Garden of the week: Dumfries House, Cumnock, Ayrshire


The great estates of Scotland are steeped in history, but nowhere does this come alive as vividly as at Dumfries House, where an ongoing investment program keeps this mansion and the gardens surrounding it relevant to visitors d ‘today.

The house is set in a wooded valley along the Lugar Water near Cumnock and the gardens surrounding it have been extensively restored, bringing them back to their original beauty and adding many new features.

The public has free access to the estate, making it a popular spot with locals as well as visitors from further afield and the high standard of horticulture and landscaping maintenance means it is always at its best in all season.

History of the garden

Dumfries House and the landscape surrounding it were laid out in the 18th century, but in 2007, when the estate and its contents were threatened with being sold and divided, the Prince’s Foundation stepped in to save the building and the unique collection of Chippendale furniture. that it contained.

An intensive period of restoration followed, reviving both the house and its policies and today, Queen Elizabeth’s huge walled garden is the awe-inspiring centerpiece of 2,000 acres of native woods, specimen trees, parks and farms.

Education is a major part of what happens at Dumfries House and the skills of stonemasonry and carpentry are among the many traditional trades that are taught on the estate. As a result, the gardens are home to an exceptional range of handcrafted summer houses and pavilions.

Strong points

Prior to its restoration, the four-acre walled garden was an abandoned space, filled with brush and weeds. It is now a productive organic vegetable garden where pumpkins ripen in the autumn sun and the last sweet peas scramble over the trellises.

The manure for the flower and vegetable beds comes from the estate’s organic farm and in summer the lower part of the garden contains an impressive display of delphiniums, a favorite flower of Prince Charles that played such an important role in saving the domain for the local community.

Near the entrance to the walled garden, cascades of water from a huge thistle-shaped fountain and range of elegant greenhouses contain fragrant leaf pelargoniums and other warm houseplants.

At the far end, the Kauffman Education Garden offers schoolchildren the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in growing food.

Do not miss

The Rothesay Garden is filled with sedums and hydrangeas that color fall while in front of the house is a giant flower bed filled with roses. The elegant labyrinth offers a puzzle for those who enter it while the adventure playground and water play area are both magnets for the kids.

Something else to watch out for

The Chinese Lugar Water Bridge is a contemporary achievement of 18th century design. This delicate structure leads to the arboretum where hundreds of young trees, planted over the past decade, offer a chance to compare the different growth patterns and leaf shapes of dozens of different varieties.

Best time to visit

Over the seasons, different areas of the garden take center stage. At Easter, 600,000 daffodils line the linden path leading to the Temple, an imposing decorative arch that forms a focal point on the north side of the valley. Daffodils are made up of six different varieties to extend the flowering season.

In summer the new rose garden in the walled garden is filled with color and scent while in autumn the leaves of the many varieties of trees that grow in the arboretum become fiery.

All recommendations in the region

Barony ‘A’ Frame, which can be seen from the estate, is a monument to the mining industry and the people who worked there while the neighboring Auchinleck House and Estate was the family home of columnist James Boswell of the great 18th century literary figure Samuel Johnson.


Dumfries House is on the A70, one mile west of Cumnock.


Phone. : 01290 425959

Robert Burns Birthplace Museum

Burns’ Cottage, built by the poet’s father, sits in the middle of Alloway, the village in South Ayrshire where the Bard was born.

Behind the chalet is an orchard and pond as well as vegetable beds and areas of tall grass which attract insects. A few hundred meters along the Chemin du Poète, with its poetry-inspired sculptures, is the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum where silver birch trees grow in a heather understory and where the children’s games is inspired by the poet and his work, featuring a witches cauldron roundabout and a miniature version of Burns’ cottage.

Another path leads visitors to the Burns’ Monument Gardens, near the ‘Auld Kirk’ and overlooking the ‘Brig O’ Doon ‘where Tam O’ Shanter’s gray mare, Meg, lost her tail.

The centerpiece of the gardens is an impressive monument, which has been recently restored and is surrounded by flower beds filled with roses and perennials.

The gardens face south and that, along with the mild climate, means that the plants in the garden continue to bloom late in the season.

Murdoch’s Solitaire




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