Falkland Palace

East Port, Falkland, Cupar KY15 7BY

Why should we visit

In a year when many of us are having to embrace staycations, it is satisfying to be able to visit the summer home of the Stuart dynasty and see how the royals holidayed in centuries past. It was James IV who first decided to spruce up this country property along the lines of Versailles, building on a site that had first been gardened in the 15th century.

Falkland Palace is one of the oldest gardens in Scotland, a place where kings and queens have walked amongst the flowers and trees. Many of the herbs grown in the Physic Garden today would have been familiar 500 years ago as sources of food and medicine and some of the apple trees that grow today in the historic orchard would have been varieties eaten at the time.

The walls surrounding the palace give warmth and shelter to a spectacular wisteria, which in late spring is heavy with fragrant, blue flowers. Climbing roses thrive too as does ceanothus, a native of California that enjoys the added warmth that the stone provides.

The further away you get from the palace the more relaxed the garden becomes and there are meadows filled with wild flowers and a living willow labyrinth that children love to explore, as well as many mature trees and thick shrubberies around the Maspie Burn that flows through the estate.

Story of the garden

Unpicking the the story of Falkland Palace gardens is a bit like trying to follow a single thread through one of the tapestries that hangs on the palace walls. What exists today is a patchwork of styles from many periods including the 20th century when society garden designer, Percy Cane, had a hand in its redesign.

In essence it is a Victorian reconstruction of a 17th century garden and there are bits and pieces from all eras to discover. It’s a fine reminder of the fact that gardens are works of art that change and evolve. At Falkland, that also involved going under the plough during two world wars when flowers gave way to potatoes.

The twin ponds with their surrounding of stone paving and clipped yews resemble something that you might see in the garden of a Home Counties mansion, but they somehow seem at home amongst the smooth green lawns and weathered stone walls that spread out from the palace.


Much of the landscape around the palace has been maintained as an elegant combination of smooth grass and topiary. It’s an unfussy but effective way of showing off both the palace and the gardens at their best and helps to make an impact on visitors. It’s a reminder that when it comes to creating an atmosphere, less is often more. However if you are visiting in June, don’t miss the recently-reinstated Peony Walk for some over-the-top exuberance.

Don’t miss

On Sunday, August 15, Festival Players International will be performing Shakespeare’s Henry V in the garden. There will be two hours of carousing, kingship, humour, love and fighting on the field of Agincourt. Bring a rug and a picnic and watch the action unfold amongst the green lawns and flowers. Tickets are available, priced £15/£12.

Anything Else To Look Out For

The real tennis court is the oldest functioning example of its kind in the UK. It’s not hard to imagine Mary Queen of Scots returning a serve here or berating the umpire over a line call. And pop into the Victorian glasshouses where pelargoniums, cacti and succulents bask in the warmth.

Best Time To Visit

In summer, when the 180m-long herbaceous border is performing at full tilt, the trees are in leaf and bees are buzzing in the meadow. It feel like the perfect time to lie on the grass, gaze up at the clouds and soak up Falkland’s tranquil atmosphere.

Any Recommendations in the Area?

Cairnie Fruit Farm at Cupar is an award-winning pick-your-own destination, with a cafe and outdoor activities for all the family. Visit in June when the strawberries are ripe.


The village of Falkland lies 11 miles south-west of Cupar. Leave the M90 at Kinross and take the A91 for 15 miles and then the A912 for a further 8 miles. Falkland is served by buses from Perth and Glenrothes.


The gardens are open 11am until 5pm from Wednesday-Sunday until October 31.

Entry is £6.50/£5. 01337 857397. www.nts.org.uk

In Association With Discover Scottish Gardens. See discoverscottishgardens.org

There are many beautiful gardens to visit in Fife so if you want to explore the area properly then why not stay in a B& B that itself is surrounded by beautiful gardens?

Greenhead of Arnot is a Fife farmhouse B&B that dates from about 1840 with additions in 2000 that have allowed owners Malcolm and Maggie Strang Steel to welcome guests.

The farmhouse is situated on the south slopes of the Lomond Hills in 590 acres of farmland and woodland, surrounding a 25-acre reservoir. These habitats provide a variety of bird life and they also provide enjoyable walks with magnificent views across the Firth of Forth.

The gardens are extensive and reach their peak in summer when roses scramble up the house and the huge herbaceous borders are filled with colour from osteospermum, perovskia and the many other flowers that flourish in this sunny position.

Clever design features, such as a gap in the formal hedges, allows the garden to extend out into the surrounding countryside where mature trees create focal points in the landscape.

Greenhead of Arnot, Greenhead Farm, Leslie, Glenrothes KY6 3JQ

Tel: 01592 840459

Email: enquiries@greenheadfarm.co.uk