How to make dried flower wreaths

October 3, 2018By Jennifer Kelly: AdminBlog, Gardening advice No Comments

Dried Flower Wreath Tutorial

If you love the season – but don’t love the garish costumes, pumpkin pie and screaming children that tend to accompany it – then our dried flower wreaths are for you. Plus, it’s not October specific – we have ours on show all year round!

To make our dried flower wreath you will need:

  1. Secateurs or sharp scissors
  2. Jute string or florists wire
  3. A rattan wreath base (ours are 16 inch rattan bases from Hobbycraft)
  4. A selection of dried flowers

The method:

Making a wreath is much more simple than it looks. We use pre-made wreath bases to speed up the process but you can make your own from willow, birch or hazel branches twisted together and held with florist’s wire.

Choose a selection of dried flowers, often just 3 or 4 different types of flower and foliage look better than lots and lots. Always leave 2 – 3 inches of stem on the flowers and simply push them into the wreath, one type at a time, working your way round the wreath.

We find it is best to start off with foliage and larger flowers first and leave smaller flowers until the end.

Dried fruit can be really effective or even nuts and berries but beware the birds may help themselves if you hang the wreath outside!

Don’t feel you have to cover every inch of the Wreath with flowers, you need a surprising amount of flowers to do this and often just a few flowers can look just as effective. If you feel the flowers are not secure on the wreath you can tie them in using string or peg them with florists wire. One of the benefits of dried flower wreaths is that they will last many months inside or out!

Some of the dried flowers we use are:

  1. Craspedia globose
  2. Lagurus ovatus
  3. Salvia horminum
  4. Hordium jubatum
  5. Cornflower
  6. Larkspur
  7. Eryngium giganteum
  8. Nigella seed pods
  9. Daucus carota
  10. Ammi majus
  11. Cardoon and globe artichoke
  12. Orlaya grandiflora
  13. Teasel (don’t go near these with a fluffy jumper!)

To dry our cut flowers we try to cut them just before the flowers are fully open, they are much more likely to retain their colour and petals this way.

Cut them with the stems as long as possible to make them easier to hang.

Hang the flowers upside down in small bunches (only 6-8 stems) in a cool dry place with good airflow and out of direct sunlight. Bright light bleaches the colour out. We don’t recommend using a greenhouse, the flowers seem to be more prone to rotting in that environment. We string them up in the rafters of our greenhouse.

It often takes 2-4 weeks for flowers to fully dry out. It’s well worth experimenting with different species to see what works best.

We would LOVE to see how you get on so please tag us on our Facebook or Instagram page.

Top Tips For Growing Sweet Peas

June 5, 2018By Jennifer Kelly: AdminBlog, Gardening advice No Comments

Every summer our sweet peas provide us with such a beautiful and fragrant display, never failing to impress right to the end of the season.

We’ve been working with The English Garden Magazine to deliver some top gardening tips throughout the season. Taken back in April, the garden looks worlds apart from what it does here but don’t worry you can still plant sweet peas in June. Enjoy!

Is there anything specific you would love to learn or any top gardening tips you would benefit from? Just pop your comments below.

Volunteer Week

April 11, 2018By Jennifer Kelly: AdminBlog, Uncategorized No Comments

This week we are celebrating all the help we get from our wonderful volunteers in our beautiful Walled Garden!

Throughout the years we’ve had many people volunteer time helping develop the garden to its full potential and we are ever so grateful of all who come to lend a hand. We are proud to support the WWOOF program where volunteers can experience a wide range of opportunities all across the world on organic farms. We have welcomed a number or volunteers throughout the years through this program and have seen a real positive effect to the garden because of them. Check out our short video below where we interviewed two volunteers from Brazil last winter.

As well as working with the WWOOF program, many of our volunteers come from the local area, keen to help us complete this historic project. One of our regulars, Margaret has been with us for over four years now.We managed to steal a second of Margaret’s precious time to ask about her volunteering experience.

“I started volunteering at the beginning of the restoration of the Walled Garden and just love seeing the progress that has been made. I’ve learnt so much about gardening from planting to growing apricots and step over apples. It’s a real team effort and we all work hard – it’s kept me fit during my retirement that’s for sure! My favourite part of the garden would have to be the amphitheatre. It’s such a unique addition, especially for this area, and it’s so lovely to see the families gather in summer when we have outdoor theatre performances. This year will see lots of progression in the garden and I can’t wait to be a part of that.”

We too are a fan of our outdoor performances and with over five lines up including Pride and Prejudice, Dr Dolittle and The Midnight Gang it will be a jammed packed schedule. Find out more details here.

Volunteers at Gordon Castle Walled Garden

We love to get our volunteers involved with as wide a range of jobs in the garden as possible. You can expect to do everything from weeding, seed sowing and planting out to harvesting, cutting, arranging and drying flowers and decorating the café and shop. We’re always happy to teach volunteers about what we are doing so no previous gardening experience is necessary. We take volunteers Monday to Friday from 10am-4pm and are very flexible as to when and how long you would want to work. We also offer a free friends of the Walled Garden membership, a bowl of soup for lunch and free garden produce depending on what is available to all our volunteers.

We truly appreciate all the help we get as it is invaluable to the garden and to our business. As a big thank you we are hosting our 4th birthday garden party on the 7th July to celebrate all our volunteers, staff and their families. There will be live music, a bbq and lots of craft cider to enjoy. You are all invited!

If you would like to volunteer in the garden, we would love to hear from you! Please send your CV and details to info@gordoncastlescotland.com. 

New Head Gardener Appointed

January 11, 2018By Jennifer Kelly: AdminBlog, Gardening advice 3 Comments

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.

Ed Bollom First Blog Post Head Gardener

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!

A Fond Farewell to John

November 30, 2017By Jennifer Kelly: AdminBlog 2 Comments

John, our Head Garder, is leaving us today as he and his family explore a new life south of the border. John has been integral in the development of the garden to date and we wish them all the best in their new, exciting adventure.

To see us out in the proper fashion, John has written one final blog.

John here to update you on our November activity in the garden. We recently joined the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms UK (WWOOF) which is an international volunteering scheme for people who would like to gain experience on farms, gardens and smallholdings. The idea is that people work with us in the garden in exchange for accommodation and food. We had our first WWOOFer’s recently who came from USA to work in the garden and sample life in Scotland. The five ladies worked extremely hard and we really appreciated their enthusiasm and were sad to see them leave. We have two more WWOOFer’s joining us for three weeks in December and I’m sure there will be many more over the coming year.

WWoofers visit to Gordon Castle Walled Garden

We are in the process of re-designing the four cut flower beds which I’m sure will be an interesting project. The colour themes will be the same but many new varieties of plants will be introduced including more perennials than we have grown in the past. This will help increase the early season interest and range of flowers and will include plants such as roses and peonies. The beds will be intersected by broad paths which will provide easy access and allow us to work on the growing spaces without having to stand on them too often. Please do watch out for the progress we make as I’m sure they will look fantastic.

Crocuses in Autumn light at Gordon Castle Walled Garden

Work has also begun towards introducing the next section of apple step overs, which will be planted around the Soft Fruit Garden. Before the trees are planted later in the winter, the support structures have to be erected as well as the metal edging around each row. There will be over sixty Scottish variety apple trees to plant this winter out of a total of four hundred and fifty all of which will be planted around the perimeter of the garden.

Step over apples in autumn at Gordon Castle Walled Garden

As with previous years we are planting thousands of spring flowering bulbs which include daffodils, tulips and anemones. It’s a very satisfying task as we know how fabulous they will look in just a few short months.

The weather conditions this year have meant that we have been able to grown some supersized vegetables, especially the brassicas which have enjoyed all the rain in the summer months. Mark is pictured below proudly displaying said vegetables!

Mark with giant cabbage Gordon Castle Walled Garden

And to finish off my final post, a little touch of winter wonderland for you all. Hope to see you soon Scotland!

Winter-Wonderland-at-Gordon-Castle-Walled-Garde

Best of luck John,  from everyone at Gordon Castle Walled Garden.