Our Horticulture programme is centred around the growing we do here at Hospitalfield on the grounds and in the newly redesigned Walled Gardens and restored Fernery. We host a programme of talks, walks and workshops around the themes arising. Our regular Garden Club come together weekly to undertake tasks in the Garden and to participate in horticultural skills training such as willow weaving and coppicing.

Our current Autumn Talks programme invites experts to discuss ferns, garden history, decolonisation of the garden and working in the community, and the importance and culture around heritage seeds, potatoes and apples. Find out more

The Head Gardener Kate Robinson leads on our horticultural activities with the support of the Groundskeeper Garry Pearson.

Gardens & Fernery

The distinctive double Walled Garden at Hospitalfield has been redesigned by garden designer Nigel Dunnett. The gardens opened to visitors for the first time on 27 May 2021. The scheme was developed to reveal the unique horticultural history of the site at Hospitalfield, which has been tended as a garden for over 800 years. Visit and you can expect to learn more about the medicinal planting of the medieval monastic gardeners and to understand the form and function of the Victorian approach to horticulture, all within a glorious new planting scheme.

The Fernery at Hospitalfield was designed in 1872 by Patrick Allan-Fraser as a grotto-like building intended to house a collection of New Zealand tree ferns that were presented to him by Captain Peter Logan. The building fell into ruinous disrepair during the mid-20th-century, and has now become part of an exciting new chapter for the Walled Garden, sensitively restored to its former glory under the guidance of architects Caruso St John. It has been replanted with the varieties of ferns likely to have been in the original, including a number of tree ferns. This is the only surviving Fernery on the east coast of Scotland, and one of only four buildings of this type in Scotland.

‘’My aim for the design at Hospitalfield is to create a framework for exploration and discovery of the diverse histories and productive and symbolic uses of plants over the 800 years of the gardens’ existence, from their Medieval monastic origins through to the heights of Victorian exotica.’’

– Nigel Dunnett, Garden Designer

“This is our first project in Scotland, and it has been an interesting challenge working with the materials and details of the Arts and Crafts architecture, to make additions that feel like a renewal, and more than a restoration. The first part of the project includes the rebuilding of the fernery in the corner of the garden, with a new glass roof above the old stone walls, with their grottoes and galleries. It is a small but spectacular building that will add something really distinctive to the site.” 

– Peter St John of Caruso St John Architects

Images by photographer Ruth Clark 2021

Planting the Walled Garden

In September 2020 over 30 volunteers with horticulturalist Nigel Dunnett and landscape architect Ed Payne planted over 7000 plants for the new Garden inspired by Hospitalfield’s 800 year garden history.