The Pineapple, Dunmore
Many follies are hard to describe and lose their impact over time, but The Pineapple in Dunmore (½ mile (1 km) northwest of Airth in Stirlingshire) needs no introduction. On top of a classical Palladian pavilion, housing a small octagonal room, there is a 45 feet tall stone pineapple. When it was completed in 1761 pineapples had only been grown in Scotland for 30 years and were so exotic few people would have seen one, let alone tasted one, but even today, accustomed as we have become to the fruit it is a joy to see.
Commissioned by John Murray, the 4th Earl of Dunmore, the precise reason for its creation has been lost with time. Many sources suggest that the pineapple was then a symbol of wealth, and follies were certainly in fashion. Pineapples were grown at Dunmore in the Earl's heated greenhouses, and the windows looks out onto a fruit orchard which still survives today. If you're going to design a building in the shape of a fruit and really want to show off, the spikiness and symmetry of a pineapple make it a good choice. Whoever the architect was, he did a sterling job - the detail is breathtaking and it has been designed with care. Each leaf is constructed with its own drainage system in order to avoid frost damage.
Its solid construction probably helped to save it from an ignominious end. By 1970 it was still in good shape while the surrounding buildings were falling into disrepair. The Countess of Perth gifted them to the National Trust for Scotland and with the help of The Landmark Trust they were restored. The gardens are open to the public and the building itself can be rented out as an unusual holiday destination.
If you're planning a visit, the gardens are a nice spot for a picnic and there are some woodland walks but be aware that there are no amenities on site - come prepared. From the car park outside the gates, there is a short walk through the beautifully maintained gardens until a gap in the fruit trees frames The Pineapple to best effect. If you walk towards the building there is an information board with some facts and figures on the building and its history. But most of it is just an architectural wonder which won't fail to bring a smile and a sense of wonder to any visit.