Skirling House - Wildlife & gardens


The Glenholm Wildlife Project near Broughton, 5 miles from Skirling, offers visitors the chance to watch birds on the pond at close quarters from the specially-constructed hides, or to explore the new woodland – younger visitors are encouraged to try to find the models of small animals hidden in the trees.  There are several mapped walks of differing difficulty suitable for tackling with dogs or on your own, and a coffee shop with tasty home-baking.


Dawyck Botanic Gardens on the road to Peebles is a world-renowned arboretum open between February and November. In spring visitors can see a fine display of snowdrops and daffodils, and in early summer azaleas, rhododendrons and pools of meconopsis. In autumn the foliage bursts into vivid hues of red, orange and gold and provides a sensational colour adventure.  There is a modern glass fronted visitor centre with a well-stocked shop and a cafeteria with home baking and homemade soups at lunchtime.

Kailzie Gardens, situated 2.5 miles from Peebles town centre on the B7062, is open 7 days a week throughout the year.  In their seasons, including the display of snowdrops , daffodils and sheets of bluebells , the gardens provide a rich variety of colour and charm for both the keen gardener, and for the visitor simply wanting to enjoy a beautiful garden in peaceful surroundings.

Set in the Pentland Hills near Edinburgh, Little Sparta is Ian Hamilton Finlay’s greatest work of art. It is a place for contemplation, intellectual receptiveness and enjoyment. The garden as a whole discloses to the viewer who walks around it, many complexities of meaning, sentiment and wit. It is also a fragile place, easily damaged by the northern climate and constantly requiring careful conservation.
Imbued with high idea content, the garden is created from the artistic fusion of poetic and sculptural elements with those of the natural landscape, which is shaped and changed to become an inherent part of the concepts realised at Little Sparta.

While works of art are commonly viewed in galleries, public parks and streets, museums and private houses, it is perhaps a unique achievement to have created a garden which is itself a major artwork encompassing within it both horticultural elements and individual works in such materials as stone, wood and metal.
Finlay’s intentions were  moral and philosophical as well as poetic. The themes dealt with in the garden are those which underlie the structures of society. The French Revolution, pre-Socratic views of the nature of the world, the Second World War, the sea and its fishing fleets are among the sources of metaphor and image which are realised in the garden’s over 275 art works.

Scotland’s Gardens Scheme, there are several gardens locally such as Biggar Park which can be viewed by appointment. The scheme raises funds for worthy charities by facilitating the opening of large and small gardens of horticultural interest throughout Scotland to the public. The gardens that open for the scheme include Scotland's finest, are mostly privately owned and are normally inaccessible to the public at other times. Visit the Scotland's Gardens Scheme website for details.