Last week, a fat envelope plopped onto our doormat. (Am I the only one who still adores post?) I tore open the white cover and inside were two National Trust for Scotland membership cards and a guidebook showing the Trust sites which — for a travel addict — felt rather like Christmas! Since then, B and I had been plotting where exactly we were going to go and decided, wisely for his crumbling car, to choose sites close to Edinburgh city itself.
Inveresk Lodge Garden is tucked behind bright walls in the quiet and quaint little village of Inveresk, just outside Musselburgh. It took us just 20 minutes to reach the deserted streets from the city centre and — stepping out the car — we felt like we were surrounded by countryside. Following the garden door into a small courtyard, the walls then dissolved and before us lay a perfect lawn, a thick line of lavender and the loveliest greenhouse you ever did see. It was as if we’d stumbled from smoky Leith into the car, and had suddenly arrived at this hidden botanical haven.
The history of this place is rather mysterious. Although much is known about the neighbouring seventeenth-century Lodge — and the family that owned it — little is known about the garden’s origins. What the NTS do know is that the current grounds were designed in the nineteenth century, before Helen Brunton passed the estate to the Trust in 1959. Whatever secrets the soil holds only makes this place more magical; an organic oasis in our modern world of beeping phones and constant communication.
There are many sections to Inveresk Lodge Garden, but the stand-out feature has to be the beautiful conservatory. Running along the east wall, this glasshouse is packed with vibrant colours, not only from the plants but also from the birds. That’s right, there’s an aviary! I could imagine bringing a flask of iced tea, sitting in the armchairs and just enjoying the birdsong in the glasshouse heat. Talk about a magical addition to an already perfect place!
After eating a picnic on one of the many benches in the grounds, we continued walking. Like a miniature botanic chessboard, every move brought us to a different border: shrub roses, herbs, and then on to the ponds.
Surrounded by tall grasses that floated in the winds, the water was home to a few ducks when we visited (although apparently geese and herons regularly drop in). There’s a longer circuit you can follow around the grasses and back by the blossom trees, taking in every corner of this beautiful place.
Inveresk Lodge Garden really is a gem. And one of the winning things about this place? It’s barely half an hour from Edinburgh centre. If a quick escape from the city is what you need, this place should be at the top of your list. All you need to do is prepare a picnic, take your sunglasses and breathe deeply.