconscious decree of the Wizard of the North.

But what Dalzell has lost in environment it has gained in the charm of contrast. You step off the tram midway between the busy hives of Motherwell and Wishaw, enter the park gate, and you have not passed far beneath an avenue of limes before you have exchanged an atmosphere pulsating with industry and pungent with its waste products into one vibrating with the song of birds and redolent of hawthorn and lilac. On the way to the flower garden you pass some fine trees—notably, an immense oak close to the castle. It separates into several great branches at ten feet above the ground, and is not remarkable for height; but it contains an enormous bulk of solid timber, the bole at its narrowest part measuring twenty-four feet in girth. It is a deceptive tree in one respect. At first sight I judged it to be of the sessile-flowered variety, which is the prevailing native form in the western districts of Scotland; and this impression was confirmed by the fact that the leaves were set on foot-stalks. But closer inspection showed that the flowers were also on long foot-stalks, that the leaves had "auricles" or little rounded flaps at the base, and that they were perfectly smooth on the back, without the pubescence which the sessile oak invariably has in greater or less quantity. This tree, therefore, belongs undoubtedly to the pedunculate race.

The flower garden is set on the terraces on the south side of the house, and very charming it is, with a happy combination of formality and freedom. Miss Wilson has chosen her subject on the upper terrace, when the Dutch borders, deeply bordered with box, were aglow with begonias. I followed her in early summer, before the bedding out had taken effect, but there was plenty to please the eye and awaken interest. The terrace walls were so beautifully embroidered in parts with aubrietia, rock-roses, arabis, wall-flowers, saxifrages, dianthus, and such like, which had been inserted as seedlings in the chinks of the masonry, and had grown into hanging cushions, that one could not but wish that some of the ivy, of which there is over-much to please a gardener, might be cleared off in favour of choicer growths.

The terrace stairs are neither prim nor kept too scrupulously bare. On the contrary, saxifrages, bellflowers and yellow corydalis enliven every step and joint, with here a springing fern or foxglove, and there a hanging clematis. There is just enough alluring disarray to soften the architectural preciseness of the design.

The lower terrace is even more delightful, for here a broad grass walk is laid between two long herbaceous borders. Woad tosses its golden spray amid troops of iris, and woodruff wafts its delicate incense from every waste corner. And to complete the charm, the sound of running water is ever in one's ears, rising from the burn far below, where, in a grassy glade, Gunnera spreads her broad sails, to be viewed, as so seldom they are aright, from above. On the further cliff, the woodland mantle parts broadly here and there to display great bays of rhododendron. They are chiefly the common R. ponticum, a plant with which familiarity has bred something stronger than contempt; but viewed from afar in this way nothing could be more beautiful than those great pools and channels of soft rose interrupting the surrounding verdure.

The beauty of this garden is greatly enhanced by its unison with the castle perched above it, which, originally built by the Dalzell, Earl of Carnwath, was sold in 1647 to James Hamilton, second son of John of Orbiston, who built wings to the old keep. Too many similar houses either have been abandoned for more commodious mansions and been suffered to moulder in dishonoured neglect, or have been unskilfully and inharmoniously enlarged to meet the requirements of modern households. Dalzell Castle has escaped both these indignities. The original keep, grimly and massively defensive, with walls seven feet thick, received large additions in the picturesque style of the seventeenth century. Imminent was the danger of disfigurement when it was determined to make it yet larger in the mid-Victorian era—an affluent period which was so fatal to many a historic pile; but the late Lord Hamilton was gifted with a nice judgment in matters structural and decorative, and also had the rare advantage of co-operation with R. W. Billings, who, for three whole years, devoted his rare knowledge and skill to enlarging and beautifying the old house, leaving it so that neither antiquaries, aesthetes, nor landscape gardeners can find foothold for a single unkind comment.

The castle occupies a site close to the Roman military road, known as Watling. Street, and antiquaries may hear, with less or more scepticism, that the garden summer-house was built in 1736 on the site of a Roman camp. The spacious grounds beyond and around the terraces are planted with many choice trees and flowering shrubs. Never have I seen such abundance of pink and crimson hawthorn—pity 'tis that the lord of this fair demesne should miss them in their prime, for, like the Laird o' Cockpen,

"His mind it ta'en up wi' affairs o' the State"

at this season.

Midway between the house and the kitchen garden is a well-ordered rose garden, sheltered from cutting winds by thriving conifers, deciduous trees, and hybrid rhododendrons. Two very shapely scarlet oaks add much grace to this part of the grounds. A dell near the carriage drive has been planned as a bog garden on a scale exceeding the means of keeping rampant growth in restraint. Coarse herbs almost invariably get the upper hand in such places to the obliteration of lowlier plants, and I saw little to enjoy here except bamboos, Siberian iris, and double lady's smock. It is a place to suit Primula japonica, which, when first brought to this country in 1874 was priced at 30s. a piece, but can now be grown in profusion by scattering the seed in moist places. The original strong crimson of this flower, dangerously near magenta, has broken into a variety of charming tints of pink, cream, and lavender.


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