Carolside House


Scottish Borders TD4 6AL

June is the month when roses take centre-stage and nowhere do they bloom more brightly than at Carolside in the Borders.

Set behind an elegant Georgian mansion, overlooking the River Leader, is an elliptical walled garden dedicated to its creator, Rose Foyle’s favourite flower.

Rose Foyle’s obsession with her namesake blooms began in childhood, when she fell in love with the roses that grew in her grandmother’s garden in Ireland, and it has flowered here into Scotland’s most romantic garden.

The roses at Carolside tumble from heavy rope swags, they climb the walls and spill from the borders, where they mingle in cottage-garden profusion with lady’s mantle, sweet peas, artichokes and strawberries.

Despite being in a heavy frost pocket, the roses are strong and healthy and they thrive on the free-draining soil thanks to regular applications of compost which gives them the richness and nutrients that they need.

Carolside has been described as “one of the best gardens in Scotland”, with herbaceous borders, towering spikes of bright blue delphiniums and a winter border for seasonal interest during the colder months.

At the far end of the garden is a range of heritage greenhouses, filled with pelargoniums and other hot-house plants, while the lawn close to the house, where teas are served on special open days, is edged with tall grasses.

A garden this densely-planted demands intensive weeding and deadheading during the summer, but for Foyle this is a labour of love and she is constantly refining the plant combinations, introducing new roses and adding an understory of frothy perennials that harmonise with the predominantly white and pink colour scheme.

Meanwhile the high walls that surround the garden help to capture the scent of its flowers, so that walking through the gates on warm days, visitors are overwhelmed by an intense and heady perfume of roses.

Outside of the walled garden, the mood is more restrained, with a herb garden, smooth lawns and clipped box hedging, while the wooded slopes that surround the house create a natural amphitheatre.

Gallica Charms

Carolside is home to a Plant Heritage National Collection of pre-1900 Gallica roses. These “French” roses are actually native to Turkey and the group includes the Apothecary’s rose ‘Rosa gallica Officionalis’ and the pink striped Rosa mundi, or ‘Versicolour’.

Gallicas flower just once a year, but they are highly perfumed and have a charming simplicity compared to highly-bred modern varieties.

They were the favourite flower of that other rose lover, the Empress Josephine, who cultivated them at Malmaison near Paris.

Social Climber

One of the most prolific roses to grow in the garden is the exuberant rambler ‘Paul’s Himalayan Musk’, smothering walls in sprays of tiny pink flowers that give off a strong musky fragrance.

This is a rambler for a large garden as its wayward tendrils can stretch up to 12 metres in length and so it needs a very sturdy support, such as a large tree.

Perfect Companions

The delphiniums which Foyle grows as a backdrop in the garden are from specialist nursery, Blackmore & Langdon in Bristol, who have been breeding them since 1901.

Her favourite choice for underplanting is Campanula persicifolia ‘Cornish Mist’, which has sky blue flowers that perfectly offset the pinks and whites of the roses.


Carolside is open on Saturdays and Sundays until August 1, 11am-5pm.

(Closed, Saturday July 8.)

Tickets: £6 (£12 when open for groups by arrangement, with introductory talk).

Tel: 01896 849272

Carolside is 35 miles from Edinburgh, one mile north of Earlston on the A68.