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Captain Neil Boyd Watson McEacharn

1884 - 1964

Garden designer. Born in Garlieston (Dumfries and Galloway), the son of Anglo-Australian shipping magnate Sir Malcolm Donald McEacharn (1852 - 1910), he was educated at Eton and Oxford. His father had bought Galloway House in 1908 and this is where the young McEacharn learned to garden.

Having visited Italy since his childhood, he bought an estate in Pallanza overlooking Lake Maggiore in 1930. He built a fine garden surrounding what became known as the Villa Taranto, named after of one of McEacharn's ancestors, Etienne-Jacques-Joseph-Alexandre MacDonald, a Marshall of the French army given the title Duke of Taranto by Napoleon. He transformed the landscape and filled the 16-ha (40-acre) gardens with more than 8500 plant varieties collected from around the world. The garden soon gained an international reputation, mixing a fine botanical collection with beautiful landscaping.

With the Second World War imminent, McEacharn left Italy for Australia in 1939. He gave his garden to the Italian State on condition that it remained private. Returning at the end of the war, he was encouraged to open the garden to the public, which he did in 1952.

McEacharn was a member of the Royal Company of Archers and a Fellow of the Linnaean Society. He was granted the Freedom of the town of Pallanza and only months later died on the veranda of the villa overlooking his beloved garden. He is buried in the garden and is remembered in the name of two species of magnolia. The Villa Taranto is now used by the Italian Prime Minister.

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