The Garden Guide

Book: Gardening tours by J.C. Loudon 1831-1842
Chapter: Northern England and Southern Scotland in 1841

Culross Abbey

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Culross Abbey was the ancient seat of the Dundonald family, and the building, though in ruins, was held in much veneration by the country round, till it was almost entirely pulled down by the late Sir Robert Preston, who, however, made the amende by building the present abbey in an ancient style. The place is chiefly remarkable for a lime tree avenue, and a terrace walk bordered by a high wall of pear trees, and terminated by alcove seats. The lime trees are of great age; they stand 60 ft. apart in the row, and the avenue, or space between the rows, is 120 ft. The trees in each row are within a few feet of touching one another; but, as they do not touch, every individual tree shows its particular shape, all somewhat different, and yet in a general view all alike, so that this avenue is among the best open avenues which we have ever seen. All avenues in which the road is open to the sky ought, in our opinion, to have the rows of trees completely detached, even if there should be a few yards of daylight admitted between them. On the other hand, when the trees are allowed to touch and grow into one another, they ought also to grow over the road, and form a continuous arch, like the elm avenue at Christ Church, Oxford, or the lime tree avenues at Ampthill, and Woollaton Hall. An avenue, when the trees grow into one another without arching over the road, is lowered to the rank of a road between two lofty hedges. It is true, these hedges may be of flowering trees, like the avenue of horsechestnuts at Hampton Court; but how much more grand and beautiful would that avenue have been, had the trees been gradually thinned out or cut in, so as to leave only one third part of what there are at present. Some persons may allege that thinning out the trees would disfigure the avenue for a time; but, by fixing on the trees that are finally to remain when the avenue is planted, the others could be cut in as they advanced in growth, in such a manner as to maintain the avenue character throughout its whole progress to maturity. The terrace to which we have referred crowns a bank some hundreds of feet high above the Forth. There are a number of lower terraces, slopes, and platforms, of great antiquity, some with stone steps, balustrades, and vases, and among them some very old fruit trees; two large sweet chestnuts (5 ft. in diameter at 4 ft. from the ground) which ripen fruit every year, and from which large trees have been raised; five or six cedars, from 50 ft. to 70 ft. high, and 3 or 4 feet in diameter; two Eastern arbor-vitï¾µs, 25 ft. high; and many old yews. The parish church is close to the abbey, and might have been connected with it architecturally, so as to produce a good effect.