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Early Scottish Gardens

A Writer's Odyssey

Sheila Mackay

Paperback (Printed to Order)

What did early Scottish gardens look like? How did these gardens relate to the house and how did passing time affect their development? Where did the plant stock come from: herbs, shrubs, annuals and perennials, from the thistle to the rose? Did the gardens match the richly embellished interiors of Scots aristocrats and merchants, particularly after the Reformation? Evocative and tantalising remains of 'missing gardens' such as earthworks, stone walls, doocots, date stones, terracing, traceries of paths, sundials, a few ancient yews, and gardens themselves - Culross, Edzell, Pitmedden, Kinross -fire the imagination as Sheila Mackay guides the reader on a personal tour of the 16th, 17th and 18th-century gardens of Scotland.

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Map to show location of gardens
1. Arthur's Seat and the Royal Park
2. Hidden gardens
3. The Pleasaunce at Edzell, Forfarshire
4. Royal Gardens in the Landscape
5. 'Gentimenis Places and Gret Palices'
6. 'A Delictible Time of Peax'
7. Gardens for Delight's Sake
8. 'Paradisi in Sole'
9. 'Furur Hortensis'
10. 'Improvement'

About the Author

Sheila Mackay is a freelance writer and author of The Forth Bridge: A Picture History (HMSO, 1993), Behind the Façade: Four Centuries of Scottish Interiors (HMSO, 1996), Lindisfarne Landscapes (St Andrews Press, 1996) and Mountain Music: Mallorca (Sancho Press, 1997). She is also a journalist and has written a series of articles on Scottish gardens for the Herald.


An absorbing study of a long-forgotten golden age of gardening. Exhaustive research over four years went into the preparation of this stimulating work, packed with facts and bristling with ideas that challenge long-held assumptions. The lyrical, lucid text takes the reader on a wonderfully vivid journey … Early Scottish Gardens is not a conventional history, but something richer and more imaginative, a hybrid genre combining scholarship with elements of a travelogue and a personal journey.
Early Scottish Gardens fascinatingly describes [Sheila Mackay's] travels the length and breadth of Scotland in search of the origins and development of many notable gardens between 1500 and 1750 … The well-illustrated Early Scottish Gardens is a cornucopia of information about early gardens in Scotland and their owners … in the plethora of gardening books published each year Early Scottish Gardens is one which makes not only a very enjoyable read to learn just how many fine gardens there were from the seventeenth century but also promts visits to those gardens still existing … very full value at a very reasonable price.