Parkhead House was built several hundred years ago as a thatched house. At some stage, the thatch caught fire and what remained was rebuilt as the bungalow we see today.
In the 1930s, it was run as a 16-acre farm by the Baker Family. In 1950, it was sold for £2,500 to the Gray Family. When we purchased it in 1982, only one acre remained as they had slowly sold off the land for building plots.
The garden was not very well stocked with plants but there were several beautiful trees including Spanish Chestnuts, a Horse Chestnut (which sadly had to be taken down in 2010), a Walnut, a vast Holly hedge and Beech hedges.
It has taken me 30 years to develop the garden with many changes along the way. I have added trees, shrubs and plants to create a ‘Garden for All Seasons’.
There was never a ‘grand plan’, I just enlarged the existing borders and created new ones as I acquired more plants or as new ideas occurred to me. This has evolved into various meandering paths with secluded corners, each area with its own treasures to seek out.
In November 2011, I was awarded the status of National Plant Collection for The Mylnefield Lilies. I started to collect these rare Hybrid Lilies in 2008 after I discovered that they had been developed near Dundee, Scotland.
Dr Christopher North worked from 1966 to the mid-1970s developing his lilies, known as Mylnefield Lilies, at the then called Scottish Crop Research Institute at Invergowrie. His pioneering work in the use of embryo culture led him to grow many unusual and unique lily hybrids.
Dr North’s work inspired many in the field of lily breeding and L.’Ariadne’, one of his lilies, is still used as a parent plant. He had hopes that they would be of commercial use but they never succeeded. Some small nurseries did sell them but only on a small scale. The R.H.S. Lily group have championed their cause over the years with many of the cultivars being grown. However, they can be difficult to obtain and some have not proved to be as hardy as Dr North had bred them to be. The North American Lily Society is also a fan of North Hybrids.
I have just been able to purchase L.’Iona’ (Iona North) from The Lily Garden in Vancouver, and several ‘Children’ of L.’Ariadne’.
I am still looking for three of the missing cultivars and I live in hope of completing Dr North’s collection but then I never believed that it was possible to get together the ones I have.
The best time to see the lilies in flower is from early July onwards.