Garden of the Season – Drum CastleNovember 29th 2021
Why We Should Visit
Drum Castle is one of Scotland’s oldest tower houses. It was given to the Irvine family by Robert the Bruce in 1323 and although it was later extended during the Jacobean era, and again in Victorian times, the Castle still retains the feel of a defensive keep.
The word ‘Drum’ means ‘ridge’ and the castle was positioned to give its original occupiers uninterrupted views over the surrounding countryside.
Story of the Garden
When the same family has inhabited a castle for 21 generations, they are bound to have made their mark on the landscape surrounding it and when archaeologists dug up the lawn to the west of the castle they found the remains of a 17th century garden - evidence that gardening has been going on here for a very long time.
The walled garden, on the east side, is set a short distance from the castle itself, as was the fashion in Victorian times, and it was transformed into a rose garden in 1991, with roses and other climbers smothering its high, brick walls.
The Old Wood of Drum is one of the largest ancient oak woods in Aberdeenshire and there is evidence of tree cover here throughout recorded history as well as signs that there was once a settlement here almost two thousand years ago.
The Wood was once a royal hunting forest that stretched from Peterculter to Banchory. Its wood was used in the construction of the castle and in the making of many ships. Today it is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, protected from development and home to a wide range of plant life and wild creatures, including badgers and red squirrels.
Ponds and wetlands areas create the conditions where aquatic and marginal plants can flourish and the the trails that wind their way through the woodland allow visitors to immerse themselves in its enclosed spaces and to look outwards over the rich farmland of Aberdeenshire.
In the parkland surrounding the castle grow fine examples of the exotic trees that began flooding into the country in the 18th century, including Monterey pines, giant redwoods from California, silver firs from Central Europe and Umbrella pines from Japan.
Anything Else To Look Out For
When it is open to the public in spring and summer the Garden of Historic Roses is spectacular. It is filled with all kinds of roses, from old ramblers, tea roses and modern shrub roses. The setting itself, includes formal parterres, knot gardens and topiary that echo the gardens of the 17th and 18th century and the roses are surrounded by herbaceous perennials.
Best Time To Visit
The woodland around Drum Castle provides fine opportunities for winter walks and the smooth lawns and bronze beech hedges surrounding the castle have a manicured appearance. In summer the highlight is undoubtedly the rose garden, which is a blaze of colour and filled with scent.
Any Recommendations in the Area
Aberdeenshire is covered in the relics of civilisations that have come and gone. It is home to one of Scotland’s most important collections of carved Pictish stones and four of these symbol stones, some featuring serpents and horses, can be found in Inverurie kirkyard while recumbent stone circles, a type of Bronze Age monument that’s unique to the area, can still be found in fields and on hillsides. One sits at Cluny Hill near Durris, on the opposite side of the River Dee from Drum Castle.
Drum Castle is situated half a mile off the A93 (Aberdeen to Banchory road) and three miles west of Peterculter.
Grounds open daily, dawn to dusk.
Castle open Saturday and Sunday
Tickets: £14.50/£11/£6 but half price tickets are currently available at www.visitscotland.com/great daysout
Tel: 01330 700334