When Lord Lothian’s ancestors stumbled upon this glorious spot in the Scottish Borders, perched high above a graceful curve in the River Teviot, they decided to put down roots. That was 300 years ago. Today, Monteviot House, just outside Jedburgh, is still a family home – and a charming architectural hotchpotch that has evolved over the centuries into its present rambling form. The house is only open to the public for a month or so each year, but you can mooch around the tranquil gardens from Easter until the end of October.
A scribbled note at the entrance gate (more picket than turnstile) next to a greenhouse full of begonias, invites you in. One of the gardeners, it reassures, will find you as you wander around to take your money – make sure you have cash with you, as there are no card machines in their wheelbarrows. It’s all quirkily low-key.
The grounds roll out over 30 acres of formal gardens and shady woodland, divided into a series of ‘rooms’: the Herb Garden, Rose Garden, oriental-style Water Garden, Dene Garden and the River Garden. There is also an impressive arboretum and Laburnum tunnel.
Monteviot House, dripping in wisteria, climbing roses and clematis, is surrounded by elegant lawns and terraces: a boxwood parterre is filled with sweetly scented herbs and, down a series of sandstone steps, there’s the formal rose garden.
From the turreted viewpoint you can gaze out over the River Garden tumbling down to the Teviot as it snakes through fields and tree-pricked parkland beyond.
The River Garden was created by garden designer Percy Cane in the 1960s and then extended to the river and a stone-stepped landing stage, framed by two weeping willows. The sloping lawns are sprinkled with beds of herbaceous perennials and shrubs: acers, agapanthus, peonies, hostas and phlox. It’s an informal tangle of summery colour – topped off with a cheery Michaelmas daisy show come October.
Strolling on to the oriental water garden, created by the present Lord Lothian in 1988 from a spring-fed bog, you’ll find elegant arched wooden bridges connecting a handful of lushly planted islands. A woodland walk peppered with Japanese azaleas and Tasmanian tree ferns leads you to the arboretum with its impressive collection of variegated beech, Spanish chestnut and Douglas fir.
Finish with a meander around Dene Garden, a series of ponds and bridges, walkways and dams, climbing to an elevated walkway from where you can look out over the arboretum to the river.
HOW TO GET THERE
Monteviot House is on the B6400, two miles from the A68 near Jedburgh.
FIND OUT MORE
Monteviot House Garden
Open 1 Apr-31 Oct, 12-5pm. Adults £3.50, under-16s free.
Harestanes Visitor Centre
Ancrum TD8 6UQ
This lovely old courtyard conversion just down the lane from Monteviot has a design shop, exhibition space, visitor centre and tearoom. Try the courgette and pineapple cake.
New Belses Farm B&B
Ancrum, Jedburgh, TD8 6UR
Once owned by Lord Lothian, this gorgeous old Georgian farmhouse has just two rooms – one double, one twin.
Continue south along the A68 to Jedburgh, the pretty Borders market town and royal burgh, dominated by a 12th-century Augustinian abbey.
This 1,000 year-old oak is thought to be one of the last survivors of the ancient Jed Forest. You’ll find it 2 miles south of Jedburgh, west of the A68.