A celebrated walled garden which once provided fruit and vegetables for the Royal family is the jewel in the crown of this week’s spectacular Hot Property.
Parkhead, in Rosneath near Helensburgh, is a quirky, fascinating home almost completely rebuilt by the current owners, who bought the property almost 40 years ago.
The curved house was built for gardeners and their families in the 18th century – it is believed to date back to around 1750 – and it was extended by the well-known architect Robert Mylne.
Parkhead was the former production garden for nearby Rosneath Castle, the home of Princess Louise, daughter of Queen Victoria and the Dowager Duchess of Argyll, who lived there until her death in 1939.
The story goes that fruits from the garden were once taken by ferry over Gare Loch and sent by train to Kensington Palace in London where they were eaten the next day.
When Ian and Susan McKellar bought the house in 1970, it was almost derelict and the garden was empty.
But the couple were entranced by the romance of this once-beautiful spot and, through a real "labour of love" over many years, set about transforming the house and restoring the grounds, turning the abandoned space into one of the UK’s most admired gardens.
Working from an old map from the 1930s, they have created an interesting family home, well laid-out to meet the demands of modern living, but with a real sense of the history and heritage of the original property.Over the years, Parkhead has welcomed hundreds of visitors on occasional open days and been featured in glossy magazines and newspapers, testament to the hard work and skill of architect Ian, who is originally from Glasgow.
The grounds comprise around seven acres of policy woodland and parkland, including the beautiful walled garden and a separate walled enclosure for fruit and vegetables.
The fine topiary garden, created almost entirely and singlehandedly from scratch by Ian, who admits he is "obsessed with symmetry, level, balance, height and proportion", is a masterpiece of precision, with three connecting yew circles each bisected by a horizontal path and planted in a different theme.
The inspiration, says Ian, came from a variety of great Scottish gardens such as Drummond, Earlshall and Kellie Castles, and French and Italian garden design, with the formal gardens of Tuscany a particular passion.
A wonderful variety of box and fruit trees, plants and flowers, fill each circle, with a round pond and fountain at the centre. From the daffodils and cowslips of spring to the changing colours of summer and autumn in the borders and the frosted topiary of winter, there is always something to admire.
If you can draw your eyes away from Parkhead’s stunning grounds, the house itself is equally remarkable.
Largely rebuilt by the McKellars, it is now a flexible family home over three levels. Many of the internal architectural features, including some of the fireplaces, are not original but have been reclaimed from a local Victorian mansion which was demolished.
Its distinctive shape and quirky interior allow it to stand out from other Scottish country homes of the period.
Inside, a reception hallway leads to the grand main hallway, with double height ceiling and impressive staircase, and on to a study, cloakroom and the fine drawing room.
This is an elegant space, with French doors leading out into the walled garden.
A charming, cosy morning room with an open fire and boiler set into a pretty painted Georgian fireplace and a separate dining room, also with doors into the garden and a rare marble fireplace, lie off the drawing room.
The dining room, with its tiled floor and natural light, is stylish and modern, perfect for family gatherings or relaxing with friends.
The ground floor also includes a handy home office, wine cellar and kitchen, which leads into a back lobby, triple garage, workshop and laundry.
The kitchen is fantastic, with contemporary units and bright décor giving a sense of space and light.
Stairs from the back lobby lead up to two spacious bedrooms and a bathroom, plus the stunning art gallery and studio space.
A first floor landing leads from the gallery to a bedroom and bathroom which combine to create a useful guest suite.
There is a further bedroom, or gallery space, contemporary shower room, sitting room and kitchen space with fitted units and pantry – all of which combine to create a granny flat.
A lovely, bright master bedroom with an en-suite shower room, completes the accommodation on the first floor and the second floor includes two further bedrooms and a shower room.
Part of Parkhead’s appeal is its location. The village of Rosneath lies on the western shores of Gare Loch, surrounded by some of Scotland’s most picturesque scenery.
Well-regarded primary and secondary schools, plus a great selection of shops and plenty of recreational facilities, lie close by.
Nearby Garelochhead, which is just over four miles away, provides a further range of amenities and its railway station offers regular services to Glasgow and beyond.
It is obvious this week’s Hot Property has a lot to offer potential buyers.
Whether potential owners are families looking for space and room to grow; commuters keen to take advantage of the property’s excellent location; or even horticulturalists, completely enthralled and inspired by
the beauty of Parkhead and its wonderful garden grounds.