Scottish Garden Visits (1)

Kinross House Gardens begins my series of garden visits for the summer. Yep… and it ticked all the boxes for a formal garden. However, it also ticked a few more for garden watching too! I enjoyed my visit way more than I expected.

My intention for this garden visit was to be a quick wander and a brief photo shoot… before and after shots really. It has been a few years since I’ve been here and it was the long central border that was taking me back.

To enlarge any photos just click on them.

Knowing the layout… I thought I’d have a quick buzz about some other areas too. First off, I popped into the Kitchen Garden on the left just outside the garden entrance. Beautiful rows of healthy looking produce growing in tidy beds were seen… but what was that rustling sound?

Standing a moment, my question was quickly answered. Out from under the strawberry netting appeared a grey squirrel behaving decidedly suspicious! It ran off at speed towards the wall that surrounds the main garden. It dropped something on the path… a half eaten strawberry. I hadn’t realised squirrels would eat them!

Drawn to the deep blue flowers behind the greenhouse in the far corner I stood for a moment admiring the view ahead inside the garden. At the same time I enjoyed being in a kitchen garden that was very much cared for. More rustling could be heard.

Passing a fruit cage at a corner the noise got louder. Inside I could see blackcurrants on the bushes. At ground level I could also see a smaller grey squirrel frantically trying to get out from under the netting. It hid as I approached.

When I stood still it made a successful escape running off to a climber on the wall. I could hear the climber rustle now. I do suspect that more than a couple of eyes were watching me as I walked out the gate.

Through the arch, passing a tidy plant sales area and the neat lawns of a formal garden could be seen. Yes… before even walking out into the garden I just knew the long borders weren’t going to disappoint.

En route to the long borders I pass another classic formal garden feature… a raised circular pool with water lilies and a fountain sculpture. Symmetrical rose beds, clipped hedges, topiary, trees, garden seating areas and the perimeter garden wall kept ticking the boxes for a formal garden.

Almost there now! Just a brief stop for some garden watching first… lots of birds were about which was great to see. However it was the ones swooping to the ground that first caught my eye as I approached the house when I arrived. They were inside the garden too. Sorry, too fast for photos.

These are birds I have never seen in my garden (not enough space I suspect). You might have guessed what I was watching… swallows. I was transfixed for a while. I had never seen many at all and here they were all around me. Okay, moving on let’s take the steps now…. the border awaits.

The long border draws you down to a gate – the ‘Fish Gate’. Okay… this is quite a special (and historical) location. We’ll not go out there just quite yet though. This became my favourite part of this visit… some brilliant ‘just out of the garden’ watching there!

Looking from the bottom back up to the house gives a sense of scale to the garden and a contrast outside and inside this long border.

Borders like this need staking to help the plants keep upright by the end of the summer. Here you can see how it can be done and in a few weeks this will be completely hidden with the growth the plants will put on.

At the moment, the plants below look like they are patiently standing for the summer party to begin. Personally, I love this stage of the border. I also love the colour range across long borders like this. One minute you are looking at purples and pink…

Then seamlessly you are looking at hotter, deeper colours. Okay… so what’s on the other side of the ‘Fish Gate’?

Nope… I didn’t spot any fish! There was a clue in the background of the first border photo. Kinross House was built on the shores of Loch Leven.

Standing from various points in the garden and just outside this garden gate the ruins of Loch Leven Castle on ‘Castle Island’ can be seen. Passing by the town of Kinross along the motorway you can also clearly see the Loch and Castle.

Loch Leven Castle is most remembered for the imprisonment of Mary Queen of Scots in 1568. However, for 300 years it had an important role in Scotland’s history. Searching for info I came across some excellent photos from the island on the Undiscovered Scotland website with links to the history too. Boat trips across to the island operate over the summer months if you fancy the trip over to see it for yourself.

Oh… but what about the special ‘just out of the garden’ watching through this gate? Ah… for me this was very special and quite a surprise too. I opened the gate to…

.. a wonderful row of young swallows on the fence of an unused tennis court. Parent birds swooped in and out. I really was transfixed now! The birds didn’t seem bothered at all by my presence. I guess they had an idea I couldn’t get too close to them anyway. Photos were tricky to get.

On another side of the fence I was able to walk almost completely under three young swallows. Looking at them closely I could see their banana mouths which told me they were fairly recent fledglings. Not the best of pics though but I was just thrilled to capture this moment.

A quick flight across me as I stood still with my camera and my attention was now drawn to a green looking bird in a bush. What was that? I turned to take photos while the young swallows looked on from above me. I could barely see it as it was so well camouflaged.

I took the shot not knowing if I got it or not. I was thrilled that I did! My guess was a warbler perhaps. I posted my photo on the Birdforum and it was confirmed that it was a willow warbler. I had never seen one of them before so I was delighted.

Some time past as I returned to watching the longer strip of young swallows. Time was fast running out. Time to head back into the garden now. The sun was playing hide and seek with the clouds.

Inside the garden again and my eye was drawn to the border along the wall. I’m really not what you’d call a rose fan but I could not deny how well they looked with the stone of the wall.

Okay… let’s quicken our steps now along the perimeter edge of the garden. Ah… parent swallows are speeding away too having just flown over the gate.

Woah… this riot of colour did make me smile. Yep… formal gardens just wouldn’t be the same without roses. Bright colours really do stir the senses too don’t they?

Walking along towards the corner and the cooler paths under trees and the expanse of lawn can be seen once again. Green is such a relaxing colour. Oh… and what another lovely and expected moment of garden watching I was witnessing now!

Another parent bird and juvenile moment… this time it was a Pied Wagtail. I stood a moment longer but went no closer. What a ‘garden’ visit I was having!

Really must get going now. Walking to the opposite corner of the garden (past the pool) and we have a return to the classic formal garden vista….

Walking around the House to leave the garden and this not so classic formal garden view really caught my eye. It really made me smile… a children’s slide (blue like ours was) tucked in a corner like we used to do with ours.. Kinross House is a family home and not open to the public and how great to see that a young family can enjoy this garden too.

A final look back over the long border and Loch Leven Castle beyond…

Driving away and a brief stop to take a final look back across the front lawns to garden entrance. The swallows were still skimming along the ground as they had done when I arrived…

A final view of Kinross House from the driveway…

A final visit… I hope not. Ideally it would be great to return at the end of August to see how the long borders and kitchen garden looks then. Oh… and I wonder what birds will be visiting then.

Okay… I couldn’t wait until August! Yesterday I made a return visit with my video camera. Yep… you can perhaps guess where I was heading… this time I didn’t go into the garden.

When standing watching the rows of swallows just outside the garden gate I spotted people walking along a path. I knew there was a walk around parts of Loch Leven so I headed around the other side to see where I could pick it up.

From Kirkgate Park I was able to park my car and pick up part of the Loch Leven Heritage Trail. I had never been along this part before and within five minutes along it I was standing on the other side of the unused tennis court of the previous day and looking at a couple of swallows.

Not a long line of swallows this time but that was okay. I took my tripod this time and waited patiently. Meantime I took out my camera and got a couple of photos first but my quest on this visit was to capture footage of the young swallows being fed.

The young swallows were also waiting as you can see above. I was thrilled to get some closer photos this time. I did find it difficult getting the eyes in my photos as the head is so dark. I haven’t mastered enough settings in my camera yet. Ah… but I do know others who have like Richard and Mike who have some brilliant swallow shots on their blogs.

So was this second visit to this area worth it? Oh yes… I am absolutely thrilled to say it definitely was! Roll the film…

Bright midday sunshine made seeing in the viewer of my basic video camera difficult and focusing a bit tricky… but hey I did still get some swallows being fed on film. I am well chuffed!

One final look at Loch Leven Castle from the Loch Leven Heritage Walk seating area nearby…

There really is a lot to see in this area around the Loch. I’ve other photos from way back in April that I really must sort out to show you another time. I also must explore it some more! For the moment though, I’d like to wish you a great weekend and award you a gold star if you read all the way to the end again 🙂

Oh… one very final thing … this area has one other major attraction and it’s on this weekend. I’d like to wish all the revellers at Scotland’s Music Festival T in the Park a great time. My daughter is there for the first time this year so I’m especially hoping the weather holds out for them!

Enjoy your weekend and any garden visits you might have 🙂

All but the last three photos were taken on July 9th 2009. The video and last three photos were taken on July 10th 2009.

28 thoughts on “Scottish Garden Visits (1)

  1. A lovely read and great views of your garden visits.

    Well I never – is there nothing a grey squirrel won't steal? No wonder they thrive so.

    Great photos of the young Swallows and a brilliant piece of video. Amazing the way the parents don't even land to feed the young.

  2. So glad you enjoyed it John… don't often post on a Saturday. I hadn't planned a Garden Visit series either until I started writing this… I like the idea now 😀

    I agree, I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen the squirrel drop the strawb! The other one in with the blackcurants was even more strange… perhaps it was just passing through 😉

    Thanks, although nothing like the quality of Richard's of Mike's pics of the swallows I was still chuffed with mine. The video… oh I do wish I had been able to see to focus on it better. The sun was just too strong… maybe another time. Ah… but it did catch that parent action and I agree it was fascinating to see them not land to feed.

    Enjoy your weekend… as much as you can 🙂 Hope the Achilles tendon heals up soon. Great video of the collared doves… we have had only an odd one visiting but today the numbers rose to a staggering five! Should we be afraid… very afraid even 😉

  3. Wonderful photos Shirl, the gardens look wonderful!

    The Swallows are also lovely, I don't get them here and have always wanted them! Last year my mum had one trapped in their garage/kitchen – not at all jealous…

    I think the mystery bird is a Willow Warbler, perhaps even a wood warbler. But sometimes it's easier just to say a wiffwaff because Willow warblers and Chiffchaffs are so similar – Did you hear their call by any chance?

  4. A lovely post Shirl. I always think we are so lucky to have such a wealth of old houses, castles, palaces etc. in the UK, there always seems to be somewhere beautiful not too far away to visit. How wonderful to be a child and have that for your back garden, bliss!

    The Swallow photos and video are wonderful, no of course I'm not envious 😉

    We had to take someone somewhere the other day which I thought would just involve dropping them off but as it turned out we had to hang around for a while and I was mortified not to have my camera when I saw lots of Wagtails really close up. I returned to the same spot a few days later with the camera and I was sure I would see them again…I didn't 🙁

    Very well done on getting the Willow Warbler too and were there any butterflies on all that Lavender?

    I have also left (a rather late) comment on your last post. Have a lovely Sunday and a great week 🙂

  5. Sorry Shirl, silly me! I've just realised it isn't Lavender, I suspect a garden like that does attract plenty of butterflies though!

  6. Hi Shirl, tq for stopping by my blog earlier. What a blog you have here! So informative. This garden is really amazing. You did a good job in photographing the place. Thank you for the tour 😉

  7. Hi again Liz, thank-you! Thanks for the fav once again… it’s been good chatting on Blotanical. I float around a few places 😉

    Oh yes, the swallows were such a delight to see. I have no idea if any are around in my area but they would be so cool to see! I can see why you would want them. LOL… oh you wouldn’t want to see them trapped though… did she get any photos 😉

    Yep… willow warbler seems to be the ID. LOL… yes I have couple of times seen birds similar in my garden and wondered if they were chiffs or warbs 😀 No I didn’t notice any call as the swallows were chirping away requesting to be fed 😀

  8. Ok, you've knocked my socks off !
    Must have had a great time.

    Huge garden beds and so well groomed.
    The veggie bed is amazing.
    Love the brick work and long walkways and flowers galore.
    You even got pics of wild life.
    This is only part one ?
    Can't imagine there's more !

  9. Hi there Jan, thank-you, I agree completely and now that I have started this it would good to wander to others over the summer. Yep… there was also the frame for a trampoline too… and I spotted a pretty impressive assault course in the trees just off the main driveway!

    Thank-you, I was so thrilled to see these swallows and now I have a keepsake of that moment too. Aw… sorry to hear you weren’t so lucky on a return visit to the Wagtails. I felt if I left it any later with my return visit the parents may have stopped feeding their young hence my immediate return 😀

    Thinking about it the willow warbler perhaps I spotted another later along the garden wall inside. Think it was maybe catmint you were seeing perhaps. Didn’t spot butterflies in the garden but I agree it must get lots. Saw a number of bees. Just outside there were brown butterflies but they didn’t stay still long enough for me to get photos 🙁

    Thanks for your other comment I’ll pop back and read it now. Thanks, I will and wishing you a great day and week too 😀

  10. Hi there Stephanie, you are most welcome… thank-you for popping by here! Delighted you enjoyed your visit. 🙂

    I have to be honest and say I was more than pleasantly surprised with my visit and thoroughly enjoyed capturing photos of it. You are most welcome, glad you enjoyed the tour too and will watch out for more tours on your blog 😀

  11. Hi again Patsi, oh dear… hope you’re not cold now 😉

    You know, I have to be honest and say I knew what I was visiting for and didn’t really expect any more. Posting a few photos of the long borders was it… you can tell by the number of photos I took (actually 458 in total) how much I enjoyed my visit 😀

    I agree completely that the grooming of this garden from the veggies to the long border really was impressive. Even the stand for the plant sales was neat. That brickwork had so much character didn’t it? There were many more flower plantings along it but I was already posting too many photos.

    Wildlife photo opportunities were such a bonus all round. Ah… no never fear I’m not posting a part two from this garden except for a long border update in August. I am hoping to visit a few other gardens over the summer and post on them both for those who will never see them and for those who have them on their doorstep in the hope they too will visit.

    I have another quite different formal garden visit in mind and plan to take my parents to that one as they have never been. I’ve also one more special in mind that is opening this year which is quite a contrast to the formals!

    Oh… thanks so much for faving my blog on Blotanical, I have being enjoying spending time there recently 😀

  12. Hi Shirl…..love the video, what a joy to see the swallows being fed. I found it fascinating to watch their behaviour patterns, while waiting for the parents to return with food. Swallows feed over my garden most sunny days but I have never seen them feeding their young. Fabulous.

    That long border is beautiful and something I can only dream of. So much work involved ….. but such a striking addiiton to large grounds.

    I never realised squirrels ate strawberries, you learn something everyday.

    Great post….interesting, informative and lively……

  13. Thank you for the tour. I am really considering scotland for my hols next year so will include this

  14. What a great account of your visit!!

    I LOVE long borders and these look fab!

    Ryan ( ryans-garden.blogspot.com/)

  15. Tsk, tsk, Shirl, what were you thinking of when you didn't bring your film camera on your first visit? ;-D

    It seems like squirrels do like fruit. A lot!

    Such a lovely garden, I didn't visit this one on my Scottish tour so thanks for showing it here on your blog!

    Great vid and how nice to see so many swallows there.

  16. Hi again Cheryl, Helen, Ryan and Yolanda 🙂

    Cheryl – so glad you popped by to see it… I had a feeling you would enjoy it! It really was fascinating to watch. Yep… I haven’t the space or suitable location for a long border but I do admire the work that goes into them. Oh yes… the strawberry thief was a surprise. I knew it had dropped something along the path and it wasn’t until I wandered along did I see the strawb half eaten. Thank-you… so glad you enjoyed it 😀

    Helen – You are most welcome! Ah… well now I’ll have to post you a few garden previews. Thinking cap on now… perhaps you’ve a list already 😉

    Ryan – Thank-you, so glad you enjoyed it! Oh yes… if you are a long border fan they definitely didn’t disappoint 😀

    Yolanda – Oh I know… I know… I had dropped my daughter off nearby and it was just to be a quick visit… didn’t consider filming at all. Yep… the squirrels were rather spooky rustling in the climbers… I wonder if they had a fruit salad in there 😉 Thanks… thrilled with the video capture although do wish the sun hadn’t been so strong… I guess I was lucky it wasn’t raining 😀

  17. Hi Shirley
    wasn't able to read your blog on Sat as I hoped but have just read it now and loved it! Can't believe such a beautiful place has been on my doorstep and I've never seen it – thankyou for making me aware of it in such a wonderful way! Well done to you for capturing it so beautifully. Nx

  18. What a treat for me!This is the type of gardens that I like. And these buildings and structures…. Wonderful! Thank you so much!

  19. It was fascinating to see these swallows. Ours make the same sound as yours but look a bit different. They're Welcome Swallows, Hirundo neoxena.
    I loved the garden as well, of course, particularly the herbaceous border. I got an impression of vast flat space all around the garden, too — don't know if that's right.

  20. Hi again N & Chookie and hello Tatyana 🙂

    N – delighted to see you visit again… whenever you have time! I’m absolutely thrilled that I’ve introduced this garden to a local who has never seen it. Thank-you… there was plenty to capture on this visit. Wishing you a wonderful first visit 😀

    Tatyana – Welcome, I am once again thrilled that is a garden that you’d enjoy too! You are most welcome… it has been a pleasure sharing this visit 😀

    Chookie – Fantastic name… thanks, I had never heard that. This blog began through posting video footage and photos of the robin for my homesick Scottish friend now living in Australia so I will now think of her (and you) with your Welcome swallows every time I see one here now. Today I saw many more at a quite different location 🙂 Yes, the wall and the borders are impressive and yes, there is a fair amount of space around but it isn’t too vast… everything is in proportion. Nice to have you visit again 😀

  21. When they say long borders they do mean long borders! I loved seeing the closeup of the support systems for getting the plants to stand proud and tall! Wonderful shots of the birds…I know you must be really pleased! gail

  22. What a lovely garden tour you have given us Shirl, and although I love the pictures of the swallows – which are really good, I am enchanted by the kitchen garden, although not surprised by the squirrels eating the fruit.

  23. Hello again Shirley,
    This was a beautiful garden tour – thank you – and I loved the film of the swallows. We see them every summer over farmland in Devon – but of course the young birds are fledged by early August, so it was lovely to view your observation of them being fed. So quick, well done for spotting and filming it!
    I just think about someone mowing all those acres of lawn – but the flower beds were lovely, weren't they. I'm sure the vistas across all that grass are worth it when you're there…

  24. Hi again Gail, Karen and Scattered 😀

    Gail – They certainly do! Delighted you liked that close-up… I hoped it would be noticed. I loved seeing the plants being cared for. Thank-you… yes I was well chuffed with the bird shots… especially the video 😀

    Karen – Thank-you! Yes, I have to say I agree with you… the kitchen garden really was enchanting… although the birds were still my favs. I had no idea the squirrels would eat the fruit 😮

    Scattered – Hello again, I am delighted you enjoyed the tour and the swallows. Yes, I have seen them around farmland on occasions too. Yes, I really was just in the right place for this… I really didn’t expect to see the young being fed at all far less to see so many. I saw more at a Deer Park visit a couple of days ago with my daughter. I recognised the noise so I actually heard them first! LOL… the lawns weren’t too vast and the areas were broken up with large trees and an orchard. Yes… without the expanses of lawn the garden wouldn’t have the same impact 🙂

  25. There are so many of your posts I missed during my blog absence. Among the first to catch up, I chose this Garen visit. I felt, as if I had been there too. Thank you for touring us around. BEsides, this staking method I also saw in several Scottish gardens, two years ago. And I even bought a sort of green garden net (with big holes) in one of the garden centers there, in order to stake my plants too. But as some birds have been caught there, I stopped putting it this year. Looking forward to visit another garden with you!

  26. Would you please be able to help me?
    I was looking through Google, attempting to identify a plant which I found near my Sixth Form Centre, which is being used in the Ecology unit of my A-Level Applied Science course.
    The flower in question is the one pictured in the top left of the 'Garden Bloom Day July 2009' picture.
    The proper/ everyday name for it will do, as the coursework does not require latinate names.
    Thank you very Much
    David W

  27. Hi David, can you please tell me which photo/montage you are asking about? If it is in the first montage, the yellow daisy looking flower is from Ligularia x palmatiloba which is a perennial plant. Hope this helps.

    Good luck with your coursework 🙂

  28. Thanks Shirl!
    This information will be very valuable to me.
    I have already tried a plant ID thing on the net and, after trying to describe it as best as possible, one of it's suggestions was a waterlily – how that came out I will never know 😛
    Oh and all of those photos are brilliant – looks like a lovely garden.
    Thanks Again Shirl
    David 🙂

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