‘She stands in tattered gold

Tossing bits of amber, and jade, jewels of a year grown old November!’

(Zephyr Ware Tarver (1886-1974)

The gardeners are hard at work with a spring in their step and spring on their minds; planning ahead, clearing and cultivating flower beds ready for the big ‘plantathon!!’ There are 8000 bulbs to go into the ground this month; twenty five varieties of tulips, and ten of daffodils left to mature and grow over the winter months to provide a spectacular welcome to spring when the flowers emerge  in March 2023. Unfortunately older bulbs, in general, do not provide such a show of colour during the second year, so last year’s bulbs have already been unearthed and donated to eager gardeners. However, an experimental planting of large tubs and pots will combine older and new bulbs, awaiting results in due course!

Overall the garden is being ‘ put to bed’  for the winter, the last weeds removed, old fruit canes pruned out and new ones tied up ready for next year’s growth.

Soon it will be time to hang Christmas decorations, planned for the last week of November to celebrate the start of special Christmas afternoon teas which start on Saturday 26th and served in the café right up until Christmas. Check availability here, booking is essential to avoid disappointment.

Then there is making the unique Gordon Castle Christmas wreaths all hand-made with natural materials from the garden and the estate beyond. On sale at the Potting Shed Shop or to order.

Would you believe it? The gardeners are still picking apples! Another load is almost ready to go to Elgin Orchards for juicing.  The seventy two varieties of apple trees growing in the gardens will be joined soon by another twenty two trees to be planted in the winter time making the Gordon Castle apple collection one of the largest in the country. A long term project is to label all the trees and create a data base of each apple with concise details of the appearance and eating characteristics of each type. Ed the head gardener reckons this might take a while!!

The twenty five varieties of colourful dahlias which have given such pleasure of colour, shape and size are being lifted to store in frost free places over the winter. Next year it is planned to add to their happy presence by the trial of even more new ones, a delightful sunny prospect.

The Gordon Castle recipe book is a celebration of the rich produce that the garden has given over the years. Colourful and informative, it makes a simple, thoughtful gift for the festive season. Why not take one home along with fresh produce from the potting shed shop to cook fresh and local in your own kitchen.

The Walled Garden is a peaceful place to rest far from the hustle and bustle around. Come, recharge your batteries and perhaps take a little of its goodness home with you.

Open from 10am till 4pm each week.

The Garden Café is open 11am till 3pm Wednesday to Sunday, serving garden produce where possible.

Here are some tasty recipes!


A delicious relish with roasts and grills
1.35kg (3lb) cooking apples – peeled cored and sliced
85g (3oz) root ginger – peeled and grated
The juice of 2 lemons
1 teacup of water
450g (1lb) granulated sugar
1 level teaspoon chilli flakes (optional)

Wash and sterilise up to 10 jars 250 ml capacity.  Put the sliced apples, ginger, lemon juice and water into a deep pan bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.  Add the sugar and stir continuously till the mix boils, reduce the heat and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and add chilli if liked.  I jar some without chilli and some with to cater for all tastes. Serve with roasts, fish and a tangy cheese. Store in a cool place and use within 2 months. To extend the ‘shelf life’ add 1 teaspoon of citric acid before bottling.


550g (1 ¼ lb) crab apples
550g (1 ¼ lb) apples make sure some have a red skin – washed and quartered

Cover with water and simmer for at least 1 hour till the juices flow and the fruit is soft and mushy. Strain through a jelly bag or a sieve lined with muslin.

To each 600mls (1pint) of juice
300g (10oz) granulated sugar
Add 1 tablespoon Gordon Castle Plum Gin to finish – see below

Pour the juice into a deep sauce pan, stir in the sugar on a very low heat till dissolved. Simmer, stirring occasionally, till the jelly begins to thicken (approx 20 minutes). Test by dropping a small spoonful onto a cold plate, if it wrinkles to the touch when cool the jelly is ready. Do not boil further. Cool in the pan a little and before pouring stir in 1 tablespoon of Gordon Castle Plum Gin for each batch as above. Pour into sterilised jars and seal. Label and store in a cool place.

Serve with cheeses, game and smoked fish and meats.  Some like it spread on a warm oven scone.

Kindly written by Liz Ashworth for Gordon Castle Walled Garden.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *