In a mild corner of Fife on the east coast of Scotland sits a small estate named Wormistoune. The estate and tower house, which have their origins in the 12th century, are being restored by James and Gemma McCallum, who have been working on the project for two decades.
Photography by Christin Geall.
With such a long and rich history to draw from, the McCallums have chosen to pursue an 18th-century narrative to guide their work. Head gardener Katherine Taylor describes the aesthetic approach: “At that time the Laird (or owner) might have been on a Grand Tour to continental Europe, bringing back new ideas for his house and estate.”
The walled garden, at just under an acre, incorporates a number of smaller garden rooms separated by yew hedges. These include a parterre, herbaceous borders, shade gardens, pavilions, ponds, a small meadow and orchard. One moves through the garden as if stepping into scenes, moving from shade to sun, from formality to loose abundant plantings.
Two of the most impressive features of the garden are the pavilions set in the east corners of the walled garden. These ogee-roofed buildings were designed by Simpson & Brown Conservation Architects in 2005. Between the pavilions, a rill connects two ponds, which attract local newts, frogs, and damselflies.
Head gardener Taylor mixes perennials with occasional grasses but to loosen her borders, she also incorporates big bloomers such as peonies, dahlias, and roses. She explains, “I use roses and peonies to soften the plantings and make them more romantic and use dahlias to add a splash of late color.”
With the walled garden, pavilions, orchard, parterre, and potager nearing completion, the garden restoration has spilled over to the adjoining 12 acres of woodland. A nuttery and several hundred trees have recently been planted to secure the future of the woodlands.
Wormistoune is open on Tuesday afternoons in the summer through Scotland’s Gardens Scheme. The house and gardens will soon be available to rent for weddings and corporate events.
If you’re designing a garden or adding a hardscape feature, start with our curated Garden Design 101 guides, with ideas for Pavers, Decks & Patios, and Exteriors & Facades. See more inspiration from Scotland: