Virtual Gardens Visit – The Rock Garden at Crichton, Dumfries

Jun 27, 2020

From a visit by Marion Shawcross, SGLH Board Member

Second in a series of virtual gardens visits to The Crichton Dumfries by Marion Shawcross.  We’d love to share your visits with SGLH members.  Therefore, please send photographs of gardens you have visited along with a short description (this doesn’t need to be more than three or four sentences) to website@sglh.org and we will upload these onto the SGLH news page.

The Crichton Royal Hospital, which opened in 1839, was a beacon of progressive treatment for people with mental health problems.  The first medical superintendent, Dr W A F Browne was a firm believer in the therapeutic value of gardens and gardening and along with Elizabeth Crichton, the hospital’s benefactor, designed and oversaw the extensive gardens, much of which survive today.

One notable area is the rock garden, the passion of Dr George Watt (1851 – 1930) a Scottish botanist, who, in 1918 on retiring as Professor of Botany at Calcutta University, joined the Hospital Board. He saw a great opportunity to pursue his interest in plant collecting and established a rock garden in the grounds.  He brought seeds and plants from India and liaised with the RBGE Regius Keeper to build up the collection. In 1923 he commissioned greenhouses from Mackenzie and Moncur for the propagation of flowers and plants.  By 1926 there were 100 acres of ornamental gardens.  The rock garden survives virtually unchanged. 

The hospital moved to new accommodation in 2012 and Crichton gardens are now managed by the Crichton Trust gardeners.  The gardens are usually open to the public. Check current situation here: https://www.crichton.co.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/