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 five 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 and cut flowers are organically grown using techniques developed from some of the leading urban farms in America. There are also espaliered pears and apples as well as some soft fruit. 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 just outside. The historic glasshouses are used to grow vegetables tomatoes, cucumbers, figs and herbs. Last year saw the opening of our new propagation glasshouse which also houses our house plant collection. We have recently built a new potting shed. Our facilities are excellent.
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 opening 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.
The Aldourie gardening team also look after four cottage gardens on the estate. This year we are developing the garden of another nearby property, which is also being designed by Tom Stuart-Smith.
Trainees at Aldourie would gain a wide variety of practical skills including all of the horticultural techniques associated with a productive walled garden. Ornamental gardening will be taught, 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 walk-arounds and be given planting design training. Trainees also take part in our own staff development program. Aldourie offers 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 Aldourie, 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. The trainee must have their own car as they will be staying in the Inverness area and bus connections are limited