Castles are splendid places to visit, for their history and their mysteries. A bonus which many offer is a dramatic setting, enhanced by beautiful gardens. As a castle enthusiast and as a keen gardener, I love to visit castles which have drama in both their architecture and in their landscaped grounds. High summer is approaching and this is the time for maximum impact of colour and form in castle gardens around Scotland. Here is a small selection of the best to visit, many with walled gardens. Very few attempt to replicate the planting of late medieval times – the palette of plants was very restricted compared to Victorian and modern availability – but most provide a traditional, semi-formal layout near the castle, often in a walled garden, with mature woodland in the estate.
Castle Balzieland – home to the exotic Logan Botanic Gardens
Starting in the far south west,
are the most exotic in Scotland, full of rare southern hemisphere plants which are able to grow in the mild climate of the Rhins peninsula. Logan may not be known for its castle, but the ruins – the tall stump of one corner – of Castle Balzieland, pictured below, which burned down in 1500, are incorporated into the wall of the late 18th-century walled garden.
Castle Kennedy Gardens – unusual plants thanks to an unusually mild climate
A little further into Wigtownshire are Castle Kennedy Gardens
, 75 acres of sculptured landscapes and magnificent avenues, romantically situated on an isthmus around the ruins of Castle Kennedy, pictured below, and surrounded by the White and Black Lochs. Here the climate is so mild that giant echiums self-seed rampantly enough to have to be weeded out – elsewhere in Scotland these are almost impossible to grow outdoors.
Culzean Castle – Culzean Country Park's lush landscape
In Ayrshire, Culzean Castle
, pictured below, owned by the National Trust for Scotland, is surrounded by Culzean Country Park. This extensive estate encompasses lush wo...