CASTLE GARDENS – SCOTLAND

Culzean Castle

Culzean Castle is near Maybole, Carrick, on the Ayrshire coast of Scotland. It was built in stages between 1777 and 1792. It is the former home of the Marquess of Ailsa, the chief of Clan Kennedy, but is now owned by the National Trust for Scotland. This incredible clifftop castle on the spectacular west coast of Scotland lies within the Culzean Castle Country Park, an extensive estate encompassing lush woodland, landscaped gardens and rugged coastline.  The mid-18th-century Walled Garden is situated one kilometer from the house and is protected from salt-laden winds by tree planting. It is divided in two by a central wall and has ornamental gates dated 1786. In one section there are restored glasshouses, ornamental plantings and an early 20th century grotto. Some fruit and vegetables and flowers for cutting are grown in the other section which is distinguished by double herbaceous borders running the full length of the garden. The lawns are planted with specimen trees. The walls of the garden were built in 1752.

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Scone Palace

Scone Palace is a Category A listed historic house near the village of Scone and the city of Perth. Built of red sandstone with a castellated roof, it is one of the finest examples of late Georgian Gothic style in the United Kingdom. A place steeped in history, Scone was originally the site of an early Christian church, and later an Augustinian priory.  Scone was, from at least the 9th century, the crowning-place of the Kings of Scots and home to the Stone of Scone, more commonly referred to as the Stone of Destiny. Kenneth MacAlpin (traditionally known as the first King of Scots), Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Robert the Bruce, and Charles II number amongst the 38 Kings of Scots inaugurated and crowned at Scone. It was believed that no king had a right to reign as King of Scots unless he had first been crowned at Scone upon the Stone of Scone. There are fine woodlands in the grounds of the Palace, some of the fir trees being at least 250 years old. The grounds of the Palace were the first place of introduction to Britain of the Douglas fir tree species, after being introduced by David Douglas. Douglas was a son of Scone and worked as a gardener and forester for the Earl of Mansfield before embarking upon his botanical career. The first Douglas fir still stands in the grounds today. Scone has a special relationship with trees due to the life of this famous botanist. A number of peacocks roam the grounds and freely embarked on a display for us.   In an adjoining field were some Highland Cows (Heilan’ Coos).

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Blair Castle

Blair Castle stands in its grounds near the village of Blair Athol in Perthshire. The castle is in Glen Garry in a designed landscape of some 2,500 acres within a large and traditional estate and commands a strategic position on the main route through the central Scottish Highlands. It is the ancestral home of the Dukes of Atholl, known as the ‘Planting Dukes’ in the 18th and 19th centuries. By 1830 the family had planted over 27 million trees within the Atholl Glens. Hercules Garden is a stunning walled enclosure of about nine acres restored to its original 18th century form with landscaped ponds, a Chinese bridge, plantings of vegetables and an orchard of more than one hundred fruit trees. Herbaceous borders are glorious during summer.  Diana’s grove (named after the Roman Goddess of Hunting) is a magnificent stand of tall trees including Grand Fir, Douglas Fir, Larch and Wellingtonia in just two acres. The garden is named after the statue of Hercules which was originally set on the hill as a focus for the landscape to the east of the Castle.

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Cawdor Castle

Cawdor Castle is set amid gardens in the parish of Cawdor approximately 16 km (10 miles) east of Inverness. The castle is built around a 15th century tower house, with substantial additions in later centuries. Cawdor has three gardens – The Walled Garden, the Flower Garden and the Wild Garden. The Walled Garden is the oldest and dates from c.1600 and later became a kitchen garden. The Flower Garden was laid out some 100 years later and was originally designed for enjoyment in late summer and autumn. This garden’s season has now been extended to give pleasure from early spring, with bulbs, bedding plants, herbaceous borders, ornamental trees and shrubs all providing delight. The Wild Garden is the youngest, being planted in the 1960’s and lies between the Castle and the stream of the Cawdor Burn. It boasts over 100 species of lichen. With fertile soil, a climate tempered by the Gulf Stream, rainfall well distributed throughout the year, around 18 hours of sunshine during the summer and, of course, the head gardener, the gardens at Cawdor Castle grow beautifully.   We enjoyed every minute of our time in these delightful gardens.

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