In keeping with tradition, our Secret Garden is tucked away in the depths of the Ornamental Gardens. Just walking along the main paths, you wouldn't even know it was there. It is only accessible by going through the Seaside Garden or the Courtyard Garden.

George Anderson uses this area to try out different plant combinations. He really loves the play of one type of foliage against another - finding the right combination can bring out the best features of plants and can give a rich, tapestry effect to a garden.

With the Secret Garden being so sheltered, it also gives George the opportunity to try out some more tender plants. He especially likes those from New Zealand and Chile. Southern hemisphere plants can do really well if given the correct conditions, even in NE Scotland.

Below George shares some of his favourite plant combinations:

Pachysandra terminalis, Crocosmia sp. and Alstromeria sp
The Alstromeria was in the garden when I took it over and rather than remove it, I planted over it with Pachysandra to create a blanket through which it would grow. Through this I also planted some Crocosmia (a yellow one if I recall correctly) and created a tapestry effect with the bold foliage of the Pachysandra covering the ground and then the two 'thugs' of Alstromeria and Crocosmia growing through them. All that is needed over the season is five or ten minutes set aside to pull out the superfluous Alstromeria and Crocosmia. Even when the plants are not in flower the effect of one foliage against another is a joy to see.

Festuca eskia, Juniperus conferta and Wild Strawberry
In the centre of the Secret Garden is a mixed tapestry planting of dwarf juniper, wild strawberries and a dwarf grass. The grass (festuca eskia) provides the backdrop/groundcover over which the Juniperus conferta will spread and provides a good contrast of foliage forms; introducing wild strawberries into the scheme gives a new dimension. The strawberry foliage is wonderfully fragrant and in the warm late spring sunshine and summer sun it gives off a tantalising warm strawberry scent. The flowers and fruit are an added bonus. For further interest, try underplanting the grass with bulbs of your choice and you have a three layered planting that will look after itself for 10 years. That is long enough and by then fashions will have changed and it will be time to replant.

Calamagrostis and Aconitum
In 2007, I introduced a selection of grasses (Calamagrostis ) and Monkshoods (Aconitum) to the centre bed of the garden to try to provide some colour and interest later in the season. I look forward to seeing if it has been a success or not.

Some of George's favourite southern hemisphere plants include:

Corokia cheesmanii - this shrub is best known for its zig zag branching habit. It also has a great contrast between the dark stems, dark leaves and bright yellow flowers.
Dianella tasmanica - a clump forming perennial that produces fantastic purple berries after flowering.
Billardiera longifolia
Libertia peregrina
Eucalyptus sp. - in general, these plants add sound and scent to the garden. Species such as E. pauciflora sub species niphophylla with its wonderfully mottled bark or E. pulverulenta with its white encrusted shoots are particularly lovely. Beechgrove is a severe testing ground for these plants and if they manage to survive there then most of the viewers have a chance of them succeeding in their own garden.