THE Wee County's Japanese Gardens are set for a major boost following the announcement that more funds will be made available to celebrate its birthday next month.

To celebrate the 25th birthday of the gardens, The National Lottery Heritage Fund has announced funding for the reinstatement of Cowden Japanese Garden's ceremonial Tea House.

A grant of £229,500 has been made to the gardens, which sits at the foot of the Ochil Hills, bringing the total investment made by The Heritage Fund in Scotland to £834million.

The garden was created in 1908 by pioneering Scottish explorer Ella Christie. She was the first woman to travel from the West to meet the Dalai Lama and one of the first women to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society.

Inspired by her solo travels to Japan, she chose a female designer – the gifted Taki Handa – to create the seven-acre site in the grounds of Cowden Castle.

In doing so, The Japanese Garden at Cowden became the first and only garden of its size and scale to be designed by a woman.

Destroyed by vandals in the 1960s, the garden is currently being restored by a team of world-class experts including the renowned Japanese architect and garden designer Professor Masao Fukuhara – best known for winning the gold medal at Chelsea Flower Show as well as the restoration of The Japanese Gardens at Kew.

Thanks to National Lottery funding, the traditional Tea House will become a centrepiece for the Garden providing space for education and events as well as displaying the story of Ella Christie.

Activities will include therapeutic access for vulnerable groups as well as horticultural walks and Japanese-themed events such as Ikebana, origami and calligraphy. Path improvements will also be made and lighting installed.

Sara Stewart, chair of Cowden Gardens and great, great niece of Ella Christie, said: "Due to the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund our visitors will have the chance to enjoy the history, culture and tranquillity The Japanese Garden offers within an authentically designed Tea House.?

"In addition, our upgraded paths will make an incalculable difference to the overall experience for many of our visitors. ?The trustees and staff at Cowden are immensely grateful to the NHLF for recognising the importance and value of the 110-year-old garden."

The Tea House has been designed by UK leading architect, Hugh Stewart, who is the great, great nephew of Ella Christie.

Mr Stewart added: "With deep verandas and a raised wooden platform looking towards the lake, the Tea House will be a picturesque pavilion, giving scale to the garden and will command the space it sits within.

"It is a careful interpretation of a simple rustic shed, a place of arrival and on occasion will allow visitors to sample a traditional Japanese tea ceremony."