Scented Garden

Nursery and Gardens

The nursery and gardens are situated on a series of terraces wrapped around the cafe of Whitmuir Farm. It has open views towards the Pentlands, desite being northwest facing it gets sun most of the day in summer and less in winter as the sun sinks lower in the sky behind the hills behind and is sheltered from the worst of the winds by a windbreak of trees to the west and south.

The gardens are made up of the lower and middle terraces and their bankings. The bankings are awash with wild flowers through the year and we are develop ing the gardens in between with lots of interesting and tough perennials and grasses to give continuity of colour, interest, texture and movement through out the year. I have a lot of plans and ideas which will compliment the existing plantings and our design and plant interests too. Of course these plants also have to be tough enough to cope with conditions here which means they should grow with you too. Hardy and interesting plants for Scottish gardens, a local nursery for local gardeners.

Because the terraces are very linear, varying in width but pretty narrow, its makes for an interesting area to design gardens. The terraces curve to create an amphitheatre style area around the cafe building which means that as you walk along the terraces we have used the curve to hide what is "around the corner" to create an element of surprise and interest for our visitors. The narrowness of the terraces means we don't have massive space to create swathes of gardens but it's also a great way to think creatively about space and how to use it best and create the feeling of more garden rather than less. Meandering paths means the borders vary in size and using the widest parts to create an area you can't see around immediately makes it more interesting and feel like a bigger garden than it actually is.

On either side of the track to the nursery two narrow beds include plants for dry shade and plants that will cope with our exposed site and clay soil.  Over the past few years I have replanted and added in new plants to these areas. The stream garden as you enter the nursery was the first garden to be created, giving an interesting and enticing entrance to the nursery. We have also taken over a large flat area to the North of the nursery which was grass and fruit trees. We have used part of this to extend the stock beds  where customers can shop directly and can see the range of plants we have available.

The sales area occupies  the first part of the top terrace where we have filled it with our made to measure, recycled from pallets sales tables. These hold flowering, seasonal and interesting plants, herbs, fruit, shrubs and trees, native plants and alpines. The small shade tunnel houses plants for shade lovers (and shade loving plants too!) and David has created a water feature which incorporates the tubs for the aquatic plants for sale. This adds another dimension to the sales area with a fountain and bench where you can relax, enjoy the views and the sound of running water.

In 2017 we developed the first half of  the middle terrace by creating a big scented border that leads into a formal herb garden. The herb garden is made up of small beds and gravel paths leading you through culinary, medicinal and household herbs to a seating area at the end. I’m looking forward to growing and using herbs again, something I haven’t done in a long time. The scented garden is accessed on a slab path winding it’s way up through vibrant plantings of scented shrubs, perennials, grasses and annuals. There is a seating area where you can enjoy the buzz of the bees and the heady scent of sweetpeas when they are in flower.

In 2017 David and I were married in the herb garden (no pressure to get it ready then!) All our friends and relatives loved the outdoor wedding, the setting and the quirkyness of it.

In 2019 we extended the stream garden, adding another twenty feet  of borders on either side of the stream. I planted these up with big chunky perennials that will cope with the very poor soil  in those areas and create big blocks of plants. We also finished off the wildlife garden in 2019, first started back in  2016 when David put in the bottle edging, we just never got back to it. Now as you walk along the path you pass a border for bee plants, one for butterflies, another for birds and bats and a wildlife pond. Information boards have info and plant lists for each border. Within 2 weeks of building the pond we had frogs in it. The wildlife garden takes you to the cornucopia garden through an arch built from recycled ladders. This garden has all year round interest using shrubs, trees, perennials and bulbs.

We also have a garden railway on the middle terrace. Built by David and my youngest son Daniel. This 16mm narrow guage railway runs once a month on a Sunday afternoon, in the summer. The timetable is on the events page when we are open. In 2020 during lockdown David couldn’t work so he came in and dug over the two borders around the railway and on the other side of the grass path. These are planted up with lots of new plants to provide year round interest. The design leans towards a prairie theme with lots of late summer perennials and grasses. In 2020 I also removed all the black currents behind the stock beds and have planted up a series of  mini borders in this long border.

In 2021 we developed the winter garden on the bottom terrace.  This garden has a wide path leading through a laburnum arch with wide borders on either side. Shrubs and trees with interesting bark or evergreen leaves form a famework underplanted with winter flowering and evergreen perennials and spring bulbs.

2022 saw the creation of the topiary garden which finished off the bottom terrace of the gardens. In time this will be filled with pruned box and Ilex crenata, forming clouds of greenery. Other evergreens and interesting trees have been planted to create interest all year round.

Our new garden for 2023 was the Woodland garden. This large area became part of the nursery when we put up our boundary fence 4 years ago. We always had plans to create a garden in this area but until we knew what our longterm furture at Whitmuir was we had to put it on hold. Now we have cleared out the scrubby willow trees and found and tidied up Birch, hazel, rowan and apple trees which are growing to create a mid story canopy under the mature bech trees. Isabe planted up the borders in spring and you can follow the path across the stream using the bridges we will build and explore the natural woodland side before returning via another bridge through the cultivated woodland garden. I am so excited to see this garden open at last.

Keep visiting the nursery and gardens to see our progress and new ideas.

The sales area bursting with summer colour

Entrance to Quercus

Bulbs and violas for spring

The pond in the wildlife garden

Late summer - autumn border

Sales area

Asters and Persicarias in the gardens

Colour in the new trays

The vertical Planter seating area

Sweetpeas from the scented garden

All contents  and photographs ©  Rona Dodds, unauthorised reproduction & use of these images is strictly forbidden

Perennial stock beds

Exotics display

Geums, Achilleas and Nepeta make a good combination

Plant lists for small borders in the nursery

Perennal border in the stock beds

The Herb Garden

The Scented Garden

The Herb Garden

Plant lists for the Herb garden

Borders in the stock beds

The Scottish Native Garden

Plant lists for the Wildlife garden

Plant lists for the Scented garden

Salvias, vintage and recycling

Ragged Robin growing on the terraces

Leucanthemum and Aquelegia

The stream garden

The Railway Garden

mmer colour

The Railway Garden

mmer colour

Cornucopia Garden

The Orchard

Plant lists for the Railway garden

Plant lists for the Long Border

Alpines in the sales area

Perennials in the sales area

Silent Space in the Nursery Garden

You will be able to find our silent space in the orchard at the end of the nursery stockbeds where there is a sign inviting you to enjoy some silent space. This area is enclosed by a Thuya hedge, a mixed native hedge and a fence clothed in climbers. The fourth side is open with views across the nursery gardens and the Pentland Hills beyond. Here on the end of the terrace you can sit on the bench, enjoy the views, the sound of the birds, insects and the quiet of the country. You access our silent space by walking through the orchard, with fruit trees, spring bulbs and shrubs providing interest and colour all year, finally arriving at the bench.

The nursery and gardens are on an organic farm and we work as organically as possible. A large part of the nursery gardens are dedicated to wildlife and biodiversity. We have a wildflower meadow and banks which are full of wildflowers and grasses and are home to many many insects, bugs and beasties. The gardens and nursery literally buzz with wildlife.

Our silent space is open when the nursery is open, Wednesday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm, March to October.

You can find more info and other gardens taking part on the Silent Space website: Silent Space

Plant lists for the Stream garden

Plant lists for the Winter garden

Plant lists for the Large Entrance Border

Winter garden

The Pink border

Topiary garden

The Wodland garden

Plant lists for the Woodland garden