Inveresk open garden advocates are ending participation in Scotland’s Gardens Scheme after six decades

HORTICULTURE representatives in Inveresk have decided it is time to say goodbye to participation in Scotland’s Gardens Scheme after six decades of loyal service.

George and Jane Burnet have opened their historic garden at Rose Court to the public for more than 60 years, since the first event following an official visit by the Earl of Wemyss and March, Lord High Commissioner of the Church of Inveresk Scotland General Assembly.

And Morag and Rod Reeves, who have welcomed visitors to their garden at 29 Inveresk Village for the last three garden launches, are stepping down from the program to take place next Saturday and Sunday (18th and 19th June) after becoming grandparents are.

The first Inveresk project in 1959 saw four gardens open to the public: Rose Court, Catherine Lodge, Eskhill and Oak Lodge.

Back then, 40 per cent of the proceeds were split between the Queen’s Institute, the National Trust for Scotland’s Gardens Fund and the newly formed Inveresk Preservation Society.

Since then, Mr and Mrs Burnet, along with other green-fingered residents of the conservation village, have raised thousands of pounds for various charities over the years, with the total rising from £133 in 1962 to £5,044 in 2016.

The familiar yellow posters used to advertise Scotland’s Gardens Scheme

Ms Burnet said: “We were all very excited about the opening of the first garden because it had never happened before. The gardens all had a gardener back then.”

The couple moved to Rose Court in 1954; In 1790 it once belonged to an ancestor of Mr Burnet.

Mr Burnet, a retired barrister, explained that the then general organizer of Scotland’s Gardens Scheme, Alice Maconochie, was a family friend and he asked her how he could get involved.

Ms Burnet said: “When you grow plants you want someone to admire them and visiting other gardens gives you ideas.”

Praising Scotland’s Gardens Scheme, she said: “It’s a very good initiative and I think a lot of people will enjoy it.”

The couple have opened their garden at Rose Court regularly as part of the gardening scheme, except for a decade when their home was occupied by tenants.

At the time, Mr and Mrs Burnet lived as tenants of the National Trust for Scotland at Inveresk Lodge – once the home of the Wedderburn family and also the family that owned Brunton Wireworks.

A book inspires

The stay inspired Ms Burnet to write a book called A Garden Diary about the Inveresk Lodge Garden which the couple managed from 1975 to 1979.

The garden is open to the public daily and is a feature of the garden plan.

Mr and Mrs Burnet highlighted the support of Patrick McNally from Wallyford who has been helping them in their own garden for around 40 years.

Although it is now closed to the public, work on the Rose Court continues with the restoration of an original rose garden and the planting of a pink rowanberry to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy tree planting initiative.

Liz Stewart, Chief Executive of Scotland’s Gardens Scheme, recognized Mr and Mrs Burnet’s longstanding support of the scheme.

She said: “I would like to thank George and Jane Burnet for their generosity, determination and much appreciated support over the years.

“We are grateful for their contribution to the program and the positive impact it has had on our and other charities since 1950.

“Villages opening as part of Scotland’s Gardens Scheme are some of our most popular garden openings and it is wonderful to think how many thousands of visitors must have enjoyed being welcomed to Mr and Mrs Burnet’s garden over the years to be called.”

East Lothian Courier: Morag and Rod Reeves' garden, now enjoyed by their grandchildren, with Rosecourt in the background

Morag and Rod Reeves’ garden, now enjoyed by their grandchildren, with Rose Court in the background

Speaking about her time with the open houses, Ms Reeves said she and her husband have “developed a tremendous respect for the dedicated people who have been open for decades”.

She added: “It was fun sharing the garden with others and we met a lot of interesting visitors; However, it took a lot of preparation and forward planning to make it look as good as possible.

“Since the last opening we have gained three grandchildren. This took more of our time and wear and tear on the garden so we decided against it this year.

“We will enjoy being able to visit the other open gardens.”

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