Gordon Castle near Fochabers, one of the recently announced Scottish Gin Trail destinations, has released details of the next phase of its Walled Garden restoration, designed by leading garden designer Arne Maynard.
As winter sets in, the 8.5 acre Speyside Walled Garden, one of the oldest and largest in the country and the source of the botanicals used in Gordon Castle Scotland Gin, ‘goes to sleep'. The gardening team take this opportunity to make preparations for spring, a busy time in the garden's year.
The construction of eight pear tunnels has begun and although the tunnels will all be up in the next few weeks it may be many years before they are adorned with an abundance of succulent pears. They say you plant ‘pears for your heirs' and Geordie Gordon Lennox was there with his father Angus to witness the first of the tunnels going in.
Once the pear tunnels are complete, the next stage of the plan will see the continuation of the laying of 48,000 bricks, which will complete the next phase of the hard landscaping.
There are also ambitious plans to plant an area with quince trees, under planted with saffron crocus. This will sit beautifully alongside the newly planted 6,000 crocuses for spring and also the blue and white lavender ribbons, which wind through the garden providing a striking contrast against the garden's towering walls.
The low light arriving with winter still shows the recently restored Mackenzie & Moncur Victorian glasshouse in all its glory, as it glints in the sunshine next to the growing paper whites and hyacinths. These beautiful, scented flowers will soon be used to fragrance the café and shop as well as for Mother's Day, when they will be available to buy.
The fruits of an abundant autumn are being put to good use in the Walled Garden café and the Gordon Castle Scotland range of fine food & drink. The 'neeps and tatties' were used in the sold out Burns Night Supper, the apples and pears have gone into the ciders and the onions and pumpkins have been featuring in the popular winter café menu, fitting in perfectly with Gordon Castle's ‘Plant. Pick. Plate.'philosophy.
The gardening team, including Head Gardener John Hawley and Assistant Head Gardener Ed Bollom, are working with executive chef, John Morrison, to create a planting plan for the vegetable beds, making sure perfect seasonal produce is available for the café menus throughout the year.
Angus Gordon Lennox of Gordon Castle said: "Every time we go out into the garden something has changed. The beauty of being involved in this project from the beginning is that we notice every subtle change and identify the small but important developments in each section of the garden. It's very rewarding. We really did start from nothing, just grass."
Zara Gordon Lennox said: "This garden is historical, one of the oldest and largest in the country, and has been in the Gordon family for generations. We like to keep the traditions going where we can and, although we didn't have a traditional ‘wassailing' event, we did recently offer up some cider to one of the oldest fruit trees in the garden, which is around 130 years old, to scare bad spirits away and hope for a good harvest."
• Find out more at www.gordoncastlescotland.com or follow the project on Twitter @GCWalledGarden