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Meet Stuart Stockley from Fyvie Castle – NTS

May 6th 2020

Originally from Essex, I moved to Scotland after meeting my wife. Although I’ve had a passion for gardens from a young age after helping to transform my parents garden as youngster, I didn’t take it up as profession until later in life. Before becoming the Gardener at Fyvie Castle I was a florist and, on many occasions, worked here doing the flowers for weddings and events. In chatting to the Property Manager at the time I commented on the stunning gardens at Fyvie and how I fancied being a gardener. I just so happened to be in the right place at the right time as they were looking to take someone on. I took a leap of faith into a new career. The Head Gardener (Gordon Thompson) has taught me lots over the years and the NTS have put me through numerous training programmes to get me to where I am today. I have been the Gardener here for 8 years now and have loved every single one of them.

Fyvie Castle is situated in the heart of Aberdeenshire on a beautiful estate comprised of a quarter mile long lake, farm land and four main gardens. The newest garden is the shrubbery introduced in 2016 at the far end of the lake in a clearing of woodland. Behind this is a woodland garden called Rhymers Haugh named after Thomas the Rhymer a 13th century prophet who placed a curse on the castle. The American Garden is named in recognition of the Forbes-Leith family, the last family to own the castle, who made their money in the steel industry in America in the late 1800’s. The real jewel in the crown though has to be the walled kitchen garden of Scottish fruits.

In 1998 work began on the creation of a new kitchen garden on the site of the 18th century walled garden which had been lost in war time. The garden officially opened to the public in 2003, and is now home to more than 40 varieties of Scottish apples, as well as Scottish pears, plums, raspberries, blackberries, hybrid berries and blackcurrants. The herbaceous border runs the length of the south facing wall. It is a riot of colour and alive with butterflies and bees. The vegetable beds are full of colourful produce with everything in neat rows like little soldiers.

Of all the aspects of my job I love the most it has to be being able to stand back and look at my work, seeing the difference I’ve made and hearing people’s positive comments. One of the things in particular I’m most proud of is a dry-stone wall I built. There is something quite humbling about knowing it will be there long after I’m gone. The other really great thing is the variety my job offers. One month I’m in the green house pricking out seedlings and potting up things and the next I’m hanging from trees on ropes with a chainsaw cutting out dangerous branches and everything else in between.

     

For more information please see Fyvie Castle.

And you can follow me on Instagram for more gardening content @gardener.stu.

*National Trust for Scotland reserve all rights and ownership over this article and all photos included.