The Japanese Garden at Cowden

Upper Hillfoot Road, Dollar, Clackmannanshire, FK14 7PL

The Japanese Garden was established by Ella Christie of Cowden Castle. At the turn of the last century, she returned from an expedition to the Orient inspired by her tours of the magnificent gardens. As might be expected from one of the first western women to visit Khiva and Samarkand and to meet the Dalai Lama, Ella’s approach to developing the garden was trailblazing. She chose a female designer – the gifted Taki Handa – to create the seven-acre site, 30 miles north-west of Edinburgh. It is the first and only one of such scale to be accredited to a woman and it remains a unique, authentic bridge between Scottish and Japanese culture.

In 1925, it was described by Professor Jijo Suzuki, 18th hereditary head of the Soami School, as ‘The most important Japanese Garden in the Western World’.

Vandalised in the 1960s, the garden was inherited by Ella’s great nephew, Sir Robert Stewart, and passed onto his daughter, Sara, in 2008. It has now been brought back to life by Professor Masao Fukuhara, best known for winning the Gold Medal at the Chelsea Flower Show and for the restoration of the Japanese gardens at Kew and Tatton.

Cowden has been managed by a charity since 2014. Although still fundraising to upgrade the paths and install the remaining structures, there is plenty to see at Cowden including the two new bridges, the dry garden, original and new planting as well as the antique stone lanterns. There is also a new 30-minute woodland walk to the site of the old weir and garden tours on selected days. The tea room serves home baking during the garden’s opening hours.

Cowden will close on 3rd November, but the tea room and woodland walk will remain open until 21st December 2019.



Telephone: 07570614763

Opening times: 10.30am – 5.00pm (last entry 4.15pm). Wednesday - Sunday

Admission costs: Adult: £6, Youth (16-24) and Senior Citizens (over 65): £5.50, Children (5-15), £4. Disabled and primary carer: free.

Garden of the Week is in association with Discover Scottish Gardens. For more information, advice and day-out ideas, visit