• May in the Garden

    This is a really exciting time of the year to be a gardener as every day we come into work there is something different to see, whether it be another tray of seeds which have germinated or a row of tulips coming into bloom. The garden is gradually being planted with the seedling we have been growing in the glasshouses and the gaps are filling in. We are very keen to do as much successional sowing as possible with the vegetables to avoid an inevitable glut, so many of the vegetables such as the peas and beans will be planted periodically.

     

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  • Earl Grey and Lavender Scones

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  • Gin For Breakfast? Don’t Mind if I Do

    Gin, as we all know, is in the heavy throws of a revival. A nation of gin lovers, Wine and Spirit Trade Association dubbed 2016 ‘The Year of Gin’ after sales broke the £1bn for the first time. Britain’s gin producers are now in the region of 300 with 283,000 hectolitres – or 1.12bn gin and tonics – sold in the last 12 months.

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  • Best Food Experience in the North East

    YIPEEE!!! We have been awarded Best Food Tourism Experience at the North East Scotland Food & Drink Awards 2017. From a mere field four years ago to the best food experience in the north east, what an accolade. Thank you to all who have supported us 🙂

     

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  • Ploughing ahead in the garden

    What a busy time it’s been here in the Walled Garden! The hard landscaping in the Soft Fruit Garden, which has been our big winter project, has progressed well and is now complete thanks to the hard work and expertise of the team. The beds will soon be ploughed and then left fallow for this season as we work on eradicating the weeds. We hope to plant the area this time next year.

     

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  • News Release | Historical Revival for Gordon Castle Highland Games

    A Tale of Two Halves; Historical Revival for Gordon Castle Highland Games

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  • Garden progress | February 2017

    We have been blessed with an easy winter (so far) with plenty of dry frost free days which has allowed us to crack on with the construction of our latest big project – the Soft Fruit Garden. We are due to finish the brick edging and path work this week, making the area look very tidy indeed, the sixteen beds will be left fallow this year as we eradicate the weeds and aim to plant this time next year. Please do come and take a look at the work we have done as this is a really large piece of the garden.

     

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  • What a busy start to 2017 it’s been here!

    We’re sorry to have been so quiet – January has been a very busy month for us as we plan 2017. The weather has been beautiful with crisp blue skies and frosty mornings.

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  • It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

    It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

     

    We have just reached the end of our mammoth bulb planting mission which totalled 20,000! This included 12,000 crocus corms which were planted in the grassy beds next to the Play Area and Performance Area and will look amazing this Spring. We must say a special thank you to the children of Fochabers Nursery and Milne’s Primary School for all their hard work in helping us plant them. The bulbs will flower every year so the children will be able to look back and remember being involved with the process. We even had a wee mention in the Press and Journal and Northern Scot!

     

    We have also planted thousands of tulip bulbs in the four flower beds in the centre of the garden which will add a fabulous burst of colour. If you like what you see, there will be the opportunity to buy your own in pots when they are in bloom via our shop.

     

    One of our main winter projects for this year is the construction work for our new Soft Fruit Garden, the garden team have been pulling out all the stops. Much of the brick work is complete, after which we can install all of the paths. The beds will be rotivated for the coming season and left fallow to give us the opportunity to eradicate the weeds before we plant in winter/spring 2018. The construction work alone will be a great step forward for the project. I will keep you posted on our progress in January – let’s hope it’s not too snowy!

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  • Watch Our New Brand Video

     

    A Brand of Provenance

     

    An exclusive new video for our blog followers, discover the history, provenance and heritage that makes Gordon Castle Scotland one of 2017’s Great British Brands.

     

     

     

     

     

  • 5th August 2015

    August is a fantastic month in the Walled Garden with huge amounts of delicious fresh produce being harvested for use in the Café and being sold via the shop. It’s my first season working in the garden and I’ve been really impressed with the soil quality, even though the summer hasn’t been the best, most of the plants have grown very well.

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    Many of the plants are at their best this month and it’s great to see the four huge flower beds burst into flower. The beds have been designed by Arne Maynard and we are finding it interesting to see how all the colours and textures work together. The 3000 lavender plants have all been planted and, although still small they will soon bulk up. Take a look at these two photos of the garden, one from March 2014 and the other taken just a few weeks ago.

    march 2015

    Jul 2015

    We held our first performance day in the garden recently by the London Contemporary Theatre, Wind in the Willows and Twelfth Night, the performances were well attended and the sun shone. It was great to see, especially in such a beautiful venue, we all remarked that thanks to the high brick garden walls the acoustics were amazing.

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    wiw toad jump

  • 23rd July 2015

    3k lavender

    The plants have all been growing so fast after the hot weather, you can almost see it happen. The 3000 lavender plug plants which we potted up a month ago are being planted in the central part of the garden this week. The impact will be huge and will make all the difference to the look of the whole garden, as well as the visual impact just imagine the scent when they are in bloom!

    walled garden aerial 2 straight

     

    Take a look at these amazing aerial shots which were taken a few weeks ago from a drone by a talented young photographer, I was totally blown away when I saw them. You can really see the effort that has gone into the garden over the past couple of years. We will have more updated shots from the drone for you to see very soon so keep an eye on the blog.

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    We love harvesting more and more produce from the garden which is heading directly into the café, talk about low food miles!

  • 11th June 2015

    It’s really exciting to be planting up the four enormous flower beds (the final one is being planted today), thousands of plug plants, including many different varieties are being used in the  design, by Arne Maynard, the award winning designer. The plants will bulk up very quickly and soon provide an amazing display. The whole team have been involved in the project and have worked very hard.

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    The pumpkin and squash bed has been planted, now that the night time temperatures are improving.  We have used many different varieties that will look spectacular later in the summer and autumn.

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    It great to be delivering lots of fresh produce to the Café on a daily basis which goes from plot to plate on the same day. The freshness means that the flavour of the vegetables, fruit and herbs is optimum.

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    We love our new mini tractor which is ideal for use on some of the narrow paths – we just need to think of a name now!gordon tractor

  • 19th May 2015

    May is the month when the growing season really gets into its stride and, as a result many of the vegetables we have sown and planted are becoming established and looking great. The first of the many salads are ready to harvest for the Café after we had fun creating new designs in the two large beds.

    salad bed

     

    It’s great to see all of the espalier apple trees breaking bud, which means that the first of the training can commence. It’s really important to be on the ball with this as it is their first year. Growing espaliers is a fabulous way to grow apple trees and amazing how quickly the structure forms.

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    The annual flowers will be planted in the four large square beds soon after sowing in modules a few weeks ago.

     

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    The amazing pleached apples by the garden entrance are putting on a superb show now that they are in full bloom.

     

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  • 6th April 2015

    The whole garden is now open to our visitors with thanks to the garden team for doing an amazing job finishing the paths and brick edging around the central beds.

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    The beds have been prepared ready for this seasons display and, after working closely with the new Executive Chef, we have agreed a list of vegetables and herbs that will not only look great in the garden but will be used to make delicious dishes. So, we have been busy raising vegetable plants in the glasshouses and the first ones will be planted out this week, now the weather is warming up (broad beans are always one of the first as they germinate at low temperatures). The soil is just about warm enough to direct sow some vegetable seeds, and we are looking forward to sowing the first of the salads.

    I’m happy to say that, after lots of hard work and long evenings,  the play area, is now open for use. The area is a move away from the traditional slides and swings and has been designed with natural play in mind and to encourage children to learn and be creative whilst have fun at the same time. We certainly enjoyed giving the area a test run – purely for scientific purposes of course!

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    Our huge collection of fruit trees is now even more extensive after planting forty apple trees against the supports, running down the centre of the garden, which will be gradually trained as espaliers. There are twenty varieties altogether,  planted in pairs and they will form a significant part of the overall design.

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  • 24th February

    There are lots of really exciting things happening as we gear up for the garden open date on 27th March with much of the emphasis on finishing the central area. So, the team are continuing to do an amazing job constructing the beautiful brick edges and paths which surround the beds.

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    The apple espalier supports, which run either side of the main path are almost complete, ready for planting with lots of different varieties of apples. They are transforming the feel of the garden and give it an extra dimension. All of the elm posts have been beautifully made by our very own Ghillies and Estate joiner, Derek.

    esapalier posts

    The green manure clover, which covers four of the eight large beds is currently being dug in and will add lots of organic bulk and increase the worm population. All of the beds within the central area will be used this year for vegetables, flowers and herbs so there will be much to see.

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    The first of the sweet pea seeds have started to germinate today which is very exciting!

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  • 17th February

    Day 5 in Gordon Castle’s fabulous Walled Garden for me, and I’m so excited to be working in this beautiful setting. Although I’m told it’s not always this bright and sunny!

    Pretty Paperwhites

    Pretty Paperwhites

    I was a National Trust Head Gardener in Cumbria for the last 12 years. I’m so looking forward to using my experience and horticultural knowledge to help the great team here develop the huge potential of this unique Garden.

    Herb ribbons complete!

    Herb ribbons complete!

    The herb ribbons are finally complete – they will be a terrific fragrant feature this summer. Some of our lavender essential oil has already been harvested and added to some bath and beauty products, making ideal gifts for Mother’s Day.

    I aim to have all 8 of the vegetable beds under production (there were only 4 last year), and will start sowing chillies and peppers this week as they have a long ripening time. Then the sweet peas. And thanks to the team’s grand job of preparing the big greenhouses, we can grow much more than last year and experiment with some different varieties of veg.

    John Hawley

     

     

     

  • 16th January

    It’s been a blustery start to 2015! Hurricane-force winds have wreaked havoc, flooring some of the Estate’s sturdiest trees. But the green shoots of pot-planted daffodils and tulips are making an appearance, a welcome reminder that spring will come.

    Storm damage

    A casualty of hurricane-force winds

    Other than managing storm damage, we’re devoting our time to double-digging one of the large beds. It certainly keeps us warm! The fruit trees have had a good layer of mulch to protect their roots from the frost. We used well-rotted farmyard manure, full of lovely nutrients. There’s plenty of the stuff around here, but if you can’t get your hands on some, chippings, leaf mould and crushed shells are excellent, too.

    Mulching in late winter or early spring helps trap moisture ready for the summer heat. Here’s hoping!

     

     

     

  • 8th December

    As The Garden is becoming dormant for winter, we’ve been focussing on building The Garden’s play area, designed by the fabulous Timberplay Scotland. The result will be an exciting place for children to play creatively and safely, made entirely from natural materials, in keeping with the beautiful surrounds of The Walled Garden.

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    The Estate’s 250-year-old Ash

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    Original stones from the Castle’s walls

     

    We’re using as much of the Estate’s and other local materials as possible, like the Castle’s 250 year old mighty ash tree, felled in a storm earlier in the year. Given a new lease of life thanks to some ingenious chain-sawing supervised by Harry and Tassy, it’ll be a star attraction of the playground.

    The stone used is recycled from a part of the Castle itself that was demolished 60 years ago, and water, wood, sand, and grass will be used, too. It really will be a unique creation, but most importantly, it will be super fun!

     

     

     

     

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    Harry and Tassy, the project’s masterminds

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    But it hasn’t all been fun and games in The Garden. We’ve made a start on double digging the first of the vegetable beds and adding lots of manure for hopefully a great harvest next year.

    Tip: Do not manure your beds where you are growing root veg next year, add leaf mould to aid soul structure. It helps sandy soils retain moisture and breaks up heavy clay. So rake up the last of this year’s leaves to make more for next year – you can never have enough!

     

     

     

     

  • 4th November

    The days may be getting shorter but we gardeners still have plenty to do here at Gordon Castle’s Walled Garden!

    The team have been putting their backs into digging up the dahlias for the winter, before a killing frost hits. If you haven’t lifted yours yet, get digging! The tubers have been brushed off and are now nestling snuggly in sand filled boxes in the potting shed.

    Sweetpeas

    Trailing sweet peas

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    Angus & Zara with Arne Maynard

     

    Despite winter being round the corner, the sweet peas have kept on giving. The individual stems are too shot to cut separately, but if you cut the whole branch off as one, they look beautiful tumbling over a vase.

     

     

     

    We’ve started constructing herb ribbons around The Garden’s central pond. It took us a whole morning to mark out the first of the beds! The metal edgings are being welded into place, so next year aromatic bands of herbs will weave around the pond, as planned by the garden designer Arne Maynard.

    PlumbPruning

    Simon prunes the plumb trees

    Mr Maynard popped in to see us a few weeks ago, and was pleased with The Garden’s progress. It is almost unrecognisable from the start of the year. Simon, our tree expert, has also been here, subjecting the plumb trees to some savage pruning! He got rid of some hollow limbs, which will improve the trees’ vitality.

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    Greenhouse renovation

    Renovation has begun on the final section of the Victorian greenhouse, too. It’s been a busy few weeks!