Needing some tips for your garden this summer?
Take a trip to one of the top north east gardens for a little green-fingered inspiration.
1. Laundry Cottage
Laundry Cottage is open to the public as part of Scotland’s Garden Scheme which allows private gardens to be viewed by appointment – admission fees are given to a chosen charity, in this case, to Amnesty International. Judith McPhun oversees this pretty little garden which is set alongside the River Bogie. It has an informal cottage style and its one and a half acres of land possess a rather charming fairytale quality. On the two steep slopes of the garden, there is an unruly, wild feel. Meanwhile, the more landscaped area around the cottage is a nice contrast, featuring an orchard and vegetable patches. Open by appointment year-round. Admission £4 adult, children free. Contact Judith on 01466 720768, or email email@example.com
2. Airdlin Croft
Formerly a working croft that was surrounded by hawthorn hedges, the fi ve acres at Airdlin Croft are teeming with wildlife. Located in the Buchan countryside, owners Richard and Ellen Firmin place biodiversity at the top of their list of priorities. Between them, their experience is extensive – Richard has a BSc in Biology and the RHS General Qualifi cation in horticulture, while Ellen has taught horticulture at the local college and worked in the Cruickshank Botanic Garden for fi ve years. They have lived at Airdlin for over 35 years and focus on building up a complex habitat to attract as much wildlife as possible. They have mature woodland that shelters over 100 varieties of rhododendrons, as well as over 500 varieties of hosta. Open by arrangement, 1 June – 31 July. Admission £4 adult, children free. Money raised goes to Fauna & Flora International. airdlin.com
3. Gordon Castle Walled Garden
Fochabers is home to the glorious Gordon Castle Estate. With one of the oldest walled gardens in Britain, it is being lovingly restored to its former glory. Owners Angus and Zara Gordon Lennox took over the running of the estate in 2008, and with head gardener Ed Bollom’s years of experience, as well as the help of award-winning garden designer Arne Maynard, it is already home to an abundance of beauty including 259 espaliered trees as well as vegetables, fruit and herbs. Their ‘plant, pick, plate’ ethos means that the on-site cafe (which won the Best Eating Experience Award last year in the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards) serves up a menu full of their homegrown produce. There is also a gorgeous little shop full of soaps, candles and homemade goodies – you can even pick up some fresh vegetables or fl owers to take home with you. The estate is fast becoming a popular private event and wedding venue. Open year-round, 10am-4pm. gordoncastle.co.uk
4. Middle Cairncake
This garden in Turriff is a joy for the senses. When developing their garden, the owners placed sight and scent at the forefront of their minds – roses were selected for their distinct perfumes, while plants were chosen for their unique colours and forms. The shape of their property allowed them to develop the surrounding land into a series of ‘rooms’. In their kitchen garden, for instance, they placed a polytunnel which allows them to be self-sufficient, while their pond adds another interesting dimension to the site. As part of Scotland’s Garden Scheme, admission fees are donated to Parkinsons UK charity. During your visit, tea will be served in the winter garden. Open by appointment, 1 July – 31 July. Admission £4 adult, children free. To book a visit, contact Nick and Penny Orpwood on 01888 544432, or visit scotlandsgardens.org
5. Pitmedden Garden
Pitmedden is a beautifully designed, historic garden, with parterres that carve intricate patterns into the landscape. There are almost six miles of clipped box hedging, over 30,000 annual bedding plants of all colours, sweet honeysuckle and jasmine, as well as over 200 fruit trees – so it’s safe to say that a stroll around Pitmedden Garden is a sensory delight. With a spot for picnics, there has never been a better excuse to get out and enjoy Aberdeenshire this summer. Alternatively, visitors can try their award-winning tearoom which sells homegrown, seasonal garden produce. The Great Garden dates as far back as 1675, when it was originally laid out by Sir Alexander Seton of Pitmedden. It is now looked after by the National Trust For Scotland. Open year-round. nts.org.uk
6. Elgin Biblical Garden
This garden has been planted with flowers and shrubs that feature in the Bible. Set adjacent to Elgin Cathedral, it is a place to go for quiet reflection, and of course for some garden inspiration. The Biblical Garden was set up in the early 1990s and was the first of its kind in Scotland – a place where Christian stories have been brought to life through statues and plants. ‘The Four C’s’ were a crucial consideration when planning the garden – community, church, commerce and council – creating a ‘people’s garden’ where all are welcome. The garden is often used by horticulture students wishing to develop their skills. It is open to the public from May through to September. Admission free. To fi nd out more visit their website: biblicalgardenelgin.co.uk
7. Kildrummy Castle Garden
Sometimes, there’s nothing better than taking yourself off to a restful, relaxing location to enjoy the birds singing and the wind blowing through the trees. Next time you need some peace, head to Kildrummy Castle Gardens (open daily from April through to October, from 12-5pm.) It is set in the ancient quarry below the ruins of a medieval castle. There is a charming little bridge that spans the garden and is modelled on the old Brig o’ Balgownie. The bridge reflects down onto the largest of the garden’s four ponds – which is full of water plants and wildlife. Alpines and shrubs thrive throughout the former quarry site. kildrummy-castle-gardens.co.uk
If you like your garden walk to be topped or tailed with a nice cup of tea and a cake, then head to Formartine’s in the heart of Buchan. The award-winning eatery and retail space has a menu of locally produced food and is both family and animal-friendly. After enjoying one of their delicious cakes, head out for a walk – as Formartine’s is located in the Haddo Estate, visitors can explore stunning woodland trails around the Haddo Trout Lake. There is an abundance of wildlife to be seen, including red squirrels, herons, osprey and deer, and you’ll be sure to find some inspiration for a wild, natural look in your garden. Through their active woodland management, Formartine’s have planted more than 400 new trees to sustain the environment for future generations to enjoy. Visitors are encouraged to report any wildlife sightings, interesting plants and fungi so they can be recorded. Open all year round. formartines.com
9. An Teallach
This cottage garden, which is relatively new on the scene, is also part of Scotland’s Garden Scheme and admission fees are donated to Dogs Trust. With herbaceous, mixed borders, a terraced woodland bank, a beautiful rose garden, and fruit and vegetable beds, it is bursting with life from May through to October, allowing plenty of time for visitors to see it in all its glory. An Teallach, based in Huntly, has developed in a remarkably short period of time – though it was only set up in 2013, it already has the feel of a well-established garden. What’s more, the surrounding views of rolling hills and farmland are incredibly restful, making it a place of peace and tranquility. Open by appointment, 1 June – 31 August. Admission £4 adult, children free. To book an appointment, contact Gary and Victoria Morrison on 01464 871471, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
10. Johnston Gardens
Johnston Gardens is a hidden gem in the city – a verdant space often overlooked in favour of the more ‘weel-kent’ Duthie Park. Here you’ll find a city garden with streams, waterfalls, ponds, rockeries and a rustic bridge that help to make this one of the most charming areas in the city. The garden is planted with rhododendrons, spring bulbs, heathers and alpines; the ponds are full of irises, aylesbury, mallard and muscovy ducks. This garden is well loved by bridal couples for photographs of their big day. Facilities include a children’s play area. Open year round, 8am until 1 hour before dusk.