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Scottish Gardens
Castle Kennedy, Wigtownshire

RAVELLERS to Ireland by Stranraer and Larne begin to collect their minor movables when the express rattles over the lofty viaduct at Glenluce. Near this point the line leaves the moorland through which it runs almost continuously for forty miles westward of Castle Douglas, and enters upon a flat cultivated tract. Glimpses of the sea, which at no distant geological period covered this plain, may be had on either hand; Loch Ryan forming the northern, as Luce Bay the southern, horizon.

At the narrowest part of the isthmus between these seas a liberal space has been devoted to landscape gardening on a heroic scale. On the right of the railway, three or four miles east of Stranraer, the traveller may view the ample demesne, or (to use the native phrase) the "policies" of Castle Kennedy; and, if he is master of his own time, will do well to devote a morning to closer inspection thereof.

If there is a prevailing blemish in British park scenery, it is a tendency to sameness. That has been avoided at Castle Kennedy by a peculiar treatment of natural features, in themselves the reverse of imposing, such as I have not seen attempted on a similar scale elsewhere. Here, on the isthmus between two seas, lie two ample sheets of fresh water, the Black and the White Lochs of Inch ; and the inner isthmus between these lakes has been wrought into a strange complexity of terraces and grassy slopes. The ruins of Castle Kennedy, a good example of the domestic architecture of the seventeenth century, destroyed by fire in 1715, stand on a green plateau at one end of this isthmus. At the other end, best part of a mile distant, is the modern mansion of Lochinch, residence of the Earl of Stair, a spacious specimen of that style which was developed under French influence in the sixteenth century ; when country houses, ceasing to be purely defensive, assumed more hospitable features.

How comes it that two such great castles stand fronting each other within the same demesne? Was it not said by those of olden time, and have not our fathers declared unto us, that

"'Twixt Wigtown and the town of Ayr,
Portpatrick and the Cruives o' Cree,
Nae man need think for to bide there
Except he ride wi' Kennedy."

Ah! but time brings strange revenges. About ten miles east of Castle Kennedy, on a bleak and boggy moorland, are the ruins of Carscreuch; a mansion whereof Symson, the seventeenth century chronicler of this district, drily observes that it "might have been more pleasant if it had been in a more pleasant place." This most ineligible residence, shortly after Symson described it, passed by marriage into possession of Sir James Dalrymple, first Viscount Stair. Some three hundred years previously, the Kennedy clan had violently despoiled the Dalrymples of their modest possessions in Ayrshire, accomplishing that purpose not without much arson and bloodshed. The turn of the Dalrymples came when the seventh Earl of Cassilis, chief of the Kennedys, floundered into innumerable scrapes in covenanting times. Generation after generation, the Dalrymples were serviceable lawyers. Acre by acre, farm by farm, the wide lands of Kennedy in Wigtownshire passed to that family which owns them at this day.

This first Viscount Stair, President of the Court of Session, had a daughter Janet, out of whose troubled fortunes Scott created Lucy Ashton, the Bride of Lammermoor. The father of the seventh Earl of Cassilis, who, as aforesaid, was forced to part with his territory to his hereditary enemy, also figures in Scottish romance, for his first wife's elopement furnished a theme for the well-known ballad of Johnnie Faa.

"The gypsies cam' to our lord's yett,
And O but they sang sweetly;
They sang sae sweet and sae very complete
That down came the fair lady.

And she cam' tripping doun the stair,
And a' her maids before her;
As sune as they saw her weel-faured face,
They cuist their glamour o'er her.

'O come wi' me,' says Johnnie Faa,
'O come wi' me, my dearie;
For I vow and I swear by the hilt o' my sword
That your lord shall nae mair come near ye.'

'Gae tak' frae me this gay mantle,
And bring to me a plaidie;
For if kith and kin and a' had sworn,
I'll follow the gypsy laddie.

'Yestreen I lay in a wedl-made bed,
Wi' my gude lord beside me;
This night I'll he in a tenant's barn,
Whatever shall betide me!'"

[It is only fair to the memory of this countess, who was Lady Jean Hamilton, daughter of the first Earl of Haddington, that the legend of her elopement is amply disproved by the fact that she lived with her husband for 21 years, and that he spoke of her with much affection in letters written after her death. W. E. Aytoun carefully examined the character of this ballad, which he regarded as "by far the most mysterious of Scottish traditionary tales," and failed to reconcile it with any real incident. In publishing it in his Ballads of Scotland, he suggested that it "was a malignant fiction, possibly trumped up to annoy Bishop Burnet (who married Lady Cassilis's daughter) who had many enemies."]

It was John second Earl of Stair, better known as Field-Marshal Stair, who, in the interval between his military and diplomatic achievements, planned the terraces and pleasure grounds of Castle Kennedy, and embellished his lands with much planting. The work lasted from 1730 to 1740 under direction of one Thomas M`A11a, from whose copious correspondence with his employer a couple of extracts may be permitted, were it only as an example of eighteenth century orthography.

Castle Kennedy January yr 29th 1737.

I reciued your lordship's leter which glues me great incuredgement to be kerfull and Diligent about what of your lordsbeps business I am Intrusted with, the principall work nou in hand is that great walk alongs the Canall. Your lordshep in the leter I got told me ther uas six troup horses to stand at this pies In the Stabell to asist me in Carin on the work they bing mothereth [moderate] wrought uold ben mor the beter than uors [worse] and the work uold aduanced much quiker but ther is non of them Corn her as yet, they bing so long Delied [delayed] and the Riding Exerces shortly coming on I fer I will be littl the beter of them. I haue ben Remouing the tris out of the gret land belo the bellvadair It will teak a good deall of work but I sic by what Is don of It that it will beutifi that pleace mor then what I could conceue from the belluadair [belvedere] the bason apers lik a great glas . .. I humbly thank your lordshep for the gret Incuregen leter I got It was very Inlivening and reuiuing to me.

The "troup horses" referred to belonged to the Scots Greys, of which famous regiment the Field-Marshal was Colonel, and had a squadron thereof permanently quartered in Wigtownsllire. Five years later, honest M`Alla was in difficulties, not for want of horses but of that which "makes the mare to go."

Jan' y` 5th 1738.

... I an nou diging the ground to Inlarge the planting at baluadair [Belvidere] as your lordship ordered. I am also Remouing that strip of planters on the uest sid of the flourin sherub wildernes the Alterations that uas med the last year and this on both sids of the flouring sherub wildernes, and the perter [parterre] beutifais that sid to perfection from Mount Malbarou to Mount Elmer; ther can be no finer prospect then it is nou . . . I haue planted a lin of uery good bich [beech] at the foot of the bre [brae]. I was obledged to fors Earth to plant in them, for ther is no Earth in that bre ; it is a lous dry runin sand. Ther is no tri uill grow on the fac of that bre, it bing so lous dray sand, without any mixter of Earth. . . . Your lordshep desirs me to giue som money to the masons hir, but I ashour your lordshep I haue not on peny to my self. Your lordshep ordered Mr. Roos to giue me tuenty pound of my by gon uages, but he uold not giue me on farthen. I am uery sor straitened for som money I am deu to som pipell hir causes me nou to aplay to your lordshep for rellif. I thank God I haue your lordshep to aply to; I sie hou it uold be with me uer it otheruays."

Yon sibi sed posteris. Upon no human undertaking does the decree sic vos non vobis attend so inevitably as upon tree planting. Scarcely had the Marshal's oaks cast their foliage a hundred times before a ruthless edict of the seventh Earl, known and dreaded by country folk as Hobblin' Jock, owing to a limp in his gait, laid every stick of them low, and the pleasure grounds went back to wilderness. The eighth Earl of Stair, succeeding in 1840, found a plan of the grounds in a gardener's cottage, and set to work to restore them. They were maintained and greatly beautified by his successors, especially by the tenth Earl, who died in 1903 at the age of 84. It is to his assiduous care that the present generation owes the fine collection of exotic conifers, broad-leaved trees and flowering shrubs. The landscape now only lacks what is held in store for generations unborn—the grace of aged timber—to fulfil the ideal of a lordly chace.

A great part of the isthmus between the lakes is devoted to a pinetum. Favoured by the mild western air, the Californian Pinus insignis (or radiata, Sargent) forms great domes of velvety bottle green, and the feathery Monterey cypress (C. macrocarpa) grows as freely beside it as both do on the Pacific sea-board near San Francisco. Unluckily the gales which sweep across the broad lake on the west have wrought sore destruction among some of the firs. The Blue Avenue, for instance, as Sir Joseph Hooker named a double line of A&ies nobilis on the slope facing the new castle, has been sadly knocked about, and the severe thinning practised in order to produce what are termed specimens has had the opposite result in many cases. Pines and firs are creatures of company, only displaying their special character of lofty, straight growth when they are disciplined as a forest. Yet there are growths of great beauty in the more sheltered places. The Himalayan Cupressus torulosa, [Dr. Augustine Henry pronounces this specimen to be Dacridiztm Franklinii,] tolerant only of British climate in the mildest districts, attracts attention from every arboriculturist. A double avenue of Auracarias shows how much these archaic trees gain by company of their own kind; or, rather, how much they lose by being isolated. Self-sown seedlings spring up freely-under these monkey-puzzles; other conifers which propagate themselves very readily, where ground game does not come, are Abies 7wbilis and Webbiana.

But after all, our concern is more with the garden and flowering things than with forest trees. Miss Wilson has planted her easel where the two are inextricably blended, a bank of azaleas backed by some aged evergreen oaks, which, by a lucky chance, escaped the doom prepared for the rest of the woodland by Hobblin' Jock. The water in the foreground is M`Alla's "bason lik a great glas."

The most remarkable feature, however, at Castle Kennedy is the vast number of choice rhododendrons, including many that are not usually reckoned hardy. There are hundreds of R. arboreun, cinnamomeum and campanulatum, chie~y white and pale-tinted, with which the glorious scarlet of R. barbatum and Thomson contrasts with almost startling effect. Rose and carmine are supplied by other varieties of R. arboreum and by its hybrids, while R. niveum supplies a note of deep mauve, with which, later in the season, one's eye is apt to be surfeited when the common R. ponticuin is in bloom. To see this matchless display in perfection, the first week in May is generally the best time. But go there when you will, there is always plenty to delight anybody, whether he be curious in rare and beautiful vegetation, or whether he be content to stroll over sunlit lawns and through shady alleys, with the shining lakes on either hand, peopled with hundreds of wild-fowl. The sward is kept to the texture of an Axminster carpet, with what amount of patient labour may be guessed from the fact that upwards of seventy acres are constantly shaven by mowing machines. It might seem unkind to dwell on these delights if they were only those of a private pleasure ground; but thousands of visitors avail themselves every year of the considerate decree which opens the gates of this paradise to the public on two days a week.

In the private flower-garden are some objects of much interest to botanists and gardeners. The quaint and beautiful bottle-brush shrub, Gallisternan, often erroneously confounded with Metrosideros and usually grown in greenhouses, flourishes on the terrace near the house with no other protection than a low wall and a mat cast over it in winter. It flowers freely and ripens seed every year. Near to it are such choice things as Rhaphioleptis japonica, Clianthus puniceus and Eugenia (myrtus) apiculata. In a shrubbery hard by, some of the more notable plants are various species of Pittosporantn, the Nepalese laburnum (Piptanthus), Acacia dealbata twenty feet high, [Since thin was written this plant has succumbed to the frost of 24th April, 1908, which, taking effect upon the vigorous growth induced by preceding heat, killed it to the ground level.] and Eucalyptus globules thirty feet The last named tree, which stands in a much exposed position, was blown down and killed to the root in the great storm of December, 1894, but has thrown up a new stem.

Taking it all round, Castle Kennedy must be reckoned one of the most remarkable of the larger gardens of Scotland.

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