Gordon Castle Walled Garden near Fochabers, one of the oldest and largest walled gardens in the country, has awoken from its winter slumber with a bang this spring, with work on the next stage of its ambitious redevelopment well under way.
Along with their team of gardeners, owners of Gordon Castle, Angus and Zara Gordon Lennox, are following a bespoke design for their historic 8.5-acre walled garden, created by award-winning garden designer, Arne Maynard.
Over winter, eight pear tunnels were planted and, with brick edging now being laid and a path running underneath, the pear trees can now be admired by garden visitors from below as they grow.
The ambitious quince meadow, which was planned over the winter season, has now been added. 11 varieties of the deciduous tree have been planted, including Serbian Gold, considered to be the best for the UK climate, and Portugal Bush, which the microclimate of the North East may just favour.
In the four vegetables beds early peas and beans that had been sown under glass have been planted. They are joined by garlic, Jerusalem artichokes, ruby, white and yellow carrots, various colours of cauliflowers, pumpkins and squashes.
In the next few weeks, the impressive Victorian Mackenzie & Moncur glasshouse, which the team recently restored, will feature a sizeable amount of heritage tomatoes that will fill up one end of the glasshouse. It will also house a variety of chilli plants, which will provide a fiery display of colour in the middle section.
The new season has brought swathes of much-anticipated colour to the garden, with 3,000 crocuses and the four themed cut flowers beds of tulips introducing a rainbow of greens, whites, purples, dark reds, yellows, pinks and blues to the Speyside garden. Once the tulips have flowered, the beds will be soon awash with colour from an array of cut flowers, such as sweet peas, dahlias, cosmos and salvia.
The gardening team are anticipating the flowering of 3000 blue and white lavender plants, which were planted last year around the dipping pond. The lavender will eventually, along with other plants and herbs, be used distilled into the essential oils used in the Gordon Castle Scotland range of bath & beauty products.
The garden’s vegetables and the fruit from the 259 blossoming espaliered apricot, pear, apple and plum trees, will also be used throughout Gordon Castle’s varied product offering. The Walled Garden Café will use the fruit and vegetables in its seasonal menus, the apples and pears will go into Gordon Castle’s popular fruit ciders and the raspberries will flavour the Gordon Castle Raspberry Gin Liqueur, a product that has been shortlisted at this year’s Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards.
An exciting spring addition to the garden, though not one of the horticultural variety, is the new family of Gordon Castle chickens. Visitors to Gordon Castle have been allowed to name them and, once settled in, the chooks will be providing fresh eggs to the Gordon Castle shop, where they will be available to purchase.
Angus Gordon Lennox said: “Spring really has sprung in our Walled Garden and it is pleasure to see new shoots appearing for another fruitful year. The garden team has spent winter preparing and planning so that we can hit the ground running and it’s thrilling to see their hard work and vision pay off.
“2016 will see the next stage of the restoration take shape and we’ve said before that this is not an instant garden, which is put together in days, this is reality and Mother Nature takes her time. We’re so pleased with how it is going and also to see the same faces returning again and again to witness the progress being made for themselves.”