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Scottish Garden of the Season – Scone Palace

November 6th 2017

Scone may more commonly be associated with its place in Scottish history. It was an important religious gathering of the Picts, it was the site of an early Christian Church and it housed the Stone of Destiny where the Kings of Scotland were crowned until the mid-seventeenth century. On the site today, is the Palace of Scone which is under the stewardship of the 8th Earl of Mansfield and is surrounded by over 100 acres of parkland, grounds and gardens.

Like all gardens on historic sites and around large stately homes the gardens at Scone have an interesting story to tell too. The gardens were laid out by the Scottish garden designer J. C. Loudon in the early 1800s and is today recognised as a designed landscape by Historic Environment Scotland. 200 years later and remarkably the layout of the gardens have changed very little.

Predominantly a large woodland garden, a network of paths takes the visitor under the canopies of large lime, oak, beech and sycamore trees that adorn the gardens, including a sycamore planted by King James VI of Scotland in the early 1600’s. In November, as the display of bulbs, perennials and shrubs begin to fade, it is the changing colour of the leaves on the large canopies of these trees from green to yellows, oranges and reds that provide the final colourful display of the year, before winter comes knocking.

Once the leaves fall they continue to dazzle for a few more days as they brighten up the ground. The autumn coloured yellow leaves of the lime trees that line the avenue of the Old Drive turn the grey tarmac into a golden carpet, especially when it is caught in the light of the autumn sun.

When grown as a hedge the leaves of beech don’t drop at all after their autumn display. During November, the leaves of the hedge will be turning to a russet brown that lasts the winter, holding on until they are pushed off by the unfurling new leaves the following spring. This adds another dimension to the Murray Star Maze in the Palace grounds, that is made up of 1000 purple and 1000 common beech trees. and provides a background to the display of thousands of daffodils that surround the maze in spring.

Under these trees the Japanese maples that Scone is making a collection of are in full autumn display while the final red leaves of the deciduous azaleas are just holding on, until they are blown away by the Autumn winds.

The odd bloom remains on the varieties of Hydrangea paniculata that even in a dried state provide interest throughout the autumn and winter.

No matter what season it is, there is always one part of the Palace grounds that stands in grand glory, the Victorian Pinetum. This vision of the 3rd Earl of Mansfield, who commissioned the planting of a collection of new and exotic conifers in the mid-1800’s, is now being realised. Magnificent giant redwoods, western hemlocks, monkey puzzles, Sitka spruce, umbrella pine are only a few of over 200 conifers in this collection, which are there for us to enjoy in their magnificent splendour all year round.