The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 4: British Gardens (1100-1830)

Fifteenth century Scottish gardens

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602. In the middle of the fifteenth century, James III. is described by Pitscottie as 'delighting more in music and policic (probably from the French polir, to remove, level, or improve; or from a corruption of se polir, to improve one's self, levelling and smoothing the grounds about a house, being naturally the first step after it is built), and building, than he did in the government of his realm.' The general residence of this monarch was Stirling Castle; and a piece of waste surface in the vale below is said to have been the site of the royal gardens. Enough remains to justify a conjecture, that at this early period they displayed as much skill as those of any other country. We allude to a platform of earth resembling a table, surrounded by turf scats, or steps rising in gradation; the scene, no doubt, of rural festivities. The intimate connection which subsisted about this time between the Scots and the French, would, no doubt, render whatever was fashionable in one country, fashionable in the other. Accordingly, we find, not only the French style of gardening and architecture to have prevailed in Scotland at this period, and for two centuries later; but French furnishing and cookery, French manners, and, in the language, the adoption of a number of French words and idioms.