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Gardens Great and Small - A Story of Dumfries and Galloway's Lost Gardens

This delightful temporary exhibition celebrates the ‘lost’ gardens of 17th, 18th and 19th century Dumfries and Galloway.

In researching the exhibition the historian Frances Wilkins has examined numerous documents, plans, maps and photographs in both private collections and public archives.  The result is fascinating in its detail.  For example, when Lady Stair moved to Culhorn House near Stranraer in 1792 the garden grew a remarkable range of vegetables, including five types of onion and six varieties of cabbage. 

A special section on the gardens at Kirkconnell House near New Abbey reveals a garden dominated by fruit trees during the mid nineteenth century, with the surplus being sold in Dumfries.  However, there was still room for the family’s favourite flower, the hyacinth.  The greenhouse at Andrew Heron’s home at Balgaly near Newton Stewart contained oranges, lemons, and pomegranates.  At Terregles House near Dumfries there was great interest in trees, especially their measurements.  One oak is recorded as having a circumference of 12 feet, and a horse chestnut measured 17 feet. 

Gardeners today may believe biological pest control is a recent development, but in 1906 one author records a remedy for aphid attack which may be familiar - “the importation of ladybirds, if a sufficiently hardy species can be found somewhere…”

The exhibition includes a large table covered in garden plans for visitors to study, including those from Arbigland near Kirkbean, and Closeburn.  Browse books with further information on the plants, gardeners, seedsmen and nurserymen are also available.  The objects on exhibition have been carefully selected from the reserve collections at Dumfries Museum, and include several silver medals awarded as prizes at local horticultural shows and a giant leather boot, one of four worn by a horse pulling a grass cutting machine on Sanquhar Golf Course.  One small leaflet with the title “Sludge Guide” refers to ‘Eradite – the oldest established municipal compost in Britain’ – produced by Dumfries County Council.