Garden visit - Malleny

Malleny gardens is one of those small National Trust for Scotland Gardens, tucked away and a secret delight that's never too busy but always interesting. Just outside Balerno at the foot of the Pentlands the gardens and the house date back to the 17th century. We made this visit in July 2021 on a lovely sunny summer day.

Geraniums and Fevefew

Entering through the ivy glad wrought iron gates

Ivy growing up the entrance gate

It was once part of a much larger estate but now extends to 3.64 hertares of garden and woodland. Earliest records date from the early 1300's, it is mentioned in 1478 and the current house with its two stories and round stair tower dates from 1637 and contains many of the traditional architectural features of that time. In 1656 it was bought by the Scotts family. They were responsible for planting the yew trees you can still see today in the garden called the Four Evangelists, apparently planted to commemorate the Union of the Crowns. The property was rented out in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when the tenants developed the gardens extensively; Carmichael introduced wrought-iron features and Gourlay specialised in shrub roses. The final owners of Malleny, the Gore-Browne Hendersons continued the development of the gardens, introducing shrub roses and re-planting other parts.

The yew trees 

These days the gardens are divided into two distinct areas by a yew hedge. The easterly half comprises of the four stately yew trees, lawn, mixed borders and the greenhouse. Within the mixed flower beds many old favourites can be found. I've always found the NTS has a signature core of plants that can be found in many, not all of their gardens. I find this quite comforting and nostalgic, for a loooong long time ago in the mists of time I started my horticulture career with the NTS as a 16 year old, fresh out of school on their YTS scheme. So these core plants formed the very beginning of my life long learning of plant names and plant id and I have quite an affection for them as they take me back to an exciting time of my life when I could escape the constraints of home and explore the world. In fact I nearly ended up doing my year long YTS stint at Malleny, but as they didn't have a loo I was then sent to Inveresk. Though Malleny is lovely, Inveresk is wonderful, and I have very happy memories of working there and met some amazing folk along the way.

A secret garden awaits to be explored

Anyway I have somewhat digressed in my walk down memory lane. Herbaceous geraniums flop over the paths, backed by upright Campanulas, Cirsium, roses and shrubs, all mingling and filling the space. Squares of lawn have been seeded with wildflowers and form a checkerboard of pretty wildflowers in between the purple of low, clipped Berberis hedging.

Short hedges and grass paths dividing up
the easterly part of the garden

Purple Berberis hedges contrasts nicely
with the yellow of Alchemilla mollis

Inside the greenhouse

Through the hedges to the next area of garden

The western compartment consists of lawns and a vegetable garden. The lawns replaced the original tennis court and orchard. Now in this area you can find flower beds overflowing with sumptuously deliciously scented old roses under planted with perennials. There are 150 varieties of roses including a heritage collection of shrub roses. These are my favourite kind of roses and its easy to get lost in their wonderful scents. In amongst the roses are lots of perennials including Achillea, Anthemis and herbaceous clematis to name a few.

Anthemis and Achillea


Herbacious Clematis

Rose 'Prince Charles'

Shrub roses

Rose 'Tuscany Superb'

Roses and feverfew

Summer days out

Garden gates

Gates in the garden walls

A wander through a summer garden

From this part of the garden you skirt the edge of the house and come back though to the lawned area and the yew trees, through more herbaceous borders and lovely views of the house. From the gate you can walk across to the doocot partially hidden in the trees opposite the house. This doocot is unusual in that it has a saddle back roof rather than the usual conically shaped doocots we see dotted around the scottish countryside. From here you can walk past the fountain encircled with hosta and up through the woods. Mainly mixed deciduous trees with some yews at the western end. The woodland walk takes you gently up hill and out at the carpark. 

Malleny has parking just up from the entrance gate and is dog friendly which is great. 

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  1. Lovely pictures and Malleny gardens is now definitely upon our bucket list (as is a visit the Scotland), many thanks for sharing m'dear.

    1. Thanks, there are so many small gardens that often get over looked but are well worth finding and exploring


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