Falkland Palace is listed category A. It was begun in the early 16th century, and has stone work by Nicholas Roy, Moses Martin and others; it was altered in 1840 under the supervision of William Burn, and restored in 1893-6 by John Kinross. Falkland Palace Castle is listed category B and is a Scheduled Monument; only fragments remain in the second terrace. The Walls enclosing the gardens and stables are listed category B and were built during the 16th & 17th centuries; they were restored by John Kinross in the 1890s.
The Royal Stables, Tennis Court and 'Caichpule' are listed category A and were built between 1513-1538. They too were restored by John Kinross in 1895 and were renovated in 1955. This is the only 'real' tennis court in Scotland and is the oldest in Britain. The Bridge between the Palace and the House of Falkland dates from 1890 and is listed B. The Visitor Centre was built in 1965 for the National Trust for Scotland by Schomberg Scott. There are several pieces of ornamentation within the garden, including one Sundial designed by Schomberg Scott.
Enclosed by tall yew hedges, the garden simply consists of two raised rectangular water basins surrounded by low growing Junipers and is separated by two long borders accentuated by four Pencil cedars, Juniperus virginiana. The entrance is guarded by two large urns filled with Gentiana sino-ornata. Wisteria, Clematis varieties and vines all grow up the facing wall of the Stables and Tennis Court.
The public is not allowed behind the buildings where the NTS has a small vegetable garden, propagating and lining out area, and several 'picking' borders supplying cut flowers for the Palace. The tool shed is attached to the west side of the Tennis Court.
To the west of the garden a new orchard was planted in the 1900s, 1940s and 1970s and it surrounds the old curling pond which has been turned into a 'bowling green'. The woodland drive from the House of Falkland, owned by the Crichton Stuarts, crossed under the lane at the small bridge which is still there built into the wall.
The enclosed gardens are formed from a series of terraces which are further divided into several garden 'rooms'. The terraces were probably completed during the 16th century at the same time as the tennis court but only the outline remains. The gardens were restored during the late 19th century but by World War II they had been swept away and the ground was used in the 'Dig for Victory' campaign for growing potatoes. Between 1947-52 Major Michael Crichton Stuart commissioned Percy Cane to redesign the gardens.
The age and history was important to Percy Cane who wrote 'The new gardens were designed to retain and to throw into higher relief the palace as it is at present and also, because of their architectural and historic interest, to preserve and bring into the scheme those traces that remain of the earlier and more extensive, palace'. This he achieved by planting columnar Lawson cypresses, Chamaecyparis lawsoniana, to replace the ruined east facade.
The descending terraces to the old castle and tennis court were designed to be 'unvarying green' and the ruined north range enclosing the courtyard was marked by a formal paved flower garden now planted with yellow and red roses edged with clipped lavender, Senecio greyii and pyramids of golden yew. The sweeping vista from the courtyard is partially blocked by the growth of the oak trees planted some 60-70 years ago. The drive is bordered by an avenue of lime, Tilia x europea, planted about 100 years ago. Mary de Guelder and wife of James II is supposed to have laid out a walk in this area between two oaks known as the 'Queen's Quarrels' which may have been planted to provide the wood for the quarrels, or arrows, for the cross-bow. On the other side of the small stream a small coniferous plantation has recently been planted as shelter.
The garden to the east of the Palace was called the Pleasure Grounds by Percy Cane and it is on this large terrace that he created his masterpiece. It is overlooked by two smaller paved terraces running along the west and south sides and, at the visitor's entrance, an imposing owl dominates the large chequered- paved terrace set out as a draughts board. The south borders along the Visitor Centre lead to the sundial by Schomberg Scott and are planted for foliage effect with Hostas and expanses of Alchemilla mollis.
The design for the Pleasure Grounds was influenced by a 17th century engraving and has a central glade enclosed by six large island beds. A grass walk meanders around the terrace between the straight edges of the outer borders and curving lines of the inner islands. Along the 'Palace Dyke' (the wall) lies the magnificent 590' (180m) herbaceous border planted for a succession of flowers with a central block of reds, yellows and oranges, at their best between July and September. All the planting is bold and generous and a wide range of plants is used, though the present selection was chosen by the NTS when they replanted the borders in 1970s. The island beds are planted in layers, with the small trees like Cherries and Maples in the middle, descending to shrubs such as Laburnum, Fothergilla monticola, Weigelia, and Philadelphus; these are surrounded by smaller plants such as Potentillas, Hostas, periwinkle and other groundcovers.