The terraced gardens are thought to have been laid out in the latter half of the 19th century, although the present layout of the garden is modern, dating from c.1960.
Inveresk village was the site of both a military and civil Roman settlement. Later, the lands belonged to the monks of Dunfermline but there is no evidence to confirm that there was ever a monastery here. Many historical events took place near Inveresk such as the Battles of Pinkie and Prestonpans and, in 1650, Oliver Cromwell established his headquarters at Inveresk House.
Inveresk Lodge is the oldest building in Inveresk today, although little is known of its individual history. It was built between 1683-1700 and is known to have changed hands many times before it was acquired by the family of Wedderburn of Blackness who held it for c.110 years. In 1851, it was owned by a Miss Wedderburn who commissioned James Hay to prepare a survey plan of the garden in that year. The plan showed a long walk flanked by planting on either side along the northern boundary of the present garden, the remainder of which was divided into five compartments by tree planting. The terraced walls of the garden appear to have been laid out subsequent to the preparation of this plan, the exact date of the work is unknown but they are indicated on the 2nd edition OS map surveyed c.1900 and may have been built c.1881, the date on one of the garden walls. The estate was purchased by the Elphinstone family who subsequently passed it to the Bruntons. Mr Brunton had an interest in ornithology and built two aviaries in the field to the south of the terraced garden. Mrs Helen Brunton donated the house and garden to the National Trust for Scotland in 1959. The terraced gardens, which had become overgrown latterly due to the illness of Mrs Brunton, were redesigned by Mr Eric Robson and the garden was opened to the public in 1962. The house is let by the NTS on a long-term lease.
Inveresk Lodge is an L-plan, two-storey mansion built between 1683-1700 with subsequent additions. The category A listing for the house includes the garden walls lining Inveresk village road and Wedderburn Terrace. The Terraced Gardens are thought to have been built in the late 19th century. Buttresses were added to the lower terrace walls c.1960. The Summerhouse stands at the south-west corner of the terraced garden.
The Gate at the entrance to the garden is modern, the work of a local blacksmith. Various urns and troughs which stand in the courtyard and throughout the garden have been brought in since 1960 as has a sundial which stands in the garden which was gifted by Mrs Beveridge from Pitreavie Castle.
The woodland garden is situated along the south-eastern boundary of the garden amid a canopy of elm, oak and lime trees planted between 1870-1920. The garden also incorporates part of the former orchard of the house and some Rhododendron and Azaleas which were remnants of the pre-1960 planting.
The terraced gardens lie to the immediate east and south of the house. The gardens were designed with features which could be incorporated into any small garden. The entrance to the gardens is at the north-west corner. Next to this entrance, a glasshouse extends along the north boundary wall and houses many of the more tender garden plants, including Acacia armata and Plumbago capensis, and also the aviary. Along the front wall of the glasshouse, shrubs unusual to the Edinburgh area have been planted; among them Carpenteria californica. Beyond the glasshouse is a shrub rose border, designed by Graham Stuart Thomas which includes both old- fashioned and modern varieties edged with low-growing plants such as Stachys, Dianthus and lavenders.
A square lawn lies to the immediate east of the house, on which stands a mature yew, a remnant of the earlier landscape; the lawn is retained by a stone wall against which a variety of shrubs has been trained. From this terrace, steps lead down to a flagged path running approximately west-east along which four 'Hibernica' have been established. From this terrace, a bank of shrubs slopes down to a lawn which extends along the southern half of the garden and, at the east end, sweeps up to meet the shrub rose border on the north boundary. The grass is regularly interrupted by specimen trees and shrub borders which create or highlight smaller spaces. Vistas have been focused on the fine Pitreavie sundial which stands almost at the centre of the site.
From the east end of the terraced gardens, a footpath leads to the woodland garden and, from it, a path returns along the lower side of the main retaining wall where flowering shrubs have been planted between the buttresses. At the west end of the path is the present vegetable garden for the house.