Location: Loch Ness, Inverness
Website: Aldourie Castle website
Aldourie Castle garden has been designed by Tom Stuart-Smith. It is an ambitious modern reimagining of a traditional castle garden and grounds. It has been developed over the past four years and will be completed this year. The garden is built upon an older footprint with some historic elements remaining, such as three fantastic glasshouses and an arboretum. The garden also includes a walled garden, formal castle garden, parkland and cottage gardens.
The walled garden contains a large productive area where a range of vegetables are grown organically using techniques developed from some of the leading urban farms in America. There are also espaliered pears and apples. Additionally we also have cut flowers produced for use in the castle. There are large naturalistic mixed borders covering a range of habitats these contain a wide range of herbaceous and shrubby plants as well as Yew topiaries. There is also a Rose garden within the walled garden and a newly-planted orchard and soft fruit area just outside. The historic glasshouses are used to grow vegetables and a range of fruit trees, vines and cutting flowers. This year sees the opening of our new propagation glasshouse and potting shed.
A new garden has been created at the castle itself to give it a more refined setting. This garden consists of large naturalistic herbaceous borders, including several Beech topiaries, with a central lawn and a surrounding Yew hedge. There is an extensive terrace and smaller flower beds around the castle.
The arboretum, containing some old tree specimens, is currently the subject of an interesting regeneration project. Extensive clearing of Rhododendron ponticum and R. luteum over the past three years has opened up the space, allowing in more light. Some planting has taken place and the next phase is to continue replanting trees/shrubs and to establish an herbaceous layer.
The parkland is dotted with mature specimen trees and some tree planting has recently taken place to diversify the age structure of these trees. Extensive wildflower meadows have been sown with more to follow this year.
There are also four cottage gardens on the estate that the Aldourie gardening team look after.
Trainees at Aldourie would gain a wide variety of practical skills including all of the horticultural techniques associated with a productive walled garden with many ornamental features as well as knowledge and skills relating to the arboretum. Machinery used on site includes hedge trimmers, strimmers, and push lawn mowers.
Additionally trainees would receive in depth plant walkrounds and be given planting design training as well as receiving our own gardeners development program. It is an excellent opportunity to work alongside skilled committed gardeners and benefit from the experience of our senior staff. We aim to develop and orientate our students, guiding and encouraging them to develop an excellent foundation on which to build their careers.
This is an exciting time to be involved in a garden like this, which is still very much developing.
Placement opportunity: 1 year
Staff numbers: 5 full-time gardeners; 1 student gardener
Ease of access: Inverness railway station is 15 minutes’ drive away. Inverness Airport, which has direct flights to London, Birmingham, Bristol, Dublin and Belfast, is 30 minutes’ drive away.
Accommodation: Accommodation is not provided. Applicants must have own car, as they will be staying in the Inverness area and bus connections are limited.