Something in the air
Country Life UK|August 12, 2020
Something in the air
The Gardens of Monteviot, Jedburgh James Truscott is entranced by a series of new gardens that successfully captures the magic of growing up in a place rich in history and legend
James Truscott

THE River Teviot winds through a lush, green, wooded valley and then between rolling hills near Jedburgh in the Borders before lapping at a stone landing stage at the foot of a broad manicured lawn. This place is the River Garden, designed in 1960 by Percy Cane at Monteviot—or Mount Teviot, as it was originally known—the home of the Marquis and Marchioness of Lothian.

In the Rose Garden below the house, beds of pink and white David Austin roses spill over box edging beneath the buttressed wall that supports the main terrace. Standing here, it is difficult to believe that this quiet pastoral scene belies a violent past of advancing Roman armies fording the river below and of Border Reivers galloping across the valley to defend their homes against the constant threat of English attack.

Lord Lothian, who grew up here, says there has always been magic in the air

Initially a farmhouse, Monteviot was bought by Lord Lothian’s family in about 1700 and was extended over the following two centuries. The gardens were initially developed in Victorian times by the 9th Marquis, who, foreshadowing the current Marquis, had a political career. He served as Secretary of State for Scotland, 1887–92, but was also a keen orchid collector, indeed, the biggest private collector in Britain at the time.

The gardens as we see them today, however, have only been developed since 1960, when the present Lord Lothian’s parents engaged Cane, a renowned garden designer, to implement the River Garden. Set next to the Rose Garden terrace (which, together with the Herb Garden beside the house, is the oldest part), the River Garden takes the form of a high brick wall, U-shaped in plan, which supports a viewing turret from where one can enjoy the riverside panorama. Extensive mixed borders benefit from the shelter of the walls and one of Lord Lothian’s first tasks was to soften the strictness of these beds.

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August 12, 2020