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Scottish Gardens
Gartincaber, Perthshire


HE whole plan and purpose of this book being to illustrate types of Scottish horticulture, the grandiose and elaborate have received no preference over the unpretending and simple. Any space of Scottish soil, be its dimensions calculable in roods or in acres, will serve our turn, so that it be an abode of flowers well tended, or at least, unspoilt, by its owner.

Simple, indeed, is the garden design at Gartincaber—a plain rectangle sloping pleasantly to the sun; at the upper-end a sixteenth century tower, with nineteenth century additions naively contrived; at the lower-end a clear pool, not ample enough to aspire to the title of "loch," yet, shadowed by dark firs on the far side, too comely to bear the common Scottish term "a stank." This walled enclosure is laid out in the old manner, subdivided by crossed paths, with a sun-dial at the crossing; kitchen herbs and small fruits in the four quarters,

with narrow selvage of flowering things, overhung here and there by aged apple trees. Nothing can have been further from the designer's intention than landscape effect: use, not ornament, was his purpose, flowers being admitted in grudging concession to feminine frivolity ; but age has brought about delectable results—age, and the affectionate tending of generations. Lofty holly hedges, such as John Evelyn praised, screen the litter in such corners where litter must be; a few massive sycamores add dignity to the scene in winter and shade from summer heat, without, as it seems, impoverishing the borders, for these teem with blossom to the very feet of the trees. But they are flowers of modest requirements—winter aconites and snowdrops, daffodils and wind-flowers, bloodroot, violets white and purple, primroses and oxlips of many hues—all old friends, the older the better to be loved. On this mid-April morning in a late—a very late—season, what strikes one as most notable is the abundance of double white primroses on usually long footstalks, surely a strain peculiar to the place.

I have dwelt on the simplicity of this garden, but every yard of it bears witness to affectionate care, and in one respect this affection has evinced itself in a manner reflecting agreeably the classical taste of a bygone age. Thus at the foot of the slope has been placed a wide stone bench, whereof the back bears this inscription:

The sun-dial in the middle of the garden is also inscribed with many legends, and bears on its base a dedication to Mr. and Mrs. Burn-Murdoch "on their golden wedding," from their grandchildren, Lorna, Dorothea, Ian, Marion, and Colin.

It is no modern trait in the family, this pretty taste for inscribing stones. During the four centuries or thereby it has stood, the house of Gartincaber has owned no other lord than a Murdoch, and the dormer windows bear legends in relief; on one, NOSCE  TEIPSVM 3, surmounted by a thistle; on another a tag from Juvenal:

under a man with a bent bow.

1. Mary, Hannah, Anne, Alice, daughters of John and Dorothy Murdoch, have presented this seat to the garden which we love. 1905." Horto nobis dilecto had been a more graceful rendering.

2 "This little corner pleases me better than all the world beside." Horace, Odes ii. 6.

3"Know thyself"—the Attic . "Oh Athenians, your wisdom reaches us across the centuries! We hear your murmured messages—' Know thyself,' `Nothing in excess!' We who have travelled so far, and yet so little, we who are still scaling the heights you reached—Athenians, we salute you!"

The Diary of a Looker-on, by C. Lewis Hind.

4 " Death alone discloses how feeble are the bodies of men."—Juvenal, Sat. x, 173.

may have been inspired by the haughtiness of some affluent neighbour ; the lord of Doune, perhaps, whose great castle, though now in ruins, still scowls defiance from the further shore of Teith.

Even the latest addition to the old house bears its appropriate legend, the gable of the new drawing-room bearing one well expressing the spirit which has attached this family to its ancient home:

I - DWELL - AMONG • MY - OWN - PEOPLE, 3

Of the two avenues which, planted at right angles to each other, lead up to the house, the northern, consisting of two double rows of beeches, has been sorely wrecked by gales, but the west avenue is still intact, a remarkable and far-seen feature in the landscape. Running along the comb of a ridge, it is composed of lime trees which appear to be about 100 or 120 years old. The two rows are only fifteen feet apart; and the trees, set very closely in the rows, have been drawn up to the height of a hundred feet. There is no nobler prospect in Scotland, none richer in historic association, than

1. "I Live by yourself, and you will find out how ill-furnished is your mind." Persius, iv. 52.

2 "I am on my guard against the guest who draws comparisons between himself and me, and contemns my slender means."

3 Kings iv. 13.

that commanded from the outer end of this avenue. Yon white tower, standing in the newly sown cornland, was built to mark the centre of the Scottish realm; broad and fair around it spreads the fertile cause, through which the looped Forth winds its leisurely way. You may trace its gleams till they are lost in the blue haze on the east, where the sunlit Ochils, Stirling Castle, and Polmaise woods arrest the eye, only a little nearer than blood-boultered Bannockburn and Falkirk. All along the southern horizon stretch the flat-topped Lennox Hills and Campsie Fells, their outline presenting marked contrast to the tumultuous range on the north, where Ben Ledi and Stuc-a'chroin still wear their snowy hoods. Far on the west Ben Lomond rears its cloven cone, commanding outpost of the Highland host. Every feature in the landscape has its story for the understanding eye, from northward Ardoch, where Julius Agricola has left enduring memorial of his conquest in the earthen ramparts of his camp, to nearer Kippen on the south, where Prince Charlie's Highlanders crossed the Ford of Frew when last Great Britain felt the throes of civil strife.

A word about the Murdochs of Gartincaber. They trace their descent from one Murdoch, who rendered yeoman service to Robert the Bruce in his hour of need. In the early spring of 1307, the King of Scots was hiding in the Galloway hill country with a few hundred followers. King Edward's troops beset all the passes: escape seemed impossible, and Bruce caused his men to separate into small companies, so as to make subsistence easier. But he appointed a day when they were all to muster at the hill now called Craigencallie, on the eastern shore of lonely Loch Dee. Here, in a solitary cabin, dwelt a widow, [The name Craigencallie signifies in Gaelic "the old woman's crag," and is cited in evidence of the truth of the legend.] the mother of three sons, each by a different husband, and named Murdoch, Mackie and MacLurg.

The King arrived first, and alone, at the rendezvous. Weary and half-famished, he asked the widow for some food ; nor asked in vain, for, said she, all wayfarers are welcome for the sake of one. "And who may that one be?" asked the King.—"None other than Robert the Bruce," quoth the goodwife, "rightful lord of this land, wha e'er gainsays it. He's hard pressed just now, but he'll come by his own, sure enough."

This was good hearing for the King, who made himself known at once, was taken into the house and sat down to the best meal he had eaten for many days. While he was so employed, the three sons returned, whose mother straightway made them do obeisance to their liege lord. They declared their readiness to enter his service at once, but the King would put their prowess as marksmen to the test before engaging them. Two ravens sat together on a crag a bowshot off; the eldest son, Murdoch, let fly at them and transfixed both with one arrow. Next, Mackie shot at a raven flying overhead, and brought it to the ground, and the King was satisfied, although poor MacLurg missed his mark altogether.

In after years, when the widow's words had been fulfilled by Bruce coming to his own and being acknowledged King of Scots, he sent for the widow and asked her to name the reward she had earned by her timely hospitality.

"Just gie me," said she, "you wee bit hassock o' land that lies atween Palnure and Penkiln"—two streams flowing into Wigtown Bay.

The King granted her request. The "bit hassock," being about five miles long and three broad, was divided between the three sons, from whom descended the families of Murdoch of Cumloden, Mackie of Larg, and MacLurg of Kirouchtrie. Cuniloden remained the property of the family of Murdoch till 1738, when it was sold to the Earl of Galloway to discharge an accumulation of debt. The fine shooting of the founder of the family is commemorated in the arms borne by his descendants, and duly enrolled in the Lyon Register, viz., Argend, two ravens hanging palewise, sable, with an arrow through both their heads fess-wise, proper.

In the Justiciary Records of Scotland there is brief record of a horrible outrage perpetrated upon Patrick Murdoch of Cumloden in 1605. Robert and John, sons of Peter M`Dowall of Machermore, a near neighbour of Cumloden, were arraigned upon a charge of having seized Murdoch and his servant Peter M'Kie, and cut off their right hands. Peter M`Dowall was accepted as surety for his sons, who were liberated on their father's undertaking that they would appear for trial at Kirkcudbright, after receiving fifteen days' notice. But the M'Dowalls were a powerful clan. When the case was called at the assizes, a jury could not be empannelled, twenty-seven persons who were summoned preferring to pay the statutory fine rather than serve ; and we hear no more either of the malefactors or their victims.


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