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Scottish Garden of the Season: Drummond Castle

September 28th 2015

Autumn is a wonderful season for Scottish Gardens and none are more spectacular than Drummond Castle gardens set in glorious Perthshire countryside near Crieff.

There has been a garden here since 1490 when the first Lord Drummond built a stout keep on a rocky outcrop and began cultivating the small valley that lay immediately south. Over the next five hundred years the garden survived changing fashions and the turbulent fortunes of a family whose loyalties lay with the Jacobite cause. Today’s garden is a 19th century revival of an audacious 17th century scheme.

Once autumn comes the mile long beech avenue that leads to the castle turns a vivid colour and on arriving at the inner courtyard of the original keep the entire garden is spread out below in all its astonishing glory. Here beneath the castle wall lies a great parterre, studied all over with topiary yew and hollies resembling a board game of Machiavellian complexity. A broad grass ride, carved through Daggan Wood, now full of colour, which rises to the south, carries the eye out of the garden and into the landscape beyond while at the centre of an immense St Andrew’s Cross, inscribed in low hedging of Buxus sempervirens, is a multi-faceted sundial by master mason John Mylne which has stood there since 1630.

The parterre itself occupies nine acres and the central sections of the St Andrew’s Cross design are shaped like thistles. Lavandula “Hidcote”, Stachys Ianata and Anaphalis triplinervis line the walks while Rosa “Iceberg” and “Free Spirit” fill some of the sections.

The last of the yellow and red blooms of Rosa “Top Rose” and “Evelyn Fison” which represent the Drummond heraldic colours can still be seen whilst the hedges and trees provide those amazing autumn colours. More than a dozen different kinds of maple are spread across the garden including Acer cappadocicum and Acer platanoides “Drummondii”. A single Cercidiphyllum japonicum perfumes the air and a Parrotia persica creates a vivid contrast to the Tsuga canadensis and Prumnopitys andina that stand either side of it.

Drummond’s final fabulous autumn scene comes when the Fagus sylvatica hedge takes on its copper tones, the Liriodendron tulipifera turn butter-yellow and the Acers drop their crimson leaves in overlapping circles.

Where: Drummond Castle Gardens, Muthill, Crieff, Perthshire PH7 4HZ.

Website: www.drummondcastlegardens.co.uk

Opening times: Daily until 31 October 1pm to 6pm (last admission 5pm)

Admission: Adult £5, OAP £4, child £2

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