If a garden sparkles in rain then it’s a gem for sure. Truth be told, when we took the soggy jog from the car park to the tearoom at Castle Fraser, back at the end of August 2012, I didn’t even consider a garden wander. It was a wet, chilly and windy day – no surprises there based on last summer’s weather.
Our visit to Castle Fraser was simply a time passer after a daughter drop-off and expected pick-up again in a few hours. Instead of spending time in the busy City of Aberdeen we headed out west for 16 miles for a wander round a Scottish Castle and some refreshments to warm us up.
We began our visit through the rear courtyard en route to the tearoom. The photo above was not taken by me but kindly available through Wikipedia Commons. The tearoom was on the left and a Gift Shop was on the right.
As you will see below, the tearoom was bright and airy. A September Bulb and Garden Produce notice caught my eye on the tables (2 weekends during the month) and I had intended promoting it. I’m guessing this is an annual thing so if you check the website events page during 2013 you’ll get details of it and other stuff going on at NTS Castle Fraser.
My snapshots of Castle Fraser are exactly that – small shots taken using my phone in a hurry so it wouldn’t get wet. Fighting with an umbrella too, we had one focus and that was to find the entrance door.
Being truthful, I was disappointed not be allowed to take photos inside the castle but fully appreciate why. For those interested in a peek inside and some History of the Castle I thought this Undiscovered Scotland page was good. You can also browse through slideshow images on the main NTS page for the castle.
For an alternative view of Castle Fraser, Garden and Estate Hot Air Balloon trips are available. Once booked you wait in the main car park for the balloon crew and pilot! I can’t truthfully say I can recommend this trip as it’s not something I’ve done. However, walking round gardens for inspiration… well that's another matter entirely...
For anyone new to gardening, there are a wealth of books and magazines with images to inspire you when you set out deciding what to do with your new outdoor space. My recommendation would be to take the full 3-D surround view you get with walking through an established garden that is open to visitors.
Okay... let’s get virtual garden walking until you are able to get out there for yourself…
My eye was instantly drawn to this planting above with the chocolate foxgloves (a new addition to my garden earlier in the year). I took a good look to see what planting combinations were used here. What's great about 'real' garden visits is that you can walk around plantings to see them from all different angles. I like to do that.
I loved the deep planting and plant choices for height, texture and colour in the borders of this garden. This was a walled garden that was formal but at the same time so many ideas could be taken away. I loved the copper beech hedges at two ends drawing you through.
The cornered beds looked great from every angle and also drew you in. This design looked like it could be transferred quite easily to a smaller garden setting. We really can get inspiration from garden visits.
Long border strips (loved the Jap Anemones) behind the cornered plantings and in front of the deep red beech hedge were lush with foliage and neat, solid planting. They made me just sigh…
On leaving the walled garden I found a stone sign in a hedge of Yew and realised I could have had a different view if I had entered from this car park side. I was making a hasty exit back to the car with the rain getting harder. My travelling companion daughter and OH were waiting for me there.
A very wet bird table caught my eye outside the walled garden. There were bird feeders on tree branches but what was I seeing in the distance? I walked on (getting distracted for a moment or two by a wildlife pond nearby).
I found I had wandered into a woodland garden with bamboo, azaleas and rhododendrons (not in flower). I was also in a Woodland Secrets adventure playground that looked like it could double up as a theatre space. Even in its muddy state it had a magic about it.
Making our garden spaces magical isn’t as hard as you might expect. As you garden, you get braver and more confident in what you like and will find you try new things. Your garden is personal to you and will grow with you and your needs for the space you have. Lol… I like to leave enough grass space to pitch up a tent. Strange but true! Do I go camping... no ;-)
What I loved about the walled garden at Castle Fraser was its use of architecture in its hedging and the deep colours that were included in the plantings. I bet it looks fantastic in winter. Yes, it was a formal garden, but when walking through I felt a sense of personal space too. Perhaps that was because a lot of the plants were favourites of mine and I am exploring colour more myself.
I’m delighted to have a garden visit post as my first one up for 2013. I really do hope to go on more garden wanders this year. I also plan to chat more about propagating plants as this is something that interests me. Randomly, for me, I am considering growing tomatoes in my small greenhouse this year! Oh yes… and this year... I will finish my wildlife pond :-0
I’m thinking January will likely be a bit of a birdy blog post month but I hope to throw in some garden/plant stuff too. The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch is at the end of the month and I’ve had some thoughts on that. I've a post due on my seed trial too.
I’m thinking February could be a bit of a flower and foliage month using the heaps of photos that I’d love to share. However, when it comes to the weather, blogging and gardenwatching predictions aren’t always that accurate as we all know ;-)
For 2013, I really want to get my garden properly back in order and exercise better blog management time. Mmm… did I not say that last year? Please do share what garden/blog plans you have. Have you any garden visit photos that are waiting to be shared? I know I’d love to see them! Wishing you all a great weekend :-D
Oh yes and one final thing... and quite a big thing... after helping with techy stuff on my blog for the last 6 years, my OH is about to start his own techy blog! He's at the tweaking and set-up stage before his first post. lol... which I might have influenced ;-) Good Luck to him and anyone else taking the blogging plunge like Angie at Angie's Garden Diaries who's recently started blogging from her Edinburgh Garden - I'm sure she'd love more visitors :-D
This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in January 2013.