History of Wemyss Castle Gardens
There is little record of much development of the Estate prior to the 17th Century, but in these grim times of feuding and quest for personal power Wemyss Castle remained a defensive building with little acknowledgement to the need for external frivolity.
However by the late 17th century with increasing peace in the country and at Wemyss new wealth founded on coal and salt the family extended their home and laid the beginnings of a designed landscape with formal enclosed gardens and wooded parkland, these recorded in a landscape painting by the Dutch artist van Sypen in 1695.
Subsequent Owners of Wemyss, many drawn away from their home as soldiers and sailors left further development in abeyance for much of the next 100 years that is until General Wemyss in 1790 employed Walter Nicol son of the Head Gardener at neighboring Raith Estate to improve his Walled Garden. Nicol set to with lavish plans for heated walls, pineapple and mushroom houses, and an avowed intent to provide stone fruit in almost every month of the year, the price of this attempt at oneupmanship was said to be over 100 tons of coal per annum, even to a CoalOwner this seemed excessive and Nicol was soon asked to find other employment, however for the remainder of his life he traded on the experiences gained at Wemyss in a succession of treatise on Gardening including “The Gardeners Kalendar” and “The Scotch Forcing Gardener”.
Through the 19th century A succession of Gardeners followed Nicol with the extent of ground under cultivation reaching a peak just prior to the First World War, post war privation constrained “gardening” to the provision of vegetables and increasing the extent of landscaping around the Castle, with the later addition of some small flower and shrub areas just enough to be kept by the restricted help available during the Second War. Post War the Gardens took second place to the renovation works being carried out on the Castle and by the time these were completed it was considered sufficient that the garden produce vegetables and cut flowers for the house but was not expected to be a showplace. With a dwindling workforce through the 60’s 70’s and 80’s the Walled Garden by 1994 was effectively redundant and in dire need of TLC.