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An interview with Toby Subiotto, Head Gardener at Winton House

Winton House’s Spring Open Day is on Sunday 11th April 12.30-4.30pm. Join them for falconry displays, home made teas, house tours and to enjoy the gardens.

Winton House, well known as a hospitality and exclusive use venue, with its sweeping drives, lawns, walled garden, wild Loch and terraced gardens, is currently in the third year of an ambitious six year replanting plan.

The historical, terraced gardens at Winton House were built in the mid nineteenth century, when this was a pioneering Victorian landscaping innovation. Prior to that, like other great houses, growing vegetables, fruit and flowers for the Winton community took place in the geometric, seventeenth century, Italianate walled garden. It had heated walls so that exotic fruits like peaches and melons could be grown in the glass houses for Winton’s guests. There was no wall on the south side, allowing uninterrupted views along an avenue of trees from the House. You can still see a recess for a ‘beebole’ where bee hives would have been.

There is a sheltered croquet lawn, which was previously a tennis court, beside the House. The lawn was dug up during the Second World War to grow potatoes.

Winton’s Head Gardener, Toby Subiotto, who learnt his art at Kew Gardens, describes the plan:

“Winton’s gardens were once described as one of the finest gardens in Scotland, and we aspire to restore some of that ambition.

“Wall-trained apple, plum and cherry trees have been retained in the walled garden. The borders are being developed into mixed herbaceous borders with traditional shrubs and a range of climbing plants on the walls.

“With some help from a Scotland’s Garden Scheme award (for Winton being Scotland’s longest continuously open garden), a winter garden is planned outside the west wall.

“We’ve had to deal with bind weed and ground elder in the three tier, Victorian terraced garden. The original structure is now being reinstated with distinct areas, each with its own character. We’re keeping some notable wall-trained shrubs, including a Ginko, Magnolia and old climbing roses. The borders have been widened and are being restocked with tender shrubs, flowers and herbaceous plants so that there’s colour throughout the year.”

The middle terrace is designed for walking, relaxing and enjoying.  The lower terrace, with its topiary and quiet ambience, looks out over a private lawn enclosed by a beech hedge with the wilder Sir David’s Loch beyond.

Many of Winton’s new plants are being propagated from seeds, divisions and cuttings in a large polytunnel and glasshouse. In keeping with Winton House’s corporate responsibility policy, chemicals are only used for weeds on the paths.