This week the Gallery Tart was on her holidays, having left the limits of London behind and landing in Scotland. It hadn’t been my intention to write any reviews during my time off but I was inspired to put pen to paper after my visit to Teasses Estate in the Kingdom of Fife. I’d booked a private tour around the gardens of the Estate for a birthday celebration. Of course it was raining a fine drizzle when we got there after it had been hot, yes I said hot, in Edinburgh the previous day. Never mind, we donned our raincoats and set off to find Craig, the Head Gardener.
I knew I was going to enjoy this tour as soon as we got to the meeting spot of the Walled Garden, there’s a little wooden honesty box for self-guided tours of the garden, it was so un-corporate and friendly. Craig found us, introduced himself and led us off on the tour, we started with the Walled Garden, the centre piece is the renovated glasshouse, it had fallen completely into ruin but the current owners have totally rebuilt it in the original Victorian style, it looks and feels completely in keeping with the garden.
We walked around the walled garden which is in fact, only half walled, Craig explained that the walls have pipes through which heated water had been run originally to provide a warm environment for growing exotic fruits and vegetables. The whole garden has been replanted, the layout may feel formal but it’s actually practical. The grounds are mostly given over to growing food produce and flowers for use in the main house, the focus is on growing organically and some interesting approaches are taken such as experimenting with growing certain vegetables together. Craig explained that in the squash patch, the squashes are grown with corn and beans, the corn supports the beans, and the squashes provide ground cover, which works very well.
The tour then moved into the woods and we tramped down to Sir Fraser’s garden, Craig explained that different family members have gardens within the site, Sir Fraser’s was the first. The area felt quite Victorian again, with a giant rhubarb and small pond giving a sense of lush rainforests, exploration and adventure. We climbed up towards the summer house where Craig gave us a short history of the house and estate. On a clear day, he assured us, we’d be able to see Edinburgh and the Forth Bridge. We settled for a romantic, misty drizzle.
Craig enthused about the finds that have been made in the house and gardens that give an indicator of the long history of the estate which stretches back to the 1200s when it was granted to Master of Blair by the Earl of Fife. The history of the house is slowly being pieced together through these finds and, this summer, in commemoration of 25 years since the present owners bought the house, a small exhibition has been created showing the progress of the restoration. It was really interesting and shows how much work has been put into restoring the house.
We walked on to come into view of the main house and formal gardens with its and one holed golf course! The present house was built in the early 19th century by William Burn and extended by John Curie in the 1870s after it was bought by the Baxter family. It’s really reflective of the Neo-Gothic era with its castle style turrets, arched windows and brickwork. It was apparently even more Gothic looking with additional spires but these burnt down in a fire.
We carried on through the gardens passing through a conifer hedge that was covered over with a beautiful climber plant with jewel-like red flowers. I really loved this, you can see the photo below, it doesn’t harm the main plant, I think I liked it’s delicacy and vibrant colour.
This led us to the pool house and pond. Although contemporary, the pool house was built in Victorian style with a beautiful pond nearby with reeds and water lilies, it was still drizzling so the flowers were closed, I can imagine it makes a great display when it’s dry and sunny! I did get a sense of Monet’s garden about the Teasses gardens, the view from the central spot of the greenhouse onto the sloping lawns with the iron frames for climbing plants, is reminiscent of Giverny as, of course, are the ponds with their lilies.
Towards a new Giverny?
We rounded back to the Walled Garden and the welcome shelter of the Glasshouse to have some lovely tea and cakes. Despite the weather and possible trench foot, this was a great experience, Craig’s joy in being Head Gardener is abundantly obvious which made the tour really enjoyable, he was happy to answer any questions and add lots of anecdotes about the history and revival of the estate. I felt like we’d gotten a private glimpse into the running of a contemporary estate, house and gardens. Definitely a ‘Hidden Gem’.
Cake was good too!
Rita – Gallery Tart