Rosshall Rock Garden Restoration

James Cowan decided in the late 19th century to create a garden of exceptional beauty and interest regardless of cost. This task was entrusted to the famous landscaping firm of Pulham and Son. The Pulham family became renowned for creating a wide range of artificial landscapes from small, exquisitely planted rockeries and ferneries to grottos and temples, from elaborate water gardens, complete with chasms and cascades. These fashionable bespoke landscapes brought together many of the hallmarks of 19th century garden design, including the interplay of landscaping, botany and geology engineering and architecture. Collectively they gave tangible form to the Victorian passions for travel, for collecting plants and gardening. The Pulhams used both artificial and natural rocks. Common to all their work was proprietary cement with a striking resemblance in colour and durability to natural stone, and which came to be known as Pulhamite.

During 1890-92 Pulham and Son proceeded to construct a remarkable vista of lakes and waterfalls, grottos and rock gardens, subterranean boat house and cyclopean paths which became renowned throughout the country. The rock garden was
listed Category ‘B’ status in November 2001 by Historic Scotland and as such represents one of the finest examples of Pulham and Sons work in Scotland.  They were also responsible for the creation of elaborate rock gardens throughout the UK including the grandiose rock gardens of Battersea Park, Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the Royal Horticultural Society Headquarters at Wisely.

Work began restoring the ‘Pulhamite’ rock work in Rosshall Gardens, on the 2nd August 2010.


The rock garden at Rosshall was constructed during 1890-1892.  It combines natural stone and artificial stone components made out of Pulhamite, authentically sculpted concrete almost indistinguishable from real geological structures.  The stonework in the gardens and grotto was specially manufactured and imported to Rosshall. The rockwork features are extremely complex and represent the best qualities of Pulham & Son’s work and is therefore of national importance.

The restoration work was carried out by Themeworks Ltd, a conservation specialist company who have considerable experience with this type of work.  Their work includes restoring Pulham sites at Waddesdon Manor, Battersea Park and Buckingham Palace.  This Land & Environmental Services restoration project was supported by the Glasgow City Heritage Trust.

The restoration work to the rockwork was completed on the 15th September 2010.

Please be aware that the sandstone paths are uneven and slippery.  Suitable footwear should be worn, and it is advised that the more remote areas of the garden particularly around the grotto are visited during drier weather conditions.

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