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Ascog Hall

Listed under Gardens in Scotland, United Kingdom.

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Photo by flickr user mzehrer
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Ascog Hall is an interesting building in the Scottish baronial style (turrets and arrow slit windows) ; the views of the Firth of Clyde are good and the climate equable. However, the real reason for going there lies in the garden - a recently rescued, almost unique, glass roofed Victorian fernery. It was originally built when such things were fashionable by a wealthy Glasgow draper called Alexander Bannatyne Stewart but after his death the grandeur faded and the house suffered from neglect. As a result the fernery was forgotten and consumed by undergrowth by the time the current owners stumbled upon it (literally) in 1990. After clearing the accumulated rubbish of the years the basic framework of mosaic paths and sandstone walls became visible but it was not until they came across a copy of the Gardeners’ Chronicle (dated 1879) which contained a detailed description of the place and (even more importantly) a complete inventory of all the ferns that they knew exactly what they had found.

The Fyffes were eventually able to erect a new roof (identical in every way to the original) and the possibility of restoring the structure to its former glory became reality. Amazingly one fern (a thousand year old Todea barbara) had survived and, with the help of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh the rest of the Fernery was fully stocked. Around this extraordinary enterprise the Fyfes are renovating the rest of the gardens.

Originally designed by Edward La Trobe Bateman - who was responsible for part of the Melbourne Botanic Gardens - it too was covered in brambles. Now there are new plantings alongside the original paths, a rose garden and a brand new gravel garden. This garden is a tribute to the energy and enthusiasm of the owners. They have created a totally unique and magical garden where once there was rank decay and bewildering undergrowth.

Written by  James Alexander-Sinclair.

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