Our garden slopes down towards the North Esk River, just south of Edinburgh, and faces south-west. The top of the slope is well-drained sand, but the underlying clay emerges at the bottom of the garden, so that is permanently wet. We are therefore able to grow a huge range of plants in a small area.
Kevock Garden was first planted over 40 years ago. The major development was done by Sir John Randall, an enthusiastic horticulturalist, but best known for his invention of the cavity magnetron (the widget that makes both radar and your domestic microwave cooker possible), and for being head of the department in which Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin did their work on the structure of DNA. His scientific skill was shown by his botanical choices. His early plantings of trees are now mature, giving structure and form, and many of the rhododendrons, magnolias and camellias are substantial, flowering profusely in early summer.
At 77 he was unable to cope with the steep slope, and in 1983 we moved in. We reclaimed treasures from the undergrowth, and then, with a particular interest in rare alpines, started to build rockeries, terracing parts of the slopes. Many of the first plants were grown from seeds from the Scottish Rock Garden Club and Alpine Garden Society but now we draw on many sources, testing introductions in the garden. Here are some of them in the greenhouse.
Our garden overlooks the valley of the North Esk, just south of Edinburgh, facing Mavisbank House, an Adam mansion dating from 1730, and featured on the Restoration TV series. At the far end of the Mavisbank grounds we see what was a cricket ground in the nineteenth century. On the skyline we can just see Rosslyn Chapel, now sadly better known as the site of the climax of the Da Vinci Code, rather than for its spectacular and unusual architecture. Across the fields to the left is the Roslin Institute, where Dolly the sheep and her cloned siblings were manufactured and spent their lives. And down by the River Esk is Glenkevock House, where the plant collector George Forrest lived after his first expedition to China.
Our house is an early Morris and Steedman design, which featured in a programme as part of a BBC4 series, Living with Modernism, in Spring 2006. It is at the top of the slope, and it is like living in a tree house, as we look down on the kestrels hovering over the field below.
We open every year as part of the Scotland's Gardens programme and, by appointment only, to groups. We have also featured on Beechgrove Garden and articles have appeared in many newspapers and magazines, including Scotland on Sunday, The Scottish Garden, The Northern Garden, The Scotsman, Guardian, Glasgow Herald and Daily Telegraph.
Plant stalls are available when the garden is open, when we give talks about the garden, the nursery and our expeditions, and at Edinburgh Farmers' Market.
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