In 1701 the ballasters in the high walk (upper terrace) were erected and trees and plants including walnut, apricots, peaches and double yellow roses were brought from Holland. Little regard was given to the growing conditions in Scotland which meant that some of the plants were planted in baskets that could be moved indoors over the winter months. In 1707, Sir Robert Sibbald testified that Cowane’s Hospital had a “very fine garden adjoining to it.” In 1712, Thomas Harlaw, gardener to the Earl of Mar, was paid £25 to design the garden and in 1713 was paid for directing the levelling of the Hospital yards for a bowling green. The formal layout of the garden dates from this time and may be compared to the plans for the Earl of Mar’s “Great Garden” at Alloa. Work also involved re-siting the sundial and making up new borders and the new parterre garden.
A parterre meaning “on the ground” was fashionable in the 16th and 17th century and is designed to create compartments or beds surrounded by box hedging similar to the pattern of a Persian carpet. It is infilled with colourful bedding plants and coloured gravels or sands. Over time the plantings at Cowane’s changed from purely medicinal herbs such as thyme, hyssop, wormwood, chamomile, rue, sage and lavender to garden flowers such as marigolds, gilly flowers (pinks), hellebores, anemone blanda, forget-me-nots, pansies, stocks, hardy geraniums and mixed hardy annuals. Later in the 18th century, standard roses, small topiary trees of holly or yew clipped into ornamental shapes gave height and interest as a central focus to the parterre beds. In 1746 features of the parterre garden can be seen on a Board of Ordnance map by Dougal Campbell.
In 1779 stringent rules had to be drawn up to prevent “all and sundry” (boys and maidservants) from making a thoroughfare of the garden.