The History of Kailzie Gardens

Kailzie was originally known as West Kelloch, which means wooded glen. Remnants of old forts on the hill indicate that man has lived here for a long time. The first recorded mention was in 1296 when William of Hop Kallow swore allegiance to Edward I and paid the then princely sum of 30 shillings to the King.

In 1326 King David II confirmed a grant in respect of Hop Kailzie to James of Tweedie. It remained in the Tweedie family for several centuries, and at some stage they built a keep, the site of which can still be clearly identified.

In 1638 the lands of Kailzie were owned by the Earls of Traquair. Kailzie then passed through the hands of several owners: Burnetts 1656-1687, Balfours 1687-1723 (built a house on a less exposed site than the old keep), Plenderleith 1723-1767, Kennedy 1767-1789, Stoddart 1789-1794, Campbell 1794-1841, Giles 1841-1866, and Black 1866-1914.

In 1914 the estate was acquired by William Cree, an uncle of the present owner’s father-in-law. During the time that the Plenderleiths owned Kailzie, they undertook a lot of planting, John Nutter Campbell’s contribution was to rebuild the house after a fire, constructing the present stable block and walled garden. His portrait by Raeburn still hangs in the City of Glasgow Art Gallery.

Kailzie House
Kailzie House

In 1962 the Georgian house was demolished. It was sited near the duck pond, with magnificent views over the Tweed Valley. Soon after, the present owner, Angela Lady Buchan-Hepburn embarked on a plan of developing what was then an almost wild garden. Her central idea was to complement the magnificent setting of the property, whilst making full use of the best of what was left of the original plantings.

In order to appreciate the problem she confronted, it is important to realise that Kailzie stands at 700ft. above sea level on the south bank of the Tweed which means that generally the estate faces to the north and east. Winters can be severe, with as much as 23 degrees of frost being recorded in 1973. In fact, frost has also been recorded in every single month of the year, with as much as 12 degrees on one midsummer’s day!

Plant selection is therefore restricted to only the most hardy, and even some of these can be damaged in severe winters such as those of 1978/79, 1982/83 and 1995/96, with 24 degrees recorded – the worst ever.

The Walled Garden contained by a magnificent 18ft high wall was built in 1811. It was grassed over during the war and seemed a logical place to start. First, the island beds were laid out and planted with hardy shrubs and several varieties of old-fashioned roses. Then theHerbaceous Border was created, backed by a copper beech hedge. A cupressus hedge was planted, leaving the old sundial designed by A. Adie of Edinburgh in 1811 as a centrepiece.

The Laburnum Walk was erected in 1980 and a formal Rose Gardenbegun in the following year.

These are both essential elements in the overall plan to create as much colour and interest over as many months of the year as possible.

Minimum maintenance was another factor that had to be considered!