HORTICULTURAL stalwarts at Inveresk have decided the time has come for them to bid farewell to participation in Scotland’s Gardens Scheme, after six decades of loyal service.

George and Jane Burnet have opened their historic garden at Rose Court to the public for more than 60 years, since the debut event following an official visit to Inveresk by the Earl of Wemyss and March, Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

And Morag and Rod Reeves, who have welcomed visitors to their garden at 29 Inveresk Village on the last three garden openings, are opting out of the scheme, due to take place next Saturday and Sunday (June 18 and 19), after becoming grandparents.

The first Inveresk scheme, in 1959, saw four gardens opening to the public: Rose Court, Catherine Lodge, Eskhill and Oak Lodge.

At that time, 40 per cent of the proceeds divided between the Queen’s Institute, Gardens Fund of the National Trust for Scotland and the Inveresk Preservation Society, which had just been formed.

Since then, Mr and Mrs Burnet, along with other green-fingered residents in the conservation village, have helped raise thousands of pounds for different charities over the years, with the total rising from £133 in 1962 to £5,044 in 2016.

East Lothian Courier: The familiar yellow posters which were used to advertise Scotland’s Gardens Scheme

The familiar yellow posters which were used to advertise Scotland’s Gardens Scheme

Mrs Burnet said: “We were all very excited about the first garden opening because it hadn’t happened before. The gardens did all have one gardener each in those days.”

The couple moved into Rose Court in 1954; it had once been owned by an ancestor of Mr Burnet in 1790.

Mr Burnet, a retired lawyer, explained that the general organiser of Scotland’s Gardens Scheme at that time, Alice Maconochie, was a family friend and he asked her how to go about taking part.

Mrs Burnet said: “If you grow plants, you like someone to admire them and visiting other gardens gives you ideas.”

She praised Scotland’s Gardens Scheme, saying: “It is a very good initiative and I think it gives a lot of people a lot of pleasure.”

The couple have regularly opened their garden at Rose Court as part of the gardens scheme, except for a decade when their house was occupied by tenants.

At that time, Mr and Mrs Burnet lived as tenants of the National Trust for Scotland at Inveresk Lodge – once the home of the Wedderburn family and also the family who owned Brunton Wireworks.

Inspired a book

The stay inspired Mrs Burnet to write a book, A Garden Diary, about Inveresk Lodge Garden, which the couple managed from 1975 to 1979.

The garden is open to the public on a daily basis and is a feature of the gardens scheme.

Mr and Mrs Burnet highlighted the support of Patrick McNally, from Wallyford, who has helped them in their own garden for about 40 years.

Although now no longer opening to the public, work goes on at Rose Court, with the reinstatement of an original rose garden and the planting of a pink rowan tree to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy tree-planting initiative.

Liz Stewart, chief executive of Scotland’s Gardens Scheme, paid tribute to Mr and Mrs Burnet’s long standing support for the scheme.

She said: “I would like to thank George and Jane Burnet for their generosity, determination and greatly valued support over the years.

“We are grateful for their contribution to the scheme and the positive impact it has had on our and other charities since 1950.

“Villages that open as part of Scotland’s Gardens Scheme are among our most-loved garden openings and it is wonderful to reflect on how many thousands of visitors must have enjoyed being welcomed into Mr and Mrs Burnet’s garden over the years.”

East Lothian Courier: Morag and Rod Reeves' garden, which is now being enjoyed by their grandchildren, with Rosecourt in the background

Morag and Rod Reeves' garden, which is now being enjoyed by their grandchildren, with Rose Court in the background

Speaking about their time involved with the open days, Mrs Reeves said that she and her husband “developed an enormous respect for the dedicated people who have opened for decades”.

She added: “It was fun to share the garden with others and we met lots of interesting visitors; however, it did involve a lot of preparation and forward planning to make it look its best.

“Since last opening, we have acquired three grandchildren. This has put more demands on our time, and wear and tear on the garden, so we have opted out this year.

“We will enjoy being able to visit the other open gardens.”