When the Sir James Campbell of Ardkinglas Estate in Argyll married the daughter of the Earl of Mar in 1750 it brought a flurry of activity to Gargunnock Estate.
It included additions to Gargunnock House itself, the building of the stables and outbuildings to the rear of the house, the Walled Garden and later the Doocot.
The Walled Garden was completed soon after. We have no records but believe it was built to replicate the existing walled garden at Ardkinglas Estate. The walls inside are around 14ft high and nearer 15ft on the outside. This difference is most likely due to the regular addition of compost and manure spread annually by the gardeners. Internally the east, south and west walls are faced with brick and the external walls with local stone, the cavity is infilled with rubble and the whole construction bound together with lime mortar. The wall is topped with copping stones each about 3ft long.
The Walled Garden faces directly south and the three acres of ground slope gently north which at times can create a frost pocket. It is situated on flat ground just above the marsh lands which were drained after the 1745 Jacobite rebellion to create the Carse of Stirling as we know it today.
On the south side of the Walled Garden, the Head Gardener’s Cottage is attached, this is where the main glasshouses were also sited and further along what looks like the under gardener’s bothy, again built into the wall.
The Walled Garden at this time would have been mainly used for fruit production and we do have pictures taken before the First World War with the classical use of herbaceous borders, rose arbours and good gravel paths.
Tree planting of the managed landscape must have been implemented about this time with mature yew and sycamore around the Walled Garden. The planting of the west coast America conifers was most likely done by the Stirling family around 1865 when many of these trees were introduced to Scotland by David Douglas.
The Stirling family had connections with the Navy so they may have had access to seed being brought back at that time. They certainly could have propagated the seeds here on the estate.
The trees on either side of the drive up to Gargunnock House would also have been planted up at this time. But it was in the 1950s that the late Viola Stirling planted the collection of acers and hybrid rhododendrons which enhance the splendour of the long drive up to the house.
The House Garden which lies just to the west of the house was initially planted at about the same time as the drive as we can see from the three species of majestic trees planted in it – Purple Beech, Atlantic Cedar and the Giant Redwood. Towards the back of the house we have a wonderful specimen of a cut-leaf beech, surely one of the best in Scotland. Miss Stirling would have done a lot of planting in the House Garden in the 1950s, as we can see from the many mature trees and shrubs.
The Trustees and Gardens team today continue to plant new rhododendrons, magnolias and trees to leave a continuing legacy for future generations to enjoy.