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Sir Walter Scott’s imagination and creativity extended beyond the walls of his house into the outdoors and the creation of beautiful formal Regency gardens.
The garden at Abbotsford is distinct in character; taken together, the layout forms three outdoor ‘rooms’ designed to offer picturesque settings for the main house. The gardens we see today are still fundamentally Scott’s work, though with certain alterations carried out by his descendants to adapt the space for the changing needs of the family.
The garden is compact, fragrant, colourful and detailed. It is contained within high walls, with the facades of the house setting a scene which could be straight out of one of Scott’s historical romances. You can look up to Scott’s ‘Juliette’ balcony sited at his bedroom window, see across to a ‘Rapunzel’ tower which overlooks the river, and explore the gothic staircase leading to the meadow beyond. Find Scott’s greenhouse based on a medieval jousting tent, and spot the heritage vegetables and fruit growing in the kitchen garden. Sit back and enjoy the heady scents of the herbaceous borders, or take a stroll to the river.
The garden was designed by Sir Walter Scott with advice from artists, architects and friends. It is a rare surviving example of a Regency garden layout – and completely different from the English Landscape Garden which ‘Capability’ Brown made his own in the previous decades. Abbotsford’s garden aims to provide a harmonious transition between the luxury and comfort of the interiors of the house with wonders of nature in the wider estate through a series of secluded, richly detailed and sheltered ‘rooms’. It would have showcased the latest plants discovered from around the globe, both in its borders and ‘stove houses’, and was tended by William Bogie, a Frenchman trained by one of the most celebrated gardeners of the day.
The South Court is the first of the three outdoor ‘rooms’ that Sir Walter Scott designed as picturesque settings for his house at Abbotsford.
The sunken garden to the east of the house – known in Scott’s day as the East Court – is the second of the three interlinking outdoor ‘rooms’ at Abbotsford.