“The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies”

- Gertrude Jekyll


The garden at Kellie, admired by Gertrude Jekyll, blossomed from the companionship of Robert and Louise; brother and sister, architect and plantswoman. Embraced by a 400 year old wall, the ancient Gallic Roses whisper “something of the golden age,” according to Robert. As a designer, he strove to create “a garden that is in tune with the house, a garden that has a quite different charm from the park outside, a garden that is an intentional and deliberate piece of careful design, a place that is garnished and nurtured with the tenderest care.”

The family delighted in the garden at Kellie. John Henry especially loved Robert's pavilion “with old slates taken from some farm building - all of which looked about the same age as the castle” and the yew ‘garden within a garden.’ The yews at Earlshall were found in an abandoned Edinburgh garden; Robert promised £5 for each of them meaning that the collection of thirty-six amounted to a small fortune. Yet the  garden he created is invaluable, embodying the words of Shakespeare’s As You Like It, carved above a stone entrance: “Here shall ye see no enemy but winter and rough weather.”

Robert's son Hew was commissioned to do several garden sculptures, including The Flower Girl. Her serenity channels the healing beauty of the garden which Robert considered a “sanctuary,” “a chamber roofed by heaven,” quoting the novelist Ouida in his essay On Scottish Gardens for the Architectural Review (1899).

“In the garden something of the golden age still lingers; in the warm alleys where the bees hum above the lilies and the stocks, in the blue shadows where the azure butterflies look dark in the amber haze, where the lime leaves and the acacia flowers wave joyously as the west wind passes.” - Ouida



Hollyhocks at Kellie Castle, John Henry Lorimer, Kellie Castle, Photo: © The National Trust for Scotland

Foxglove (2009), Photo: © Charlotte Lorimer

Garden Pavilion, Kellie Castle, Robert Stodart Lorimer, Photo: Private Collection

Rose (2009), Photo: © Charlotte Lorimer

Earlshall Garden (1900), Robert Stodart Lorimer, Photo: Private Collection

Rose (2009), Photo: © Charlotte Lorimer

Flower Girl (1974), Hew Lorimer, Private Collection, Photo: Private Collection

“Some see nature all Ridicule and Deformity. Some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the Man of Imagination, Nature is Imagination itself.”
- William Blake

The Lorimers loved not only the garden but the creatures that lived within it. John Henry captured his niece and nephew Alison and Thomas Chalmers peering out from a high window at Kellie to feed the ducks, chickens and turkeys below.

Robert Lorimer’s curious monkeys which perch on the toolhouse at Earlshall swing over into the Refrewenshire trees at Formakin House and are poised in the woodwork of Ardkinglas and the Thistle Chapel, carved by the Clow Brothers and craftsmen of Nathaniel Grieve’s workshop. Birds also swoop through many of Robert’s designs, especially in his gates.

The Scottish National War Memorial remembers not only the sailors and soldiers who gave their lives, but declares “remember also the humble beasts that served and died.” The animal models of Phyllis Bone were carved by the craftsmen of Donaldson & Burns. Bone went on to do models of animals for the Zoology building for the University of Edinburgh, Robert’s last commission.


The Professor's Grandchildren (1890), John Henry Lorimer, On Loan to Kellie Castle, Photo: © The National Trust

for Scotland

Earlshall Window with Monkeys (1899), Robert Stodart Lorimer, Photo: © Antonia Reeve

Thistle Chapel Interior (1911), Designed by Robert Stodart Lorimer, Carved by William and Alexander Clow, Thistle Chapel, Edinburgh, Photo: © David Allan

Remember Also the Humble Beasts (1927), modelled by Phyllis Bone, carved by Donaldson & Burns,

Photo: © Antonia Reeve


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