Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness

October 29, 2019By Jennifer Kelly: AdminBlog No Comments

As I walked through Fochabers my way into work this morning I couldn’t help but notice that autumn is coming early this year. Skeins of geese are appearing among the all too familiar rain clouds, the light is beginning to mellow out and there is a definite chill in the air. The beech and birch are always the first to change on the hills but in the walled garden it’s the plum trees that start dropping their leaves first. Our friendly Robins have re-appeared and follow us about as we move from job to job, harvesting the last of the runner beans, picking apples and deadheading the dahlias, I wonder where they go during the summer? I love to see the change in seasons, working with the rhythms of nature keeps my job interesting and ever changing.

Funnily enough it is during the autumn that gardener’s minds are filled with images of spring. Now is the time plant spring bulbs and you’re still not too late to get down to the local garden center and pick up the likes of  tulips, daffodils, irises, bluebells and snow drops. We’re planning an extravaganza of tulips for next year, a thoroughly wet and miserable September has given me the excuse to get into the office and plan bright and vibrant displays of these wonderful flowers. It seems that coppers and browns are going to be in fashion next year, but fashion is for people who don’t want to think for themselves so we’ve chosen 23 different varieties in almost every colour of the rainbow!

To make your pots really spectacular next spring why not try planting a ‘bulb lasagna’ to get a really dense and full display. Layer your spring bulbs one on top of the other with the largest and latest flowering varieties at the bottom of the pot and the smaller, earlier ones at the top. Daffodils planted below blue muscari (or ‘Grape Hyacinth’) make a fantastic combination. You need fairly large and deep pots to give you enough room for larger bulbs, the first layer should go about 10 inches deep and be covered with 2 inches of compost before planting the next layer. Leave an inch or so between the bulbs to allow some room for the shoots from the layer below to grow through. Always try to cover the top layer with at least 3 inches of compost. If your pots are frost proof just find a sheltered spot in the garden and you should see the first shoots appear next February.

Every good gardener takes an interest in compost and we have big plans to start making our own here at Gordon Castle. With a background in organic gardening I’m well aware of the importance of looking after the health of our soil. Up until now we’ve brought in 20 tons of horse manure every year to feed the garden. Adding well-rotted horse and farmyard manure is a fantastic way to improve your soil and get better, healthier crops but there are always risks when you bring in materials from outside; especially from perennial weeds and pesticide residues. Garden compost is the crème de la crème of soil improvers and if you have the space you should try and make your own. The key to good compost is to turn it regularly, every two or three weeks if you’ve got the energy. A properly managed compost heap should get above 600C and will kill off any weed seeds or pests and diseases. With any luck by the end of the month we’ll have built the finest compost heaps in Scotland, I’ll keep you posted!

It’s a mad rush to harvest the last of the summer vegetables before the first frosts, we’ve got runner beans and tomatoes coming out of our ears! The courgettes have just finished but the pumpkin and squash look promising this year, it’s great to see their knobbly colorful shapes emerging as the foliage dies down. Our apple trees have produce a modest but good quality harvest, most of which are on their way to Thistly Cross to be made into cider, but we have plenty left over to try out, almost 60 varieties in total. There’s nothing like a crisp Scottish apple, what a shame most people never get a change to enjoy them!

I have to keep a close eye on the winter veg from now on, rabbits and pigeons aren’t the only pests in the garden, I often see the chefs eyeing up our leeks and cabbages at this time of year. There’s nothing more annoying than tell-tail footprints in the vegetable patch and mysterious gaps in a row of leeks. It’s well worth holding on until the frost has sweetened up the likes of neeps and parsnips and we’re on strict rationing through the winter months to ensure there is always something from the garden in the café, I’d never live it down if we ran out of Brussels’s sprouts before Christmas!

So long Summer

September 16, 2019By Jennifer Kelly: AdminBlog No Comments

The season is turning and quite frankly I’ll be glad to see the back of a pretty gloomy summer! We should be busy harvesting plums as I write this, but we’ve had the worst crop in years. The combination of a dry spring followed by a cold and wet summer has hit the trees hard and our yield is down by almost 70%, we barely have enough fruit to make the usual batch of plum gin and only a handful have been available for our visitors. At almost 60 years old, many of the trees growing against the walls are reaching the end of their lives and soon we’ll have to think about replacing them. It seems a shame to take away old trees but it opens up all sorts possibilities for interesting new varieties.

Whilst many flowers are past their best by now, our humble Dahlias seem to go from strength to strength. At last they’ve out-grown the threat of slug attack and are producing bloom after bloom to brighten up the garden in the late summer sunshine (when we’re lucky enough to get any!). I love the variety and exuberance of the flowers, we grow all sorts of different shapes and sizes, the solid apricot pop-poms of ‘Linda’s Baby’ are always a popular with florists but my favourite is the magnificent ‘Café au Lait’ with its huge creamy waterlily like flowers.

There are a few other gems still going strong in the cut flower beds; Rudbeckia with their golden yellow flowers, deep purple Japanese anemones and of course sweet peas in their hundreds filling the walled garden with perfume. Above all else it is the sunflowers that cheer me up when summer is coming to an end, they’re so simple and reliable, we grow a variety called ‘Red Sun’ that towers above its neighbours with glorious marmalade coloured flowers and songbirds love to feast on their seeds through the autumn.

Way back in 1823 the 5th Duke of Gordon sponsored an act of parliament to legalise the distilling of whisky in the highlands, almost 200 years later a very different and more fragrant type of distillation is occurring at Gordon Castle. We’ve been bust cutting back our rosemary and lavender and collecting the flowers and foliage in preparation for extracting their essential oils. If we were serious lavender farmers the best time to cut the flowers would be back in July when the percentage of oil is at its highest, but we can’t bare to deprive our bees and our visitors of the chance to enjoy them so we wait until later in the season. We load 800 litres of flowers and foliage into our still along with 100 litres of water which is then brought to the boil. As the steam rises up through the flowers the oils are extracted and condensed through as series of coils emerging as pure golden oil at the end of the process. For every 800 litres of lavender (or rosemary, mint and geranium) we get just 200ml of oil which then goes into our Flower Garden range of bath and beauty products.

It might seem strange for a productive gardener but I’m always slightly reluctant to start harvesting the wonderful plants that we grow, it seems such a shame to ruin a perfect row of cabbages by digging them up! At this time of year the beds are starting to empty; the onions have been lifted for drying, the peas have been pulled up and the potatoes are rapidly being boiled, fried and roasted in the café, leaving behind big patches of bare soil in the vegetable beds. I can’t hate to see empty space in a kitchen garden, we fill in as much as possible with fast growing salad crops but there are only so many lettuces that we need! The answer to this problem lies in what are known as ‘green manure crops’, these are fast growing plants that suppress weeds, add nutrients and improve soil structure. If you have an area that would otherwise stay empty through the winter, try sowing mustard, phacelia, alfalfa or fenugreek seeds to fill the space and hold the soil together. Simply cut them down and dig them into the soil in the spring, it’s a great way to add organic matter to your vegetable beds.

We’ll be busy through September harvesting apples and preparing for our annual garden market on the Saturday the 28th. This year the market will be bigger than ever, it’s a great way to enjoy the garden with live music, craft stalls, a barbecue and of course plenty of fresh produce from the garden to try out. As always everyone is welcome so drop in and say hello and if possible please bring some sunshine with you!

Farewell August…

August 29, 2019By Jennifer Kelly: AdminBlog, Gardening advice No Comments

August is always a good month in the garden, the beds are full, visitors are streaming through the gates and the gardeners are happy. Harvesting is the biggest job at this time of year, it can be hard to keep up with the demand for fresh peas, new potatoes, kale, beetroot and salad leaves for the café, but it’s a lovely to see the garden earning its keep. For me one of the greatest pleasures of the summer is harvesting the first Apricots. They start off firm and tangy and slowly turn soft and fragrant as they ripen, I just can’t help tasting them as I work my way along the south facing wall picking them.

It’s amazing the difference a couple of degrees can make! The weather has gradually warmed up and plants that I thought were a write off back in June have started to flourish. French beans are twisting their way to the top of the poles and the pumpkins are snaking their way out of the veg beds onto the paths. Our courgette plants have doubled in size in just a week and in the blink of an eye their tender little fruit will turn into whacking great marrows. Our leeks are starting to bulk up and the onions are getting a good baking in the sun ready to collect and string up in the potting shed in a couple of weeks time.

After a difficult few months, at long last our tomatoes are ripening. They’ve battled their way through nutrient deficiencies, cold weather and an overly acidic water supply, but now we’re being rewarded with trusses of colourful fruit from 14 different varieties. Tangy ‘Orange Fizz’, super sweet ‘Golden Crown’ and the exotically striped ‘Green Zebra’ are brightening up the green house but to be honest you can’t beat plain old ‘Gardner’s Delight’ for taste and reliable cropping. We grow our tomatoes alongside big pots of basil, both plants like the same conditions, with the addition of some stringy mozzarella and a little olive oil you’ve got an instant summery salad!

Anyone who works outdoors can be in little doubt that the climate is changing. I have no time for the small minority of politicians who pretend global warming isn’t happening! As gardeners we’re finding the weather increasingly unpredictable. It seems we’re getting long spells of extreme conditions; from weeks of unseasonably cold and wet weather this summer, to almost three months without a drop of rain last summer. We’re trying to do our bit in the Walled Garden, we only use biodegradable plastic bags and recyclable punnets for our produce, our vegetables go from plot to plate using zero fossil fuels for transport, and I’m pretty sure all the trees we’re planting will offset any carbon emitted by our tractor and mowers.

There’s plenty you can do in your own garden to help combat climate change. Most of the fruit and vegetables we consume are brought in from abroad so growing your own produce has to be one of the most environmentally friendly hobbies possible, cutting down on packaging, transport and refrigeration. Planting fruit trees will help absorb carbon and whilst I’m as fond of a neatly cut grass as the next man, why not try turning part of your lawn into a wildflower meadow? Meadows only need be cut once or twice a year, they’re wonderfully beneficial for insects and save you the bother of mowing every week!

In between all the harvesting, we spent August gearing up for our Big Flower Weekend on 17th & 18th August. To celebrate all that is great about Scottish grown cut flowers, we invited local florists and flower farmers to the garden to give talks and demonstrations and decorated the garden and potting shed with all sorts of wonderful blooms. Our own cut flower beds were a riot of colour at the moment, overflowing with dahlias, scabious, sunflowers, cosmos, gladioli and a host of other floral delights. Our next big event is our Garden Market on 28th September. Head over to our events page to find out more!

I love the garden at the height of summer, everywhere you look plants are spilling over, bees, butterflies and birds are darting to and fro, mice are scuttling across the paths and gardeners are busy hoeing, watering and tending to the plants. The walled garden seems to take on a life of its own in August, all we can do is try and contain its exuberance a little and do our best to harvest the fruits of our labour!

Blooming Success for Flower Weekend

August 20, 2019By Jennifer Kelly: AdminBlog, Events 1 Comment

Hundreds flocked to Gordon Castle Walled Garden in Fochabers last weekend (17th & 18th August) for the Flower Farmers Big Weekend.

Part of a nationwide initiative launched by Flowers from the Farm, there were over 100 events across Britain celebrating home-grown flowers. The initiative aims to encourage both florists  and consumers to consider home-grown varieties. Flowers from the Farm say, “Today 90% of the flowers sold through UK florists, supermarkets and wholesalers are imported not just from Holland but flown from as far afield as Ecuador, Colombia, Kenya and even Ethiopia. Flowers from the Farm aims to reduce travel miles by promoting locally-grown flowers and developing a network of British cut flower growers across the country.”

So on Saturday we joined forces with this fantastic initiative and opened our garden to champion British cut flowers. Five local florists (detailed below) showed their amazing support by constructing amazing displays in various areas of the garden from the pear arch to the dipping pond!

Huge thank you to

Wild Blossom
Stephen Seedhouse
Fran Duncan
Harbour blooms
Blossoms of Lossiemouth

The garden café got on board too with edible flower cakes, floral ice cubes and fresh blooms on all the tables. Owner, Zara Gordon Lennox, also took visitors on tours across both days as well as giving out fresh bouquets. Zara says, “Despite the gusty wind and occasional shower It was fantastic to see how many people were interested in Scottish grown flowers and to be able to show them our four colour themed beds and the story of our restoration and how the florists used our flowers in so many different ways.  A big thank you to all the florists who took part and we hope to build on the event for next year.”

We are looking to run this event again next year so watch this space for dates. In the meantime, our annual Garden Market is on Saturday 28th September and is a celebration of all home-grown produce. The family event will celebrate the best in fresh seasonal garden produce from fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs and plants. We will have flower and wreath demonstrations, hands-on displays from local artisans, children’s play, free garden entry and garden trail. We will also be welcoming local crafters and artists for the event. Find out more about this event here.

The garden will be alive with music from local musician Lucy Lloyd. We will have gin cocktails, craft cider and beer. For the foodies we’re offering a delicious BBQ with particular focus on our amazing apples and chillies (of which we have an abundance!) 🌶🍏

Entry is £3 per person (under 16s are free) and will go towards the restoration of the garden.

The invasion of the slugs

July 22, 2019By Jennifer Kelly: AdminBlog, Gardening advice No Comments

The invasion of the slugs

It seems unusual to me to be working in a woolen jumper and thick overcoat during July, but then I’ve only been in Scotland for four years and I’m coming to expect almost anything from the weather this far north. The plants in the Walled Garden are as disgruntled as I am this summer. Our courgettes are sulking, refusing to flower or even put on any growth, and the French beans look decidedly sorry for themselves.

No season is perfect for every plant in the garden, and what is bad for one variety is often good for another, our brassicas are loving the cool temperatures and moist soil with huge healthy Kale leaves and wonderful Romanesco cauliflowers leading the way. Never count your chickens however, there’s invasion of Diamondback moths on the way and we’ve already seen the first of them. Tiny little buff brown ‘T’ shaped moths flitting here and there through the cabbage patch, their larva will strip a plant within just a few days if not dealt with. If you see the moths in your garden at home keep a close eye on all your cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli and kale. Regular squishing sessions should keep the caterpillars under control, but it’s best to protect your crops with very fine mesh such as ‘Enviromesh’ to avoid the problem all together.

For the first time slugs have been a major problem in the Walled Garden this year, our runner beans have been decimated, along with nasturtiums and lupins. Whilst I’m doing my upmost to destroy these dastardly mollusks, my children are collecting them up, feeding them and keeping them as pets! They inevitably escape and leave slimy trails through the house as they make their way back to the garden to gorge on our precious vegetables!

Whilst there is not much I can do about my children, there are plenty of ways to deal with slugs and snails. If you have a small garden or green house, beer traps work very well, sink a jam jar into the soil and half fill with beer and the slugs will sniff it out and spend the last few moments of their existence happily inebriated. On a larger scale ferric phosphate slug pellets can be effective, they’re certified organic and will not harm birds or wildlife. The traditional metaldehyde-based pellets won’t be available to buy from next year, and I don’t see the point in growing beautiful healthy vegetables and then surrounding them with toxic chemicals! If you are truly overrun, introducing nematodes into your soil may be the answer. Tiny, microscopic parasites, nematodes can dramatically reduce slug populations if applied at the right time of year. A product called ‘Nemaslug’ is widely available for amateur gardeners and is highly recommended.

Although the garden is growing very slowly this summer, the plants in the greenhouses are thriving. The cucumbers and melons are shooting upwards with the first baby fruits showing and our ornamental gourds are starting to produce their amazing knobbly little squash. With all glasshouse crops, especially those grown in pots, it’s really important to feed regularly. Don’t believe claims on compost bags such as ‘enough nutrients to feed plants for 6 weeks’, we’ve already seen nutrient deficiencies in both our cucumbers and tomatoes. We apply liquid high potassium feed twice a week, and every month with give our plants both iron and calcium. A sure sign of a hungry plant is pale green new growth or little brown or yellow patches on the leaves.

Out on the walls our fruit trees seem to be growing well with plenty of apples, pears and plums starting to swell up. I’m always excited to see the first figs ripening in July. It’s a competition between me and the birds to get them as soon as they’re ready (the birds normally win) but there’s nothing better than eating them on a summers morning straight from the tree, still warm from the sunshine.

We’re picking cut flowers almost every day now to decorate the café, cottages and castle and we always make up a few extra bouquets for our visitors to take away and brighten up their homes. The sweet peas are the most popular with their bright colours and wonderful scent. There’s nothing like fresh flowers to show someone your love or appreciation and often the most common flowers can make a wonderfully simple arrangement. Alchemilla, Sweet William and Nigella go together to make a beautiful and vibrant combination and you can add in larger flowers such as roses or irises to create a more elaborate bouquet. If that sounds too complicated just come to the walled garden and we’ll do all the hard work for you!

From the Highlands, with love

June 18, 2019By Jennifer Kelly: AdminBlog, Gordon Castle, Wedding No Comments

Swapping toasty climates for a cool Highland breeze, Emily and Ian joined us all the way from Florida last June. Although from the US, Emily and her husband Ian had spent a great deal of time in Elgin while working out of Lossiemouth with the RAF. It was during this time that the Highlands became a special place in their hearts and they wanted nothing more than to share it with the people they love!

Emily and Ian invited 22 of their closest friends and family as they tied the knot in the Orangery before moving to the upper octagonal hall, beautifully decorated by Wild Gorse Studio.  The Orangery was then transformed allowing guests to dance the night away to The Dandy Ceilidh Band. 

The details

Venue – Gordon Castle Estate
Photographer – Steven Gallagher Photography
Band – The Dandy Ceilidh Band. 
Florist – Wild Gorse
Cake – Laura Love Lane
Hair – Suzanne McMahon Hair

The Diversity of Life

May 30, 2019By Jennifer Kelly: AdminBlog, Gardening advice No Comments

The Diversity of Life

One of the benefits of working as a gardener is that you have to time to notice changes and rhythms in the natural world. This year we’ve seen a big increase in the numbers of both insects and birds in the garden. We’ve been invaded by ladybirds! A mild winter and warm spring have brought them out of hibernation in droves and we’re very glad to see them feasting on the aphids that have ruined our crop of tulips in the cut flower beds. Every garden has its own ecosystem with each different layer of life connected to the next. The fungus and bacteria in the soil support plants that in turn feed the insects that feed the birds and small mammals that then feed the bigger animals such as buzzards, owls and foxes.

What we do as gardeners can make a huge difference the balance of life in the garden. Over the years we’ve been trying to encourage more insects by planting wild flowers, using less pesticides and by gardening in a more organic way, and It seems that this year all of our hard work has paid off. We’ve been blessed with a huge variety of birds coming into the walled garden and making it their home. Alongside the regular visitors (oystercatchers, swallows and robins) we’ve seen blue tits, chaffinches, thrushes and we even have some wagtails nesting in our bug hotel in the play area.

The spring display seems to have come and gone in the blink of an eye this season, the daffodils and tulips flowered their socks off and disappeared by the beginning of the month. Even though the fruit blossom is almost finished, the bees have done their job and our trees are laden with fruit, we’re all set for a heavy crop this year. The herb beds are looking lovely at them moment. Full of flavoursome and fragrant plants, they are as beautiful as they are productive, the cloud pruned rosemary hedges are covered with sky blue flowers making them look like rivers winding their way through the plants. We love to see the chefs making their way through the herbs, foraging for flowers and leaves to brighten up their dishes.

Now is a great time to plant out sweet peas, being hardy annuals we could have planted them much earlier, but if you wait until May they hit the ground running and soon shoot up their wigwams. Building a wigwam is dead easy and if done properly should be strong enough to take the weight of the plants and stand up to strong winds. The first step is to put down a tape measure along the length of your plot and use a strong stick or ideally a metal bar to make a row of holes 1 foot deep and 2 feet apart, make another row of holes opposite the first ones 2 feet away. Push eight foot canes into all of the holes and use the heal for your foot to firm them in. Cross each pair of canes over each other and tie them together as tightly as you can about five and a half feet from the ground, if you don’t tie them tightly the whole structure will collapse later in the year! Finally place canes horizontally into the ‘V’ of each pair and again tie them tightly to brace up the whole structure. As well as sweet peas, wigwams are really useful for runner beans, climbing French beans or even Morning Glory.

May has to be one of our busiest months and we’re making the most of the lovely hot and dry weather to plant out hundreds of flower, herb and vegetable plants, it’s a race against time to get them all in the ground before they out-grow their pots! We’re a little late in the veg beds this year, there seemed little point sowing into bone dry soil, so we waited for the more clement conditions and it seems at last we’re getting some proper ‘growing’ weather. We’ve seeded rows of carrots, parsnips, beetroot and planted out cabbages, broccoli and cauliflower and there’s plenty more to come! The brown neatly raked soil is giving way to the lush green of young plants and it’s a great feeling to see the garden fill up again.

All thanks to Charlie | Real Life Wedding

April 3, 2019By Jennifer Kelly: AdminBlog, Wedding 3 Comments

October is one of our favourite wedding seasons at Gordon Castle –  full of colour and gorgeous sun-kissed evenings. When Phil and Katie were married here on 27th October 2018, their day was no exception. Surrounded by close friends and family, it was a weekend-long celebration.

Pre-wedding celebrations began on the Friday by taking full advantage of the estate surroundings with clay pidgeon shooting followed by lunch in the Orangery.

After a relaxing evening and family breakfast, the time had come for final wedding preparations – and one very special friend to take his place.

“From the word go, I could see that there was a very special four-legged friend in this relationship”, says Kyra, Events Manager at Gordon Castle, “Charlie was just the most lovable black labrador who seemed to touch the hearts of everyone he met. Phil and Katie explained how important his role on the day was and we did everything in our power to make sure he was involved from start to finish.”

All thanks to Charlie…

“Phil and I first met in Greyfield Woods near Bath. I was walking Charlie in the woods and noticed that a film was being shot on the field by the woods. We finished our walk and cut back through the field to have a little look. Phil was in 4×4 ambulance as he was the medic on the film set.

Charlie being Charlie had to go and say hello, frisk him for food and try to jump into his ambulance, not good as he was very soggy! After apologising for Charlie we started chatting, we chatted for a hour and that lead to dog walks together and now a new life in Scotland. “

Bridal Q & A

My favourite memory from the day was…

It has to be exchanging our vows in front of an open fire – it was simply beautiful!

My favourite part of Gordon Castle was…

I just loved how homely Gordon Castle felt, it really was a home from home.

The most hilarious moment was… 

Our evening entertainment of the ceilidh dancing as many of our guest had never been to one before and all loved it (enormous amounts of gin gave us some very funny memories!)

If I could change one thing it would have been… 

The food was outstanding but in hindsight, we would of done with slightly more of it! It’s a long day so don’t underestimate how hungry your guests might be.

Top tip for future brides/grooms

We thought that being able to stay at the castle the night before our wedding was a massive bonus as it allowed our families to stay and have a wonderful meal in the evening then relax in a family environment. 

We would also like to say thank you to all the staff who helped to provide us with a truly magical wedding. 

Suppliers

Photographer: Chris Henderson
Groom outfit: McCalls, Elgin
Florist: Wild Blossom, Forres
Make-up: Georgia Simpson Make-up
Band: Dandy Ceilidh Band
Cake: Couture Wedding Cakes by Sweetcheeks, Fyvie
Rings: Benchworks, Elgin

Chris Henderson Photography

“For me, it was just a beautiful setting with landscaped grounds and fields on all sides. The clay pigeon shooting offered a fun and unusual start to the day’s photographs. The castle itself (especially the guest rooms and the orangery was gorgeous too. And the fact it’s exclusive use means there’s no busy car park or anyone not connected to the wedding wandering about. Loads of big plusses from a photographers point of view!”

Discover your perfect wedding at Gordon Castle. 

View the full gallery below

 

Our favourite annual event is back…

March 29, 2019By Jennifer Kelly: AdminBlog, Gordon Castle 2 Comments

Our favourite annual event is back…

 

From caber tossing to equestrian stunt riders, Gordon Setter gatherings to chainsaw displays; the Gordon Castle Highland Games and Country Fair returns on Sunday 19th May 2019 with an eclectic mix of entertainment for all the family. Entering its ninth year, the annual Fochabers Games looks set to welcome 10,000 national and international visitors to the one-day family event in the north east of Scotland.

Held in the historic grounds of Gordon Castle, the event brings together traditional Scottish entertainment and country sports performances to ensure something for everyone. The heavy events arena will play host to the Scottish 28lb Weight for Distance Championships, as well as the ever-popular caber toss, massed pipe band parade and tug o’ war.

Having featured in several BBC and STV productions, Riders of the Storm will be headlining the country sports arena and delivering an exhilarating equestrian performance showcasing incredible skill, balance and control. In addition, the arena will also feature regular favourites Mordor Gundogs, Ore Country Terriers and Speyside Falconry Display.

Also headlining the Country Sports arena is the castle’s latest campaign. Launched in February 2018, the owners Angus and Zara Gordon Lennox have sent out a nationwide plea to save the Gordon Setter breed from disappearing as Kennel Club UK* reports a 60% decline in registrations. In a bid to raise awareness for the dog, Angus and Zara have invited Gordon Setters and their owners to join them in the Country Sports arena at 12pm on 19th May as they attempt the largest gathering of this iconic breed.

Another new addition for 2019, Gig at the Games will be held on the evening of Friday 17th May as part of the Highland Games programme. The musical performance will feature multi-award-winning folk band RURA, supported by local favourites Calum Jones and the Trad Project.

For foodies and craft lovers, our two dedicated marquees return once again to showcase the finest local artisans and crafters. For gin lovers, the Gordon Castle Gin bar will continue to be a popular feature in the Castle’s orangery as it showcases the award-winning botanical gin.

Together the family event – brought back to life in 2011 by the current owners – offers a diverse programme showcasing some of Scotland’s greatest talents. The event will be held in the picturesque grounds of Gordon Castle Estate in Fochabers on Sunday 19th May 2019 (10:00 – 17:00). For information about the event visit www.gordoncastle.co.uk/highland-games

And as always, we’re 100% dog friendly!

First Day Of Spring

March 20, 2019By Jennifer Kelly: AdminBlog 1 Comment

First Day of Spring

It looks as though spring has sprung early this year, our apricot trees came into flower almost six weeks earlier than last year and we’ve already enjoyed a spectacular display from the crocus. The buds on the apple and pear trees are on the brink of bursting and we’ve already seen the first plum blossom.

It’s a lovely time to work in the walled garden, not least because our seasonal gardeners have returned after the winter and the garden is starting to come back into life. The soil has been turned, the trees have been pruned and the planning completed, we all set for the season ahead.

Seed sowing has begun in earnest, starting with hardy annuals such as sweet peas, nigella and cornflower, and then continuing with the first successions of vegetables; broad beans, peas and beetroot started are soon to be followed by tomatoes, chillies, aubergine and countless others.

We’ve already seen the first bumble bees and butterflies, buff tailed and peacock respectively, and so we’re hoping our fruit trees will be well pollinated this year and give a decent crop. The spring pots have been taken out of the glasshouses to decorate the patio and around the shop. Unusually our daffodils and tulips are coming into flower at the same time this spring and so the display should look particularly spectacular this year!

I’ve given up trying to predict the weather, an early warm spell in February gave way to yet another cold snap in March, and now it seems to be warming up again. The soil is still slightly too cold to start direct sowing, but in just a couple of weeks we’ll begin filling up the salad beds and the potatoes will go in very shortly.

The cut flower beds should be better than ever this year, we’ve been busy planting dozens of perennial plants; Echinacea, Agapanthus, Liatris, and Phlox to name just a few. We have a range of over 80 varieties of fresh cut flowers available to both professional and amateur florists alike, starting with 14 different tulips varieties that should be flowering from the start of April. Please drop in or check our website for more details.

I’d like to say a big thank you to our volunteers for all of their hard work over the winter and for the help they’ll be giving us over the next few months. Any productive garden is hugely labor intensive, particularly on such a grand scale as the Walled Garden at Gordon Castle; in its heyday 40 gardeners would have tended the grounds and estate. Today the only way we can keep the garden neat and tidy is with the help of our dedicated volunteers, so thank you all very much, we couldn’t do it without you!