Garden of the Season – Gordon Castle Walled GardenOctober 17th 2022
Why should we visit?
New gardens on the scale of Gordon Castle Walled Garden don’t come along very often, but over the last decade this eight-acre space has been transformed into something very special. It has been completely redesigned by one of the UK’s leading designers and now, as well as a seemingly endless supply of cut flowers, the garden also produces fruit and vegetables for the shop and cafe within the garden
Earlier this year it was named ‘Garden of the Year’ by Historic Houses, an organisation made up of more than 1,000 grand houses and palaces across the UK
Story of the garden
Built over 200 years ago in order to supply fresh food for the Duke of Gordon and his household, the garden remained productive until two World Wars took their toll on staffing and gradually the garden lapsed into disrepair. What did survive however were 249 espaliered apple, plum, peach and fig trees around the walls, which were carefully pruned every year.
In 2013 work began on restoring the garden and Arne Maynard created a layout of herbaceous borders, cutting beds, vegetable plots and land-formed lawns where today children love to play.
Dinner-plate-sized dahlias are still flourishing in the garden, helped by the high walls and the mild climate of the Moray Firth. This has been a good year for fruit and the heritage varieties around the walls include the Plum ‘Gordon Castle’ which first appeared as a ‘sport’ in the garden in 1864. In the vegetable garden, summer varieties are giving way to winter crops.
Botanical flavours, picked from the herb garden and fruit cages, have provided the inspiration for the range of Gordon Castle Gins, which are sold in the shop. Essential oils are cold-pressed and added to hand creams, soaps and shampoos.
Anything else to look out for?
The dipping pond in the centre of the garden is surrounded by 3000 blue and white lavender plants and the outdoor play area, with kitchen, den building supplies and water cascade is a popular place for children to explore.
Best time to visit?
From a tulip festival in spring to a Christmas market, the garden is busy all year round. At the moment late-season flowers are providing colour and visitors can watch the gardeners clearing away the summer’s growth and making preparations for the cold months ahead.
Any recommendations in the area
The Scottish Dolphin Centre at nearby Spey Bay is a conservation and observation hub for the dolphins that swim in the waters of the Moray Firth. Whales can also sometimes be spotted swimming offshore
Gordon Castle is on the A96 in Fochabers, nine miles east of Elgin.
The walled garden and children’s play area is open daily, 10am - 4pm. The cafe is open from Wednesday to Sunday, 11am - 2.30pm.
Ticket prices: £8, £6, £4 (£4, £3, £2 from November to March)
Courtesy of The Herald