The magical story of the restoration of Scottish treasure Gordon Castle’s Walled Garden is one of perseverance, triumph over nature and great imagination, and now it also has an ending in sight. 2020 has been announced as the completion date of this extraordinary project, which has seen the transformation of a derelict former raspberry garden in Moray’s Spey Valley into the largest fully productive walled garden in Scotland and the inspiration for a dedicated lifestyle brand.
Since 2013, owners Angus and Zara Gordon Lennox have worked closely with leading British garden designer Arne Maynard to give the eight-acre garden a new lease of life.
During its heyday, the garden provided an abundance of fruit, vegetables, cut flowers and herbs for the castle and estate, as well as providing employment for many local people.
It was laid mainly to raspberries in the 1950s and run as a commercial soft fruit farm during the latter half of the last century. During its best years, over 50 tons of fruit were harvested. Eventually, it became uneconomic and was kept on a low maintenance programme to preserve its integrity and the 249 espaliered fruit trees that lined the walls.
Over the past five years, the 15th-century plot has been painstakingly restored – a task that has been no easy feat. From an overgrown grass field, the garden now has four considerable vegetable beds, four colour-themed cut flower beds, perennial vegetable beds and a newly planted orchard with 54 cherry trees. There is a beautiful quince and wild strawberry meadow, a wild grass maze and even an outdoor amphitheatre. Lavender ribbons form the central heart of the garden and are used in the award-winning gin Gordon Castle Gin, sold at 1,000 outlets across Europe including Harrods, Fortnum & Mason and Marks & Spencer, and distilled into oil for its bath and body ranges, as well as providing much needed sustenance for the honey bees. A natural children’s play area has been created from reclaimed estate materials, encouraging children to discover natural elements and determine their own play time. This winter, the south east corner is the subject of development with all varieties of soft fruit being planted ahead of next year’s season and over 48,000 bricks laid by hand to define the edges of the beds.
Everything in the garden has a purpose, whether it’s grown for the range of lifestyle products, for the café or to sell in the potting shed.
What is being created is not only a wonderful visitor attraction but also a world-class luxury brand, with over 250 product lines including an aromatic chamomile loose-leaf tea, homemade chutney containing fresh, homegrown chillies and natural beauty products ranging from salt scrubs to body lotions, where every item is fragranced by essential oils derived from the garden’s plants and herbs. This ambitious, £1.2m restoration has also resulted in the employment of 65 local staff, all of whom have taken the ongoing project of safeguarding a traditional Scottish estate to their hearts.
GORDON CASTLE SCOTLAND FOCHABERS, MORAY, SCOTLAND IV32 7PQ +44 (0)1343 612315