Balbithan House, listed category A, was originally built c.1560 as a keep with a round tower in the north-west corner. It was added to in c.1600 and again some thirty years later. Between 1760 and 1860 the interior was altered. Extensive restoration work has been carried out since 1960 with the aid of grants from the Historic Buildings Council.
The Garden Walls extend to the east of the house; this east wall has been rebuilt since 1960. The sundial, in the garden to the south-east of the house was constructed in the early 1960s on a millstone base.
The woodlands enclose the gardens on all sides and provide shelter, particularly from the prevailing easterly winds. To the north and south are conifer shelterbelts many of which have been planted since 1960. To the east, beyond the garden, is a plantation of beech and hornbeam. To the south-west of the house, beyond the lawn, are deciduous (beech) and coniferous woods, with some beech trees dating from c.1840.
The only historical record of the gardens is a letter of 1841 in which Mr Benjamin Abernethy Gordon writes 'I believe Miss Forbes had a regular flower garden prettily laid out, but I suppose all that is now wild and defaced'. It referred to the neglect permitted by his cousin, Major Benjamin Gordon. Mr Abernethy Gordon was a keen gardener and gave instructions for many vegetables, fruit trees, flowers and roses 'of which I should like to have plenty' to be planted.
It is not known for certain if any of the material planted by him remains in the present gardens. They were laid out in three linked compartments by Mrs McMurtrie in the 1960s. The simplest garden is that which flanks the main approach to the house from the west. It is largely lawn, with specimen trees of oak and copper beech, the latter dating from early 19th century. A wild area at the back of the lawn still has wild orchids, snowdrops, crocus, primulas, narcissus and wild anemones within it.
The main garden is fenced, lying to the east of the house. In the south part of this garden, hidden behind the wall which runs due east from the house, is the main collection of plants. Through the gate in the wall, a path runs the whole length of the garden parallel with the east/west wall which was also rebuilt in the early 1960s. On the north side of the path is a mixed old rose border and, to the south, a hedge has been formed from six varieties of old Scots roses. Down the centre of the path are two raised scree beds planted with alpines. South of the rose hedge lies a large lawn which was the site of the old kitchen garden. At the east end of the lawn, a semi- circular yew hedge shelters the garden from the prevailing wind and encloses a circular bed of 'Tuscany' or 'Old Velvet'. The sundial is the centrepiece. South of the lawn is a large peat bed in which are planted numerous gentians, violas and many ericaceous plants. A wooden summerhouse overlooks the lawn from the west.
The list of specialist plants in the garden is extensive. Mrs McMurtrie's interest lies primarily with old roses, pinks, primulas and violas and many rare varieties have been found and propagated by her for the garden. Many native wildflowers are also grown.
Due east of the house, two Irish yews flank the garden entrance and beyond them lies the herb garden which hosts, amongst its range of species, a collection of mint. North of the herb garden is the nursery area and greenhouse. Further east, beyond a hedge, lies the kitchen garden and orchard where climbing roses scramble over the branches of the apple trees, the remains of an old orchard.