We have lots of exciting things planned for 2018 but none more than to kick start with a new Head Gardener, Ed Bollom. Our previous head gardener John Hawley left us in November for a new life south of the border with his family.
Ed isn’t new to our Scottish oasis, he has been a senior gardener here for several years and has been working hard on our garden project. You may recognise him from some of our YouTube garden tutorials! He is also the man behind many of our amazing photographs.
So, to introduce Ed properly to his new role, here is his first blog post!
For my first garden blog post I thought I’d explain how my horticultural career brought me to Gordon Castle.
I’ve been gardening for almost 15 years now and Gordon Castle is the seventh garden I’ve worked in. My career has taken me all over the country working in historic and botanic gardens, from Osborne House on the Isle of Wight to Chatsworth House in Derbyshire. I started my journey studying sustainable horticulture at Cannington college in Somerset, motivated by a love for working outdoors and went on to work in several gardens as part of an apprenticeship scheme run by the Professional Gardener’s Guild.
My real passion has always been for productive gardening; particularly growing fruit and vegetables. As a student I always dreamed of working in a traditional kitchen garden growing plants that would actually be used rather than simply admired!
I learnt the craft of productive gardening as the gardener in charge of the organic walled garden, nursery and orchard for the Prince of Wales at Highgrove House in Gloucestershire. I spent five fantastic years growing all the fruit, vegetables, cut flowers and herbs for the Prince and his guests. During that time I married my lovely wife Anna and we had our first child Freddie.
I first heard about the Walled Garden at Gordon Castle from my father in law, Simon McPhun, who was helping out in the early stages of the project. When Simon first showed me Arnie Maynard’s plans for the garden I thought it was far too ambitious; the kitchen garden at Highgrove was 1 acre and took all of my energy with the help of 2 other gardeners to keep it to a decent standard and here was a project to renovate a walled garden almost eight times the size!
Anna and I were happy in Gloucestershire and very busy as new parents, so we put any ideas of moving out of our minds. But I couldn’t help thinking about the walled garden project and decided that maybe we should just go and have a look at the site. When we got up to Fochabers and looked around the garden (it looked more like a building site at the time) I started to see the potential and that whilst the plans were ambitious Angus and Zara were going to make it work. It is such an unusual project I felt it was too good an opportunity to miss.
Anna, Freddie and I made the move from Gloucestershire to Moray just as we discovered that Anna was pregnant with our daughter Amelie and I started work as deputy head gardener in May 2015.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching the garden develop for the last couple of years, the garden team are fantastic and make it a friendly and productive place to work. I don’t think there is anywhere else in the country doing what we are doing on such a grand scale. Coming into my third season I feel I’m really starting to get to know the garden and hopefully can hit the ground running as Head Gardener.
I love the idea of taking this wonderful historic space and turning it into a functioning productive Garden growing the highest quality produce. Traditionally walled gardens were used to feed the great houses of our country, I like to think of the Walled Garden Project as a modern take on a very old theme. So please keep on following us on our journey, there’s plenty more to come!