Colin McBeath's garden at Ladies Lake

Exposed Scottish garden on the coast at Ladies Lake

This rugged garden has expert planting situated between a modern house and the sea

Colin McBeath’s garden at Ladies Lake is an innovatively planted coastal garden at St Andrews, Fife. Measuring 2,100 square metres, it has sandy loam which is in places very shallow. The climate is mild for the latitude, but lashed by brutal salt winds with a hardiness zone of USDA 8a. The house takes its name from the old tidal bathing pools that lie below the cliffs and it sits comfortably alongside the ruins of St Andrews Castle thanks to the careful planting. Words: Rory Dusoir

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Colin McBeath's garden at Ladies Lake
© Claire Takacs

Stone walls, built by WL Watson & Sons, help to create transitional layers and blend beautifully with the existing boundary wall. On the uppermost layer Perovskia atriplicifolia and Anemanthele lessoniana bear the full force of the savage easterly winds with perfect grace.

The passage through the garden gate feels like a portal to a different dimension
Colin McBeath's garden at Ladies Lake
© Claire Takacs

The house was designed to minimise its visual impact to the south, while taking full advantage of views over the Firth of Tay. Here low-lying stone walls and gravel paths divide a tapestry of  planting with the bushy shrub Olearia x haastii and Phlomis russeliana in the foreground.

Colin McBeath's garden at Ladies Lake
© Claire Takacs

Planting in the Secret Garden offers a pleasing variety of form, texture and colour with the bronze foliage of Anemanthele lessoniana and transparent Stipa gigantea alongside blue flowers of Perovskia atriplicifolia.

Colin McBeath's garden at Ladies Lake
© Claire Takacs
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A raised rill offers a sense of calm to the Front Mosaic Garden, its smooth lines creating a contrast to the ruggedness of the coastal pools along the Firth of Tay. Surrounding it, the structural silhouettes of Phlomis russeliana draw your eye around the planting, Achillea filipendulina ‘Gold Plate’ contrasts in colour and form with upright Perovskia atriplicifolia and Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’, with the evergreen grass Stipa tenuissima mingling throughout.