John Russel was the second son of James Russel, solicitor, of the Falkirk legal firm of Russel and Aitken. From 1832 he lived with the family at Arnotdale and became a partner in the firm. By the 1850s he was ready to set up his own home and through the firm’s contacts was able to acquire around six acres of farmland on the east side of Maggie Woods Loan to the south of Arnothill Lane from Forbes of Callendar. The site was on the west side of Falkirk, about a quarter of a mile from his parental home. The land started at the crest of the west/east ridge where it was bounded on the north by the vestiges of the ditch of the Roman frontier known as the Antonine Wall. A narrow hedge-lined path led along this ridge and was a very popular Sunday walk for the inhabitants of the town. Here there was a small plateau suitable for a house with panoramic views in all directions. The ground then sloped rapidly down to the south into the flat-bottomed valley of the West Burn. This was a minor stream with its rise just a few hundred metres to the west in North Bantaskine estate. North Bantaskine was bounded on the east by a tall stone perimeter wall that ran alongside Maggie Wood’s Loan. To the east lay the estate of Gartcows. The grounds of Mayfield took in part of the south bank of the stream to give a good flat open area where Russel intended to place a walled garden and a fish pond. Arnotdale had a well-established arboretum and Russel evidently inherited his father’s enthusiasm for the exotic trees species then becoming more readily available. In 1855 work began on laying out the grounds and constructing the house. Initially three acres were retained in crop and in 1857 potatoes were planted in preparation for introducing a formal garden. James Love noted that Russel “in a few years’ time and at considerable expense succeeded in transforming another “waif of nature” into a pretty and inviting retreat.” It was not all plain sailing and in 1856 a severe storm, described as a hurricane, blew down many of the trees and damaged the exotic plants.
The house was substantial (SMR 574; NS 8796 7995). It was designed in the Italianate style then much in favour and consists of a large square two-storey block with a projecting tower and arcaded loggia facing the main drive to the west and an articulated façade overlooking the terraces to the south. The articulation includes a ground floor chamfered bay window (west) and an advanced bay (east) having a square bay window on the ground floor surmounted by a narrower framed window capped with a segmental keystoned pediment at the wallhead. These features are all unified by prominent moulded string and eaves courses, as well as the use of stugged coursers and quoin angles. The porch is placed in the bottom of the tower and is entered via the loggia and has a cavetto-splayed doorpiece. The slim three-storey staged tower resembles the Steeple in Falkirk with an arched traceried window at the lowest level, a plain bordered rectangular window with bracketed sill on the first floor and three slit windows in each of the four sides in the observation room to resemble a belfry. It is capped by a low pyramidal roof with wide eaves. A blank roundel decorates the first floor on the north and south sides.
The east side overlooked a private lawn and here the façade is plainer, with large windows and a door opening onto a raised paved terrace. The plinth course is particularly fine with a round moulding that rises around the circular cast iron vents. To the north are single storey service wings with corbelled dormer windows having keystoned arches providing a fine counterbalance to the main block. These three facades are of hard polished ashlar grey sandstone, whereas those on the north side are of a poorer quality snecked rubble.
The architect employed was Andrew Heiton, junior, from Perth. His father already had an established practice and together they received many commissions for large suburban villas in Perth and Dundee. A little later, in 1860-2, Heiton designed Glencarron in Denny.
|Architect||Andrew Heiton, Perth||£111.0.0|
|Builder & Mason work (including terrace stair)||Thorburn, Polmont||£830.11.6|
|Wright – Joiner work||John Forgie, Falkirk||£730.17.11|
|Slater||James Fleming, Falkirk||£58.0.0|
|Glazier||James Bruce, Perth||£50.00|
|Carriage, railway dues from quarry||£40.8.2|
|Plasterer||John Macdonald, Kirkintilloch||£125.14.6|
|Vent linings||Grangemouth Coal Co||£26.1.4|
|Marbles (fire surrounds)||David Ness & Co, Edinburgh||£47.0.0|
Stone from Falkirk Quarry was used for the foundations and rubble walls, but the better quality stonework was stone from the Maddiston Quarry belonging to Mr Learmonth McKenzie and came by way of Grahamston Station. Half of the paving stones were of Arbroath stone and half Denny flags. The two seats in the portico were of Arbroath stone with moulded edges.
The decorated staircase window had cost £7, but the painted glass for the hall door and fanlight was £24 on its own. The latter were provided by R.B. Watson of Dunfermline and when Russel questioned the cost his architect told him that compared to Ballantine’s of Edinburgh he had a bargain! Almost the last part of the building work was the erection of the substantial gate pillars on Maggie Wood’s Loan by Thorburn at a cost of £28.10s. The gates, from Perry & Son added another £19.18.6. The overall cost of the building project, without furnishings, came to £2,398.17.7.
A visitor in 1860 described the interior:
“After passing the elegant and lofty portico, we reach the outer lobby, where stands in the shape of a hat and cloak stand, a memorial of Mr Russel’s deer stalking achievements. This convenience is quite unique of its kind. The noble antlers forming pegs on which to hang hats, cloaks, & c. St Anslam is said to have hung his cloak on a sunbeam, but – there might be no stags’ horns in Rome. The lobby is lighted by a beautiful stained glass window, the work of Mr Watson, Dunfermline, and the walls are painted in marble of various colours by our clever townsman Mr Bell, of Messrs Ferguson and Bell. A glass door separates this from the inner lobby, which is wide and lofty. Here again Mr Bell has succeeded in imitating the real to perfection, and the visitor is absolutely compelled whether he is not within “marble walls.” In the principal drawing room we have other specimens of what Mr Russel, to his credit, be it said, calls “native art.” The cornices are rich and beautiful; the furniture – the work of Mr M Middlehurst – is chaste and elegant, and there are several valuable paintings by popular and well-known artists. The staircase leading to the higher apartments is lighted by another stained window, by Mr Watson, of a pretty design. On reaching the tower, one of the finest prospects is obtained; but as we have already considerably exceeded our space, we will not attempt to describe it further than to state that it is not excelled for its beauty and variety.”
The paintings mentioned. Along with later acquisitions were listed in 1882 when they were valued:
|Forest scene” by B.J. Kock Lock, 1854||£200. -.-|
|“Flower Piece” by Van Heysum||£10.10.-|
|“A View in Wales” by H. Bight 1847||£50.-.-|
|“Girl with Dog” by Neteher||£20.-.-|
|“Boy & Ten Girls” by ditto||£20.-.-|
|“Highland Scene & Cottage” by Morland||£20.-.-|
|“Dutch Cottage Scene”||£10.10.-|
|“Smailholm Tower” by H, McCulloch||£100.-.-|
|“Loch Achray” by Heath||£50.-.-|
|“View on the Thames” by Crawford||£10.10.-|
|“View in Rome” by Canaletto||£10.10.-|
|“View in Venice” by Canaletto||£20.-.-|
|“Girl with Rosebud” by John J.E. Lauder||£20.-.-|
|Landscape – H Bright||£25.-.-|
|Landscape over door||}|
|4 ditto next mantelpiece||} £15.15.-|
|Lake scene over press||}|
|Dutch Canal scene and shipping||£4.-.-|
|Landscape with sheep||£1.-.-|
|Child with dog||£2.2.-|
|Group of 3 figures||£15.-.-|
The full range of rooms were given as the dining room, parlour, drawing room, small green bedroom, south-east bedroom, blue bedroom, south-west bedroom, dressing room, Maple bedroom, upper landing, staircase, entrance hall & lobby, kitchen, servant’s bedroom.
At first Russel employed Thomas Sorely of Falkirk as a contractor to prepare the grounds, but before long he was used regularly to bring in mature trees and then to tend to the garden itself. Established trees were obtained locally, including from the graveyard at Airth, which meant demolishing part of its boundary wall and then rebuilding it.
Gardens at this time helped to supply food for the house and one of the first structures was a pig house. Russel soon developed his kitchen garden and before long he was exhibiting vegetables at horticultural shows. In September 1855, for example, he sent vegetable marrows and large turnips to the Falkirk show. In September 1859 it was a fine collection of Dahlias from his greenhouses. By 1862 he had graduated to his real obsession of exotic plants. That year they included retinispora pisifera and obtura, coleus verchaffeltie – the greenhouses and hot-houses to the east of the pond had been completed. To cap it all John Russel became the president of the Falkirk Horticultural Society.
In 1862 the amoeba-like pond is shown on the Ordnance Survey map south of the West Burn with a connecting channel. The 1896 edition shows it with an island which presumably housed the water fountain which was installed in 1864. That same year the pond was laid with “metal” so that the water would at all times be perfectly clear. A large glass house was also erected for a winter garden and in 1865 it was populated by tree-ferns and oriental plants.
The arrival of new plants and their condition became newsworthy and they were reported in the Falkirk Herald. In October 1864, for example, there was a magnificent new lily from Japan (lilium auratum) in full bloom, in the greenhouse at Mayfield. This splendid plant had only been introduced into Scotland by Mr J.G. Veitch in the autumn of 1861. Bailie Russel had another nine specimens of this lily in his possession. “We may add that the other most rare and interesting plants in Bailie Russel’s valuable and extensive collection are making admirable progress, and promise to render the grounds and hothouses of Mayfield the finest for their size in the kingdom – a distinction which, in fact, they have already attained.”
The garden and grounds were sufficiently well advanced in 1863 for the annual show of the Falkirk Horticultural Society to be held there. They were a hit and the visitors, who paid a modest entrance fee, marveled at the achievements. Combining the vegetable, flower, fruit and exotic plant competitions with a visit to the enchanting gardens was a winning combination. They were held there every September thereafter until 1877 when they had to be switched to the Corn Exchange at the last moment due to John Russel’s failing health. Each year there was something new and curious, as well as a unique display of bedding plants. In 1864 a huge glass house was erected for use as a winter garden and that year it was used to stage the exhibitions and judging. By the following year it was filled with plants and tents were erected nearby for the show. The Camelon Band played throughout the day and was present for most of the occasions.
The main entrance to the estate was off Maggie Woods Loan near the top of the hill. On entering the grounds the visitor’s attention was drawn to the house and the upper terrace. In front of the house was a finely cut lawn dotted with a number of conifers and other ornamental trees garnered from across the globe – “from the eternal snows of the North Pole and south through the tropics as far as the swamps of Patagonia and the finely wooded plains of the Australasian Isles. The continents of Asia and America had alike been laid under contribution to make the scene more brilliant and varied, and rare plants were seen on every hand, from the exclusive territories of Japan as well as the gold shores of California.” In front of the house, on the south side, was an array of potted plants, flanked by two 9-pounder carronades with carriages in the gardens valued, in 1882, at £3. Beyond the house, large flower beds were arranged each year in intricate geometrical patterns using a different range of tonal colours on each occasion.
Along the top of the slope was a terrace ribbon-border, composed chiefly of small lightish-coloured plants, relieved at frequent intervals by larger and luxuriantly growing plants, and backed with variegated and green hollies and yews. At the bottom of the slope the initial vegetable garden was replaced by more shrubs and a wide grass walk, edged with a broad border on each side, laid out in the choicest style of ribbon gardening, and backed with alternate green and variegated yews.
The main path to the lower terraces was along the east side of the premises and here lines of green and golden yews and golden hollies provided a backcloth for extensive floral borders. Near the bottom of the path were two greenhouses, one containing the Mexican Orchidaceous plants and the other the Indian department. Next to them was the winter garden – a huge wide-spanned greenhouse, 80ft in length, containing tree ferns, palms, dracaeuas, cordylines, maratas, variegated aloes, and other rare and choice foliage plants. These were artistically arranged to form three noble avenues with picturesque terminations; the central vista being peculiarly grand. This little complex also held an aviary of ornamental birds, with adjoining houses and yards occupied with specimens of various kinds of domestic poultry. Provost Russel also became the president of the Falkirk Poultry Association. As well as sending a number of birds for competition, he exhibited pheasants bred at Mayfield.
Beyond these was the fish-pond containing trout and with ducks having domain. A variety of fountain jets shot up from an artificial island. Further along was an extensive rose garden. The return path along the west side of the slope led to a stove, orchid house and vinery near the summit.
All of this kept Thomas Sorley, the head gardener, and his team occupied.
Illus 5: Carronade on the Upper Terrace at Mayfield (Falkirk Herald).
The kitchen garden occupied a prime location and John Russel had other uses for that area and had it grassed over so that the tents could be erected for the horticultural shows, and children could play games when their charities were invited in for the day. To replace the food-producing area he arranged for an excambion of land with Forbes of Callendar. Russel received 2.053 acres of land to the south and east of his estate in exchange for small parcels of land at East Burn Bridge, at Boddom (Lady’s Mill) and at Randygate on 2 March 1867.
As Russel’s household grew so too did his house. Extensions and upper floors were added to the north for the servants and he commissioned Andrew Heiton to draw up plans for a nursery and additional bedroom accommodation. Sadly, Russel’s children died whilst still young and these were never built. Instead of paying Heiton for his work, Russel gave him a new project to design “a picture gallery like Mr Wilson’s of Banknock, with a Billiard Room under the same.” It did not come to fruition either. Minor architectural works were undertaken by TB McFadzen who had built several of the large villas at the east end of Arnothill. The included the installation of a lightning conductor for the tower, sluices and pipes for the pond, balustrades for the upper terrace, and additional designs for ground on the east that it had been proposed to acquire from Ralph Stark.
As he grew older, Russel realised that he could not maintain his garden to the high standards attained and in 1875 he sold off part of his collection, the nature of which can be gauged by the following extract:
“Mr Stevens, of London, recently sold the valuable collection of Orchids formed during the last twelve years by John Russel, Esq. Of Mayfield, Falkirk, and the following gives an indication of some of the prices realized:- Oncidium Splendidum, eight old bulbs and two young growths, 630s; Saccolabium Russellianum, fourteen leaves, 588s; another plant of the same, 567s; Angroecum Sequipedale, twenty-six leaves, 504s; Saccolabium Guttatum, “2 to 3 feet high and wide, twenty-two strong leaves, two strong young plants at bottom, with ten and eleven leaves respectively – ten spikes this year,” 1305s; Aerides Margaritaceum, 32 inches high, 525s; Vanda Tricolor Russeliana, 6 foot high, with forty leaves and two strong plants at bottom, with twenty-two leaves each; the whole stock of the plant, 546s; Aerides Veitchii, over 2 feet across and 18 to 20 feet high, 725s; Cattleya Russellians, about thirty strong bulbs, and five strong leading growths, 882s; Cattleya Labiata Warneri, spring flowering variety, fifteen bulbs, 609s; Cattleya Dowians, eighteen bulbs, five leading growths, 450s; Colas Jugosus, “finest plant in the country,” 294s; Coelogyne Cinuamomea, 3 feet across, 460s. Total amount realized, £2211 14s.”[Abridged from the Gardener’s Chronicle by the Falkirk Herald, 23 October 1875, 2]
Provost Russel’s failing health led him to sell of much of his collection of specimen tree-ferns, palms, cycads, ramias, and other rare plants in October 1877 and these brought a good price. Ex-Provost Russel died at Mayfield on 17 October 1881. In September the following year, the entire plant collection at Mayfield was sold by auction by D Mitchell of Edinburgh. It attracted buyers from all over Britain for the 500 lots. Orchids brought high prices. Two plants (Backhouse yellow catleya) were sold for 33 guineas. Yews, ornamental trees and rhododendrons also sold well. In all, the auction netted just under £2,000. Mrs Russel continued to live in the house – courtesy of her deceased husband’s trustees. Her brother, WS Barr of aerated water fame also lived there for a couple of years, but in September 1884 the property – 7 ½ acres with the house – was put up for sale with an upset price of £5,000. It attracted no interest. By February 1885 the price had been reduced to £4,000 and this did find a sale. The purchaser was Robert Wilson who had been living nearby at Arnot Hall. He was the eldest son of James Wilson of Bantaskine. Robert Wilson had spent much of his working life on the family’s estates in Trinidad and it was time for him to settle down.
February 1887 saw a fire at Mayfield which caused £200 worth of damage. It originated at a stove in the hall, the sham wooden front of which became ignited and spread to the lathing of the wall. Flames rapidly spread up the walls and ceiling. Thankfully, the Falkirk Fire Brigade was quickly on hand and extinguished the fire – even though the property was then outside of the burgh boundary. Water from the pond was used to quench the flames and the fire was largely confined to the hall and dining room.
Unlike his predecessor, Robert Wilson did not take part in public affairs. He continued to cultivate the garden and The Orchid-Grower’s Manual of 1894 by Benjamin Samuel Williams notes a variety named after him:
(R.A. Rolfe, in Gardeners’ Chronicle, 3rd ser., 1888, iii p.522).”
“O. Harryanum, Mr Wilson’s variety. – A handsome and distinct variety, which flowered in the collection of Robert Wilson, Esq., of Mayfield, Falkirk. “The sepals are intense blackish-maroon, the yellow transverse markings and the yellow margin being almost entirely absent, while the same may be said of the petals; in the lip the maroon markings of the side lobes are more pronounced than usual.”
It was at this time too that L.H Soutar wrote a book called “Monthly Gleanings in a Scottish Garden” which was published in 1909 by T Fisher Unwin in London. It described the seasons in Mayfield gardens and might be considered as a predecessor of “An Edwardian Lady’s Diary.”
Robert Wilson lived at Mayfield until his father’s death in 1904 when he removed to North Bantaskine. He died at Bantaskine House on 9 October 1908. After being on the market for some time John Craig Allan, solicitor, bought Mayfield from the Trustees of late Robert Wilson in February 1910. JC Allan was the senior partner of A & JC Allan & Co, solicitors, Falkirk. He took a very great pleasure in his garden, and was adding to its greenhouse accommodation, and looking forward to further improving and beautifying the grounds of Mayfield when he was laid aside by illness. He did not have long to enjoy his success and he died at Mayfield on 4 May 1912. His widow and children continued to live there and in August 1914 she offered Mayfield for use as a hospital for the war effort. The offer was never taken up.
Towards the end of the First World War, in January 1918, Mayfield was put up for sale. Again it took some time to find a purchaser, this time William James Gibb, a pitwood importer from Grangemouth. He led an even quieter public life than those before him. Mrs Gibb did, however, do much good work. William Gibb of Mayfield died 1 Nov 1936, aged 70. The following year Falkirk Council proposed to put a new road along the boundary between Mayfield & Mr Forbes’ land as far west as Maggie Woods Loan, to run alongside the new hospital.
In 1976 planning permission was granted to J.H. Maxwell & Sons of Falkirk to build a house in the grounds.
Accounts of the Gardens and its Plants
1860: “Suburban rambles. No 2. MAYFIELD. …we bent our steps towards Arnothill. This is a favourite resort of our lieges. It is a kind of public park condensed into a tolerably well-kept walk between two hedges along the ridge of the elevation. There are some rich and varied views of the surrounding scenery to be had from several points along the route, where, we daresay, some benevolent person will one day or other place a few seats, on which the weary may rest. These might be of stone, a little too heavy for the light-fingered movements of covetous or destructive urchins; and we have no doubt they would be highly valued by the adult generally, and the invalid portion in particular, of the inhabitants of the town and neighbourhood. But we are going to avail ourselves of a kind invitation to visit the garden and grounds of Mayfield, the pretty Italian villa residence of John Russel, Esq. On reaching the principal entrance, which communicates with Maggie Wood’s Loan on the west, we are struck with the very neat gate and the graceful sweep of the approach, which exhibits a facsimile of Hogarth’s “line of beauty”. On either side of the approach is a border of moderate width, containing a numerous and select collection of evergreen trees and shrubs. On the south border, we may observe that it is Mr Russel’s intention to allow the fine deodars to remain permanent, and to “weed out” annually the, though more rare, yet less effective specimens which crowd around them. In these borders we observed some fine specimens of Golden Yews, Thuja giganteas, Thujopsis borealis, cupressus macrocarpa, Cupressus Lawsoniana, 5 feet high; and Bedfordiann, Taxus Koora, and adpressa, Juniperus ovalus, Virginia, pendula, japonica, and Hispania. These were principally in the front of the borders, and the fine plants, have a very pretty effect. Behind these are numerous standard and weeping trees, such as scarlet and other thorns, cotoneaster, citisis ramose, Ilex pendula, Aralea japonica, Maiden-hair tree, Taxoduims, cryptomerias, Wellingtonias, deodars, & c, & c. Two fine weeping ashes, thirty feet high, stand near the gate, as sentinels over this fine collection of plants. There is a splendid variegated oak, the straightest plant we ever saw, near to the house. The habit of this variety, as is well known, is contrary to upright, and it is seldom to be found in any other form than that of a bush; here, however, the plant has a capital leader, and it will in a few years make a handsome tree. We noticed a sport on a fine Chinese arborvitae – a twig was perfectly white; and if Mr Russel will take the trouble to graft that twig, we daresay he will secure a novelty. There is a considerable space of lawn on the west front of the house, bounded by borders containing choice variegated and other trees and shrubs. On this lawn we noticed a Pinus Douglassii which has made 22 inches of wood this season; several Wellingtonias that have made from a foot to 14 inches; two pretty specimens of silver deodar; two golden yews, 8 foot high – one of them five feet through; a Cryptomeria japonica 11 feet high; a deodar 12 feet, and a Taxodium sempervirans 18 feet high! This we take to be the finest plant in Scotland. We also noted two specimens, five feet high, of Lawson’s cupressus. Of this pretty Cypress there seems to be two distinct varieties, both of which Mr Russel possesses. The one is more compact and upright in its habit than the other, but both are equally graceful. In the north border are fine plants of Acacia pseudo armeria, variegated plain, weeping walnut, fern-leaved beech, ash-leaved oak, & c. At the western extremity of the lawn is a crescent-shaped bed containing healthy plants of John Waterer, Madame von de Weyer, Paxtonii, Sir Isaac Newton, and a number of the newest and best varieties of rhododendrons. Here we saw Lady Eleanor Cathcart well furnished with plump bloom buds, a fact not to be recorded anywhere, every day in the open air. On the south front of the house are a row of Irish yews with weeping elms, and the Kimarnock weeping willow; and at either end of this terrace is placed on carriage a nine pound carronade. Around and close to the house there is a narrow border of mignonette, which adds a delicious perfume to the surrounding air. On the eastern terrace s a row of Irish yews all of the same height and size, and at the extreme north a fine plant of the Pampas grass Gynerium Argenteum. Below this terrace there is a plateau of grass, on which we observed fine Wellingtonias, some of which had made 18 inches of wood this season; a handsomely formed Auracaria, surrounded by eight pretty Chinese arborvetas – rather a novel idea – and a fine plant of Picea Noiblis. There is here a circular bed of scarlet geraniums edged with blue Lebelia, and one of German stocks, which have a pretty effect. On the boundary border we saw deodara robustra; a five feet high plant of the weeping deciduous Cypress; some fine rhododendrons; golden and silver ash; purple-leaved plane; the singular screw thorn; healthy plants of the Weymouth pine, and a host of other plants. Leaving this portion of these pretty grounds, we walk down to the rose garden, which is contiguous to an ornamental piece of water south of the park. On either side of this walk we find the same good taste displayed in the selection of plants and specimens. Perhaps the finest and most rare plant in the kingdom adorns this part of the grounds – it is the Caragaria jubata. It is impossible to pass this plant without being struck with its most singular and beautiful foliage. But we are now at the lake, which contains many fine trout from one to two pounds weight, and on which a rare variety of the duck species are paddling about. There is an island in the centre covered with several varieties of willows. There is a constant supply of water from the adjoining streamlet, and where the surplus water runs out there are two pillars of the Kilmarnock weeping willow united at top in form of an arch. These, with the silvery stream escaping underneath, have a most pretty and pleasing effect. On the south boundary we have again the same valuable collection of plants, and to the north a selection of roses, among which we noticed fine plants of Willison’s weeping and other standards 10 feet high, General Jaquiminot, Blairii No. 2, Coupe de Hebe, Lord Raglan, Jules Margottin Adile Prevost, and numerous other fine varieties. This is a sweet retired spot, and is laid out with great good taste. The kitchen garden is to the westward, and is divided from the rosary by a yew hedge. In this we found all varieties of vegetables essential to the generally acknowledged usages of culinary gastronomic taste in the highest state of luxuriance. The boundary line between the park and this portion of the domain is very distinctly marked by a line of trees, consisting of upright poplars and lofty weeping ash every 15 feet alternately, with an Irish yew between. This arrangement will in time have a singularly pleasing effect, and will add much to the beauty of the place.[FH 30 Aug 1860, 3]
…On the west Mr Russel is shut in – and, we think, fortunately as regards shelter – by the plantations of Bantaskine; but in the north the Ochils, as far as the eye can reach down the Forth, and in the south Callendar Hill, form the boundaries of the varied landscape.
We now take leave of this pretty villa, its somewhat extensive grounds, and fine collection of plants, with the remark that Mr Russel has in the short space of four years, at considerable expense, succeeded in transforming another “waif of nature” into a pretty and inviting paradise.
1862: Some magnificent exotic plants, including retinispora pisifera and obtura, coleus verchaffeltie. Also a stand of 24 amazing picotees and carnations; and five new trees recently introduced into this country from Japan by Mr John Standish and Messr Veitch, of London, including Thuopals Dolebraia Varliegata. They will grow to a height of 80 or 100 feet at the rate of 2 ½ each season. They are evergreens and will remain in full foliage during the winter months and are, we believe, the only plants of this species in Scotland.(FH 18 September 1862, 3).
1864, summer: “Just to see how the grounds were looking this season, both as regards present appearances, and future prospects, we dropped in upon them the other evening, and had our eyes feasted with an even more than former display of verdure and bloom. But in this glorious month of May, the fairest and rarest of Flora’s family must, of course, be seen at the best advantage. At present, the Mayfield property is in beautiful condition. The feet tread on a deep green sward, with a pile like the softest velvet, while everywhere the eye is dazzled with the gay robes with which trees and shrubs are alike adorned. The weeping Gean, with its gracefully drooping foliage and snow-white blossom, vies with its neighbour the double cherry of not less sweetness and purity; whilst both are totally eclipsed by the gorgeous rhododendrons and flaunting tulips of the surrounding slopes and parterres. Across the upper lawn are also a great variety of splendid plants, and rare, too, as magnificent. We shall content ourselves by merely particularising a few of the more notable. First of all, there is the cupresses nutkaensis (thuiopsis borealis), now thoroughly clad with ripe seed, and this, we believe, is the first time that the same plant has been known to fruit in Britain. It stands eight feet high, and is alike admirable in conical form and closeness of foliage. Then we have other specimens of the pine, including the retinispora obtuse, the sciadopitys verticillata (umbrella pine) the thuiopsis dolobrata, the cupressus Lawsoniana, the picea nobilis, & c. Nor can we omit other two particular specimens of their class: the Saxe-Gothea conspicua (Prince Albert Yew), which at present shows a load of both male and female blooms. The plant, in all respects, is exceedingly well-grown, and measure about six feet in height. The other – a really pretty little bush – is the euonymus aureis sureis variegate. Within the hot-houses, however, are the most valuable, and, in some instances at least, the most lovely of the flowers and shrubs. Let us note the dendrobium densiflorum, the dendrobium Dalhousianum, the saxifrage from Japan, the yucca quadricolor, the dracaena cordyline indivisa, the clematis fortune and Standishi, the lastrea Standishi, the lilium Thundbergianum, the thuiopsis Standishi, & c. Mr Russel has also under glass 20 bulbs of the lilium auratum, together with an infinite variety of geraniums, Japanese honey-suckles, and fuschias. The Mayfield grounds are likewise about to be further adorned, artificially, by the erection of a water fountain, while the pond itself is to be laid immediately with metal, so that the water may at all times be perfectly clear.”(FH 24 May 1864, 2).
1864, autumn: “A prominent portion of the day’s attraction was the beautiful and splendid laid out grounds of Bailie Russel. The collection of rare and curious plants which this gentleman possesses is truly astonishing, and was the theme of universal admiration to the numerous assemblage of spectators. Attention was at first prominently attracted to the magnificent upper floral border in front of the house. It consisted of csaphalum lanata for the outside border, with the second line of geraniums (cloth of gold), the third of golden chief, the next of Madame Vaucher (white), followed by another row equally fine, then two rows of bijon, and afterwards stella and vivid both scarlet, with another appropriate margin, and a background of golden hollys and dark ewes alternately. Among Bailie Russel’s rare plants we observed in the vinery some fine specimens of yuccas, including Felimentosa variegate, agave filifera, yuccas quadricolor, and agave achidigima. There was also a large collection of hardy orchids, including odontoglosum grande, Sycaste skinnerii, Epedendrum vitilimum, Clanthe vistala, and epidendrum cnemedophenum, for the first time introduced into this country. In the same house were also about a score of lilium auratum, or new Japanese lily, which bears flowers to the size of about a handbreadth of a white and pink colour; also, Asophila Australis, or New Zealand tree fern, a splendid plant about nine feet high; a variegated orange tree, and a fine specimen of Trieyrtis grandiflora. In the store, we observed a magnificent collection of East Indian orchids from Moulmein, including phaloenopsis schilleriana, vanda cerulea, vandagigantea, philoenopsis grandiflora, vanda suavis, dundrobium dalhouseiana, cattleya pianelli grandiflora, aerides, lindleyyana, phaloenopsis aurabilis, queen of the orchids, loelia purpurata, and aerides crispum. Of other varieties of exotic plants, we noticed bambura varigata, dracema ferrea grande, alocasia macrohirza variegate, nanus satavus variegate or variegated pineapple, and pervetea barbaric. Of mosses and ferns there were, amongst the most prominent, gymnogramma laucheans, schlaginella involvens, donyopteris nobilis, lastrea standishi, gymnogram malanara, donyopteris palmate, cheilanthes tenuis, aspllenum nidus, or bird nest fern, and cyatha diabata. Of other plants there were alocacia zebrine, remeckia carnea variagata, allocacia lowi, and allocacia metallica. The principal display in the greenhouse was geraniums, of which there was a profuse variety and altogether a gorgeous collection, amongst which we noted the bride, carminatum improved, Adonis, Miss Parfit, Rose Rendatler, cybister, woodwardiana, the swan, Madame Vaucher, Virgo Maria, Helen Lindsay, Roi de Italia, Mrs Pollock, Snowflake, Lady Colum, and admiration. Japanese plants occupied a considerable space in the greenhouse, the finest specimens being remosfera pisifera aurea, dracinei cordyline indivisa, and saxifrage variegate, and there was a beautiful fuschia (cloth of gold). In another greenhouse there was a splendid white camellia, and, altogether, the collection of plants and flowers in the grounds and hothouses was rare and valuable. The policy is beautifully laid out, and elicited warm expressions of admiration. Among the specimens sent in for exhibition which did not compete, the most worthy of notice were several clematises from Japan, “launginosa,” by James Neilson, Esq., of Rosehall, who also displayed some lovely gladioli, and a superb rose, “gloure de Dijon.” Mr John Standish, of the royal nurseries, Ascot, showed some splendid gladioli; and Messrs Downie, Laird, & Laing, nurserymen, Edinburgh, exhibited about the best hollyhocks ever produced, and also some beautiful dahlias. The other leading exhibitors were Messrs Joseph Gartshore & Sons, Falkirk, whose dahlias were remarkably good, and in point of fact, considering the bad season, far superior to what might have been expected. The same firm showed garden chairs and vases in great variety. Mr James Nicol, Avondale Gardens, exhibited a capital basket of grapes, and otherwise this part of the show was excellent. Hollyhocks formed the most imposing feature of the competition and were unusually good, while in all other departments the show was above an average. Despite the boisterous weather the exhibition was well attended, and the grounds of Mayfield were visited during the afternoon by numbers of the elite of the town and neighbourhood.”(FH 10 September 1864, 2).
1865: “The weather was most delightful; indeed a more favourable day for such a purpose could not possibly have been desired. Owing in some measure to the circumstance the attractive grounds of Mayfield were seem to excellent advantage, and elicited from the numerous visitors expressions of the most unbounded surprise and admiration. For our part we found each portion of the policy more pleasant and gorgeous than ever, and it could hardly fail to realise even to the most imaginative spectator his brightest dreams of Adam’s paradise, or the glowing splendours of Fairy-land. Few more charming or fascinating localities are to be found in this country, and the inhabitants of Falkirk ought to appreciate the courteous and cordial kindliness manifested by Bailie Russel in throwing it open to them for holding their annual horticultural show. On entering the grounds, our attention was first attracted to the lawn at the west of the house where a number of conifers and other ornamental trees are growing in rich luxuriance. On examining these more minutely, we found that they embraced specimens from almost every quarter of the globe – from the eternal snows of the North Pole and south through the tropics as far as the swamps of Patagonia and the finely wooded plains of the Australasian Isles. The continents of Asia and America had alike been laid under contribution to make the scene more brilliant and varied, and rare plants were seen on every hand, from the exclusive territories of Japan as well as the gold shores of California. Among the more select of the class of trees we noticed numbers of golden yew, the Auricaria imbracata from South America, of most unique appearance; the Picea Nordmanniana, from the Crimea, a handsome broadleaved tree with a fine gloss and — green colour; the Picea Nobilis, or Noble Douglas silver fir, from Northern California, a capital decorative plant; the Thuiopsis Borealis, in fruit, from as far North as Nootka Sound; the Fitzroya Patagonica, a distinct species from Patagonia, named after the late Admiral Fitzroy; the Taxodium Sempervirens, from North America, a tree which grows to an extraordinary height; and the Wellingtonia Gigantea, the mammoth tree of California, supposed to be the highest growing tree in the world. There are numbers of other conifers and ornamental trees growing not only on the lawn but on other parts of the grounds, but those mentioned above will be sufficient to convey an idea of their general excellence. On the side of the drive we were pleased to see several plants of the Lillium longiflorum Japonicum in bloom, although growing in the open air; and elsewhere we noticed a variegated Turkey oak in a flourishing state, and a very fine Japanese honeysuckle, which is trained in the form of a canopy.(FH 31 August 1865, 2).
Passing to the east of the house, the first features which attract attention are two lovely circular beds of geraniums panelled in four divisions, with a dark plant growing through them in the form of a St George’s Cross, and both surrounded with coniferous trees in the shape of a horseshoe. In front of the house there are a number of Agaves and huge specimens of American aloes growing in pots, and on a lower terrace one of the finest borders which it has ever been our good fortune to behold. Gorgeous is too poor a word to use in describing this triumph of the floral art, for in point of fact it quite baffles description. Next to the green turf comes a line of Cerastium termintoes, followed by Arabis lucida varigata. Then there is a groundwork of Gnephalium lanata, with panels of Coleus Verschafelta, Mrs Pollock geranium, and Centaria Candidissiuia at equal distances, which is succeeded by two feet wide of Golden Chain, and Cloth of gold geraniums, broken every twelve feet with Centaria Candidissinia. Next comes two feet wide of Bijou and Christina geraniums, twelve feet of each alternately, broken with Coleus Verschafelta, and then there is a line of golden yews, golden hollys, and Centaria Candidissima, the whole backed with green and golden topped yews. The effect of this delicious combination of colour is most enchanting. It is so rich and deep as to rejoice the sense of sight, and the eye never tires of dwelling upon the glorious scene, but revels in it with inexpressible pleasure. It is hardly necessary that we should say that Bailie Russel can boast of a splendid collection of Orchidaceous plants. In fact, he possesses almost every variety worth having from the Dendrobium formosum to the Vanda suavis, and we need only add that they occupy two greenhouses, one containing the Mexican and the other the Indian department. Proceeding down the eastern path towards the fish pond, we come to a charming grass walk with two tasteful and elegant borders. Close to the grass is a line of Golden chain geraniums, then rows of Christina, Bijon, and Stella geraniums in succession; next, Cynerarria maritime and Gazina splendens, the whole having a backing of dark yews alternating with golden yews. The two borders match each other, and at either terminal point of the promenade there is a beautiful floral bed with specimens of Centaria candidissima and the golden yew as the central figures.
The most magnificent feature in the ornamental wonders of Mayfield is, however, the large new greenhouse at the south-east corner of the grounds, which is fitted up and adorned as a winter garden. The marvellous crystal palace took the spectators completely by surprise, and fairly surpasses the expectations formed of it by the most sanguine from what they had previously seen. It seemed as if it had been raised and stored for enchantment, and forcibly reminded us of those gorgeous visions of grandeur of which we read in Beckford’s “Vathek,” or the wondrous thousand and one “Arabian Night.” Its herbaceous contents embrace splendid tree ferns, palms, dracaeuas, cordylines, maratas, variegated aloes, and other rare and choice foliage plants. These are so artistically arranged that they form three noble avenues, all having picturesque terminations. The central vista is peculiarly grand. Every plant embraced in the view is distinctly visible, and the whole might form a difficult and complicated study for the most accomplished of our artists. Of the more rare and noteworthy contents of this glorious spot, we may mention the following in the order in which we took them down, without reference to the different species of plant to which they belong. Among crowds of others there were the following:- Yucca quadricolor, Anthurium leuconerium, Dracaena cordylyne indivisa from New Zealand, which grows to a height of ten feet, a very distinct foliaged plant with broad re-curved striped leaves; Golden ferns, Fortune’s variegated camellias in bloom, Dichorisandra vittita rosea with a very curious marbled stem; fine specimens of Maidenhair ferns, Bird nest fern from India; Cordyline Veitchii, very rare; Aucuba Japonica, male and female, bearing fruit, supposed to be for the first time in this country; the graceful Cyperus atternifolia; Agave schultgina, a remarkably curious plant, upon which Eve might have found the needle and thread with which she sewed the aprons of fig leaves in Eden; Dracaecea cooperii, new and scarce, the finest of the class; the variegated orange; Yucca aloeifolia, variegated pineapple from China, glorious Caladiums; Colocasia antiquorum, very rich and gorgeous; Cycas ruminiana or new sago palm; Alocasia metallica, one of the noblest plants in cultivation, with large oblong leaves, which are described as having the upper surface of a dark shining green suffused with reddish copper or bronze tints, and the under surface of a rich shining purple crimson; the bread fruit tree, Musa vitata, Anuanus satavus varigata, Peperomes airifolia, Gymnograma Peruvian argyrifolia, the most lovely and ornamental of all the ferns, which is powdered with silver dust like a miller’s coat; Mimosa sensitive or sensitive plant in bloom; the marble-stemmed Alocasia, Zebrina, Agave fillifera; Saxifriga Japonica, beautifully variegated, commonly known as Aaron’s beard; Disa Crenullata multifructa from Japan, silver leaved Hyderangia Varigata Japonica, Dracaena latifolia peudula, the transparent lily of the Nile, and a host of equally admirable etceteras. Though the nomenclature of these plants is somewhat pedantic and forbidding, they themselves are to our thinking more thoroughly beautiful than the most gaudy coloured flowers. The different shades of green which they present render them very delightful to look upon, but when the delicate tints of the variegated specimens are included, the scene becomes perfectly charming. Truly the public of Falkirk and neighbourhood, as well as the exhibitors and members of the Horticultural Society, are under lasting debt of gratitude to Bailie Russel for so nobly and generously allowing them access to his grounds and greenhouses on the occasion of the annual show. The whole grounds of Mayfield are laid out to perfection, and reflect credit upon the taste and discernment of the respected proprietor. A word of praise is also due to Mr Thomas Sorley, his gardener, who most ably and skilfully carries out the designs of his employer, and keeps his policy, trees, plants, and flower plots in a state of perfection, which many of his professional brethren, even in more pretentious situations, would do well to copy….”
1865: “The grounds of Mayfield contain about ten acres, divided into three nearly equal parts of bottom-flat, partly occupied by the kitchen garden, slope, and top-flat, on which is the terraced and elegant dwelling-house, and from which, as well as from the slope, splendid views extend far into the surrounding country. Along the whole lower side of the slope is a wide grass walk, edged with a broad border on each side, laid out in the choicest style of ribbon gardening, and backed with alternate green and variegated yews. Along the top of the slope is a terrace ribbon-border, composed chiefly of lightish-coloured plants, among which is a neat compact line of the pretty Arabis lucida variegate, the whole being relieved at frequent intervals by large and luxuriantly growing plants of Coleus Verachaffelti, Mrs Pollock, and Sunset geraniums, and backed with variegated and green hollies, yews, & c. In the lower grounds there is a wide span-roofed house, 80 feet in length, filled with the most choice flowering and foliaged stove and greenhouse plants many of which form splendid specimens, and among them are some of the most recent introductions; a commodious camellia-house, containing some handsome plants of unusually large size; an aviary of ornamental birds, with adjoining houses and yards occupied with unusually fine specimens of various kinds of domestic poultry and a fish-pond, with a variety of fountain jets, which formed special objects of attraction for the younger visitors. Near the summit of the principal slope-ascending walk are a tastefully constructed stove, orchid house, and vinery; among other plants along its sides, Amarantus in lancheicus rubra and Iresine Herbeti seemed quite at home in our northern climate. Lonicera aurea reticulate, which has flowered here this season, is largely cultivated and seems a favourite for flower clump edgings, as well as for wall, rose-tree-stem, and umbrella pila-training. A plant of the Aucuba japonica fern, had its large cherry-like fruit nearly ripened; but the grand objects of attraction are the numerous and fine specimens of coniferae, as well as other rare and select trees and shrubs, among which are most of the hardy sorts recently introduced from Japan and elsewhere, which are profusely interspersed over great part of the grounds, and chiefly on the well-kept turf lawns – among which may be mentioned (as its fruiting in the south is now attracting attention) several large specimens of Cupressus nutleaensis, which have fruited regularly since 1862, and two of which are now thickly covered with cones although in perfect health…”(FH 5 September 1865, 2 – taken from the Scottish Farmers’).
1872: “Unquestionably the beautiful grounds of Mayfield formed a special attraction, and occupied even a larger share of attention, as well they might, affording greater scope for leisurely survey of the numerous plants and flowers which adorn the spacious terraces and large conservatories. On entering the grounds the first thing to arrest the attention is the beautifully trained spiral trees, and the lawn grass as closely cut and glossy as Utrecht velvet, and filled with the finest coniferous plants from North America, California, British Columbia, Australia, China, the Himalayas and Japan. The flower borders are rich and gorgeous in the extreme – we believe the upper terrace border is unsurpassed by any in the kingdom. In embraces every colour in the rainbow. We can only mention some of the most striking plants in this wonderful triumph of art and skill. The low crimson-topped Alternanthera Amablis, the glossy, shining, variegated Mesemhryanthe, and the beautiful rosette-like glaucous coloured Echeveria, wrought into scroll or embroidery work, and other grand designs, backed up with the globe-headed golden yews and other green branched cypresses, formed a tour ensemble which is perfectly captivating. To the east of this is another beautiful path, upwards of two hundred yards in length, almost a of borders in a striking undulating form to match for the other, but planted in quite a different style. Another great attraction was a beautiful artificial pond with jets in the centre and surrounded by noble specimens of American aloes. A great space is covered with glass houses whose occupants are from every tropical clime, embracing the rarest orchidious plants of great value for some of which the Provost has refused £100, the other conservatories teeming with the most gorgeous palms, splendid Dracoenas and lofty tree ferns, with a host of other valuable plants far too many to name. What struck us as very noble and fine among lawn trees was Picea Noblis, a grand towering tree of California, as healthy as in its native home; Cuppressus Lawsoniana; Thujiopsis Borealis from Neutka Sound; and Cedrus Deodara, from the Himilayan Mountains, in excellent health. What seemed in greatest favour, however, and caused crowds of onlookers to linger longest, was not so much the lovely ornamented borders of the principal walks, as the little grotesquely formed corner at the entrance to the grounds. It is ingeniously laid out, and filled with a variety of succulent plants, chiefly of the house leek kind, several of which are rare, and their diminutive and quiet hue formed the subject of much studious speculation…”(FH 24 August 1872, 2).
1873: “Our space will only allow of a glance at the well-kept borders and parterres, the beautiful mown grass, as close and green as Utrecht velvet; and at the numerous trees from almost every clime, many of which have been trained into the most pleasing forms. Those which are perfect by nature are left untouched; the colour of their foliage includes all the shades of green, white, purple, and of gold. It is difficult to convey an approximate idea of the effect of such an assemblage of graceful forms and pleasing colours produced upon the senses. The bedding out invites special attention for the gorgeous combinations of colour, and one lingers in admiration at such a pleasing spectacle. The charm is heightened at every turning as the visitor unexpectedly comes upon some new device in purple or crimson, or frosted silvery whites, pinks, and orange. The newest additions to the grounds are low-creeping Lysimachia Nimularia Aurea, and the low rich crimson-coloured Alternanthera Amabilis, and also the beautiful creamy white Mesembrysnthemium Cordyfolium. Among the house plants, , Orchideous department, we only note what we saw in bloom as claiming special attention. Of these there is the beautiful Loelia Elegans with its matchless lip of the deepest crimson; Saccolabium Blumeii with its long graceful racemes of mottled white and purple; Oncidium Papillo, the exact type of a large butterfly; Aerides Nobile, having long drooping scented wreaths of pink and white; the wonderful white Peristeria Alata; the Sancta Spirito of the Mexicans, which is a striking facsimile of a dove sitting in a cot. We also noticed the lovely Paneratium Carabicum with its snowy white cup and side petals drooping like a fountain; but perhaps the rarest plant in bloom was the Lapageria Alba, and blooming for the first time in Scotland, the texture of which is the finest wax, and the colour is purest white as unsunned snow. This plant will probably become a favourite as a bridal flower. Then there are the magnificent Palms, the lofty Tree Ferns, the majestic Dracaenas, the Aloes, the Dasylirons, the Beacarneas, the Zainias, and Yuccas, and numberless others which, perhaps, no other private collection in Scotland embraces. The Succulents, another new portion of gardening which is becoming very popular, which first took root here in Scotland, are most quaint, and comprise curious and interesting forms of that class of plants. These are dotted and arranged into little beds, and form one of the most curious scenes to be found almost in any part of the vegetable kingdom. They have an interest all of their own, and which arrests the attention of every onlooker who lingers to examine a scene in itself that is quite a novelty…”(FH 23 August 1873, 2).
1874: “As you enter the gate there is nothing to catch the eye of extra importance, save a few shrubs blended with some very rare ornamental plants, such as variegated cedars, & c. After going about twenty yards you strike off by a walk to the right, where can be seen one of the finest collections of succulent plants in the kingdom. Among them are several thousand plants of Sempervivums of the largest and first varieties of the day. In the same collection are about a score of varieties of sedums, including those of sedum seboldi and sedum azoidium. The visitor then comes to the circular terrace, where he is at once enchanted as the lights upon the fine shrubs that adorn this place, more especially those of the golden and silver yews. Here also are a number of large specimens of acernegunda varegata. The eye up to this point has never caught hold of the gay flowers and ornamental foliage plants which adorn the terrace. This semi-circular terrace is upwards of 150 yards in extent, and has two rows of plants running from end to end both on the front and back of the border – the former being laid out with dwarf plants, and the latter with taller growing sorts including those of variegated geraniums. Every six or eight feet there is a small circle about two feet, made up of Golden Feather to the outside of the circle, and Irisines in the centre, and others of Sempervivums and Irisines. The vacant space being filled up by ornamental plants, the finest of them being that of mesembryanthemum cordafolium varegatum, & c. The dark red of the Irisines and the variegated geraniums, with the small red dwarf plants on the grassy side, and the excellent manner in which they are laid out, prove that Mr Sorley the gardener is an artist of no small note, and whose taste in blending of colours cannot be excelled by those in his trade. You then come to the orchid house, where can be seen one of the largest, best, and rarest collections in Britain. Mayfield orchids have often taken first place in London, and this year a few spikes sent to London for exhibition at the National Horticultural Society, were highly commended by the judges. This collection of orchids, some of the best authorities of the day state, are worth several thousand pounds. You then come to the ribbon borders, which are several hundred yards in length, and surpass all others that are to be found, owing to the situation in which they are placed, which is on the brow of a hill. They consist of several rows of the finest plants that the flower garden can produce. At the bottom of the flower garden is a small pond and rivulet which runs along the foot of the terraces. There are placed around the pond several large plants of “striped aloes,” about four feet in diameter. To the west of this are the hardy and herbaceous border plants, for which Mayfield has long been famous. You then come to the stove-house, where can be seen many of the finest and largest specimens of exotic ferns, caladiums, begonias, and many fine plants of large size. There is a plant here of a striped junkie, which causes a fine effect when growing among the ferns; besides a large collection of soft and hard wood, fine foliage plants, which make the fern-house quite a fairy scene. After leaving the stove-house, the palm-house is the next place of resort, and though last, is not the least, for here are some large specimens, and for which large prices have been offered by London nurserymen. On one occasion that we visited Mayfield one of the gardeners was whistling “O’ a’ the airts the wind can blaw” in the above house, with a Cock Robin sitting on one of the palms listening to the cheerful notes, and afterwards trying to mutter them over. Alongside the palms are a number of tree ferns, some of which are the largest plants of the sort in North Britain. Besides there are many very large plants of pines, & c. The largest specimens of ornamental foliage plants placed among the evergreen plants make it pleasant for the eye to look upon.”[FH 8 October 1874, 2: taken from the Stirling Journal].
1876: “In close proximity to the tents containing the show were the two greenhouses, the long house containing palms and tree ferns of rare and beautiful varieties , including the Calamus Dealbata, Calamus Getah, Chamaerops Palmetto, Cibotium Scheeidi (twenty feet across), Cibotium princeps, and three pots of maiden-hair fern, measuring fully six feet in diameter. Crossing to the high house on the opposite side of the gravel walk the visitor saw one of the finest collections of tree ferns and palms in Scotland, outside of the Botanical Gardens, some of the specimens being worth fully a hundred guineas each. Among these may be specified the Cyathea Dealbata, from fifteen to twenty feet high; Dixonia Squarosa (said to be one of the finest in Europe), Dixonia Antartica, Dracaena Australis, about 25 feet high, and a splendid specimen of the Cibotium Regale. Outside there was a vista of a beautifully kept gravel walk, two hundred yards in length, bordered by green and gold foliage plants, backed by trees of silver foliage and yews, grafted with golden tops. Proceeding along this walk northwards the visitor came to another vista, curving at right angles in front of the residence of Provost Russel, and passing through a smooth-shaven lawn and carpet bedding of foliage plants of all shades and varieties, planted at intervals with green hollies, acacias, the variegated Japanese acer, including the rare umbrella plant, a specimen imported from Japan, where it was once growing. At the end of the lawn, and close by the house, is an arboretum planted with some of the rarest and finest trees in the world, some of which are well worth a special visit, viz., the Retinispora Obtusa, which is one of the tiniest trees in Japan, owing to its perfect symmetry, and is generally planted in front of the Japanese temples; the Wellingtonia Gigantea from Northern California, which grows into the tallest tree in the world. Time would fail to mention other trees from North and South America, the Himalaya Mountains, Patagonia, & c, and to specify all the examples of ornamental and artistic gardening that are here to be met with.(FH 31 August 1876, 5).
At the bottom of the grounds is the enclosure, surrounded on all sides with garden walks and evergreens, which forms an admirable site for the tents containing the show, of which we shall next take a survey…” Camelon Band played. The number of visitors amounted to nearly 4,000.
G.B. Bailey (2020)