In his sonnet ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day’

Shakespeare wrote:-

‘Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May!’

However, this year, months of cold wet weather may deem it more appropriate to name them

The ‘daring’ buds of May!’.

A cold wet spring slowed up growth, but, at last, eagerly anticipated, spring flowers are appearing in colourful profusion, while in defiant celebration fruit trees are laden with blossom, the fragrance pervading all corners of The Walled Garden.

Prolific blossom on apple, pear and crab apple trees points to a rich harvest come autumn time. Head gardener, Ed Bollom, explained that last year’s wet summer helped set this year’s fruiting flower buds, which, coupled with the absence of late frost, has produced a spectacular display. Pollinators such as bumble and honey bees are in full ‘buzz’ ahead. On site, bees housed in Gordon Castle hives work locally, spoilt for choice on a short fly path.

May is a ‘super busy’ month for gardeners and volunteers. At long last warmer, drier weather allows a marathon transplant of the 10000 seedlings, lined up outside the greenhouses. Germination has been excellent this year. Looking back it is not a little humbling to appreciate the wonder of mother nature for a few short weeks ago those green growing healthy plants were a dry seemingly lifeless seed!

Weeds, like time and tide, wait for no man so there is a race to complete planting during the early part of the month.

Head Gardener, Ed Bollom commented -‘By the end of May the weeds are going mad!!’ We need to keep on top of them because it is important that the garden is ship shape to welcome visitors.


UHI Moray horticulture students Mars and Craig have come to the Walled Garden on a work experience programme. They are enthusiastic learners; gardeners of the future and we wish them well.


A beautiful book written by Ruth Chivers, entitled ‘ A Day in the Garden’  describes 365 different gardens, one for each day of the year in picture and in word. Ruth has included a lovely illustrated story about Gordon Castle as one of them.

Published by Batsford Press ISBN 978 1849947893


A date for your dairy is a wonderful day out at the annual Gordon Castle Highland Games on Sunday 19th May.

Take time to enjoy the recently established herbaceous border designed by Anna Bollom wife of the head gardener. Situated directly in front of the Orangery where Walled Garden plants will be on sale. Each year centuries old giant rhododendrons flower in vibrant colour; a unique setting for an exciting programme of events and stalls.

Be sure to check out the other events we have on this year in our garden here.

The Walled Garden staff  look forward to a visit of thirty five cubs from the Fochabers’ troop. These junior gardeners will be sowing seeds, learning how to prick out seedlings before a garden walk and simple talk with Head Gardener, Ed Bollom.

Potatoes planted at the beginning of April are showing green shoots and carrot, parsnip and turnip seed has been directly sown into the vegetable beds.

The brassicas are growing well but the gardeners are always on the alert for slugs!

In the large greenhouse fourteen different varieties of tomato have been planted directly into prepared beds. This year the Walled Garden is taking part in an interesting trial in partnership with Orkney International Science Festival. Volcanic rock dust applied to fertilise only one half of the crop which will enable gardeners to establish differences by comparison of both crops grown under the same conditions.  Ed himself is taking part in the science festival this year, including the tomato trial finale. Watch for updates each month.

The cut flower trial beds, are filling up with new varieties of snap dragon and cosmos; joined this year by Zinnia a half-hardy annual which, under favourable conditions, produces prolific colourful cut flowers all summer long.

Gordon Castle asparagus is ready and cropped daily to sell in the Potting Shed Shop and will soon be joined by the first of salad crops. There is still time to grow you own – the shop is selling healthy vegetable and herb plants ready to transplant. Much sought after by gardeners top quality Felco secateurs and snips are on sale her at a special price.

The Garden Café open Wednesday to Sunday serves freshly cooked local produce. Lunch served 10am till 2.30pm. Coffee and cake till 4pm. Prior booking is required to enjoy afternoon tea served from 2pm till 4pm. Book a table here.

The Walled Garden is open every day from 10am till 4pm. May is a unique time for a garden walk: to inhale spring fragrance in the healing peace of flowers, blossom, and the plaintive call of resident oyster catchers. Book entry tickets here.


Oaty Fat Balls to Feed the Birds
115g (4oz) porridge oats
200mls (7fl oz) water

Mix together and microwave on high for 1 minutes 30 seconds.

60g (2oz) melted lard

Stir this into the hot porridge and leave the mixture to cool
Scoop into small balls when cold and use to feed the birds.
Store in an airtight plastic container in a cool place.

Great Aunt Molly’s Rhubarb
Tender stalks of rhubarb are appearing, this childhood favourite kindles many memories.
450g washed, trimmed and chopped rhubarb
1 large tablespoon of golden syrup
1 small pkt rich tea biscuits.

Gently stew the rhubarb till tender adding more syrup to taste because some rhubarbs tastes sweeter than others. Syrup is a good sweetener for this acid fruit because it rounds the flavour. Serve chilled topped with broken rich tea biscuits and perhaps some cream to pour over. An annual favourite.


Cream Crowdie
Based on a traditional Scottish recipe, a quick no cook versatile desert.

Serves 4 people
150mls double cream
Oatmeal lightly toasted in the oven or under a low grill.
15g (1/2oz) pure honey
A few drops of vanilla essence (if liked)

Whip the cream and honey together till softly thick, add a few drops vanilla essence if liked.   Beat in a handful of toasted oatmeal to stiffen the cream slightly. Serve with freshly stewed rhubarb as a dessert.

Kindly written by Liz Ashworth for Gordon Castle Walled Garden.

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