There are fifty-six acres of formal and informal gardens at Manderston. In the spring, the lawn in front of the house is studded with daffodils and beyond it is the gateway to the formal garden. Sir James Miller had the gates – brought from a house in London – gilded, to catch the light from the setting sun. A gate in the style of eighteenth-century architect James Gibbs and a portico of spiralled columns add to its grandeur.
On the south side of the house, Kinross designed four formal garden terraces still planted in Edwardian style. A geometric terrace is now stocked with floribunda roses and hostas. To one side is a small grass terrace, edged by four large stone vases. Below it, through a wrought-iron gate with griffins adorning the piers, is a tennis lawn, and below that, a croquet lawn. There is a stone dovecote on the far side by the elevated terrace provided for spectators.
The lower terraces are surrounded by a bank of rhododendrons down to the lake, smoothly achieving the transition from nineteenth-century formal gardens to eighteenth-century picturesque landscape. The lake, the shape of the landscape and the Chinese bridge, probably date from the time of the eighteenth-century house. The combination of formal and informal gardens at Manderston is unique in Scotland.
The boathouse was designed by Kinross for Sir James in 1894, before the stables, to celebrate his engagement to Eveline Curzon. On the further bank from the house is the Pheasantry Wood or, as it is now known, the Woodland Garden. This was developed by Major Bailie, Lord Palmer’s grandfather, from 1959 onwards, and contains many rare specimens of rhododendrons and azaleas. Towards the top of the hill are peat beds planted with no less than one hundred and eighty species including hybrid specie dwarf rhododendrons.
One feature from the old garden has been reintroduced; an ornamental Celtic-revival style seat, known as ‘the nineteenth hole’ usually a name reserved for the alehouse frequented by golfers who had successfully completed the previous eighteen.