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Scottish Gardens
Smeaton-Hepburn, Haddingtonshire


EATON - HEPBURN is delightfully situated on the river Tyne in the most fertile champaign of all Scotland—the seaward portion of the county of Haddington. The remarkable collection of trees, shrubs, and flowering herbs which adorns the grounds owes it affluence to the enthusiasm of two generations of amateurs, for to the love of trees which inspired the late Sir Thomas Buchan-Hepburn, his son and successor Sir Archibald has added a keen intelligence in the cultivation of herbaceous and alpine plants. The herbaceous plants occupy borders in the old-fashioned walled garden; where also is a teeming and interesting nursery of that most perplexing, yet fascinating race, the Saxifrages. S. Elizabethce and apiculata are particularly luxuriant, having overflowed in verdant volume the stone compartments assigned to [Owing to a severe illness in the spring of 1908, Miss Wilson unfortunately was prevented from visiting Smeaton-Hepburn in order to make a drawing in the garden there. Notwithstanding the consequent absence of a plate, I have thought that a few notes about this fine collection of shrubs and plants may be not without interest.] them. Two kinds of wind-flower, Anemone alpina and palinata alba were in great beauty when I saw these borders last; and at that time, the end of May, the most conspicuous wall shrubs were Ceanothus rigidus sheeted with deep blue, and Caronilla emerus, pointille or, as heralds would term it—in plain language sprinkled with clear canary yellow. Both these last betoken a genial, sunny climate, albeit we are here a long way north on the east coast.

For the alpines, Sir Archibald has prepared a home worthy of his treasures; a wide space sheltered by woods from cutting winds, yet lying fair to the sun, having been covered with rock-work constructed with far more attention to cultural requirements than to scenic effect. Here is no tea-gardenish attempt to mimic the Himalayas or ape the Andes; the plants are grouped upon raised ledges and mounds for the double purpose of securing rapid drainage and of bringing them under the eye for closer inspection ; while rocks are employed, not for mere effect, but to check radiation and evaporation, which, in excess, are the two chief adversaries to plant growth, and to provide a cool and natural root run for exacting mountaineers. To do justice to this fine collection would have taken more hours than I had to spare. Among the species which their luxuriance made it impossible to overlook were Gentiana verna, that capricious beauty so seldom seen taking kindly to imprisonment; Mitella trifida, more attractive than the rest of the genus; Saxifraga rhei superba, really justifying its additional epithet, Primula farinosa making a miniature grove of rosy bloom, Ramondia pyrenaica and i athalice, flowering profusely, but inclined to gasp for cooler shade. Prostrate phloxes, Arenaria and encrusted saxifrages peopled the slopes in lavish abundance. The charming Chatham Islands sorrel, Oxalis enneaphylla, had just opened one or two of its milky blossoms, and the time of Dianthus and Campanula was at hand when a fresh chord of colour would be struck.

Near the mansion house a fine deodar, 70 or 80 years old, stands in sisterly proximity to Cupressus macroca7pa from the opposite hemisphere. They have been of mutual benefit to each other by encouraging upward growth, and so preventing that podgy, lateral spread which is so destructive of the true character of most conifers. When will landscape gardeners learn that fine park timber cannot be had without submitting it first to forest discipline?

A splendid bush of Garrya ellyptica stands on the lawn before the house. It measures 63 feet in circumference, and is the growth of 47 years, for it was killed to the ground in the winter of 1861.

In crossing the park to the lake, one cannot fail to be charmed by the clouds of poet's narcissus springing from the turf in all directions. Never have I seen such a display; they have run abroad in millions. Perhaps there is no other flower which unites purity of colour so completely with simple grace of form. Was this, think you, the species whereof Mahomet spoke when he said—"Let him who hath two loaves sell one, and buy flower of narcissus; for bread is but food for the body, w:iereas narcissus is food for the soul."?

The most delectable part of all this demesne lies round the lake. A precipitous crag screens the southern shore, planted with many choice trees and shrubs. It is a great pleasure to be escorted thither by Mr. Brown, who has tended these grounds for more than fifty years, and can show you conifers 100 feet high planted by himself under direction of the late Sir Thomas Hepburn. Specially notable are Picea sit chen sis and A bies nobilis, and by ascending to the summit of the crag you may have the pleasure, unusual in this country, of viewing these lofty trees from a level with their tops. Here and there advantage has been taken of clearings in this fine wood to plant Himalayan rhododendrons, bamboos and other shelter-loving growths.

ENVOI
Farewell dear flowers: sweetly your time ye spent,
Fit while ye lived for smell or ornament,
And after death for cures.
I follow straight, without complaints or grief,
Since, if my scent be good, I care not if
It be as short as yours.
-- George Herbert.


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