Location: Loch Ness, Inverness
Website: Aldourie Castle website
Aldourie Castle garden has been designed by Tom Stuart-Smith and built over the past two years. The garden is new but built upon an older footprint with some historic elements remaining, such as three fantastic glasshouses, some original pots made here by Mary Seton-Watts and an arboretum. The garden also includes a walled garden, formal castle garden and parkland.
The walled garden contains a large productive area where a range of vegetables, soft fruit, espaliered pears and apples as well as cutting flowers are grown for use in the castle kitchen. There are large ornamental borders with a 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 and a range of fruit trees, vines and cutting flowers.
A new garden has been created at the castle itself to give it a more refined setting. This garden consists of large herbaceous borders, including several Beech topiaries, with a central lawn and a surrounding Yew hedge. There is a terrace at the castle that is currently being rebuilt and will contain more topiaries, a water feature and more planting beds.
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 two 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, with some cleared areas seeded to create areas of open meadow within the woodland.
The parkland is dotted with mature specimen trees and some tree planting has recently taken place to diversify the age structure of these trees. The ongoing strategy is to diversify the sward in the parkland meadow using the introduction of Yellow rattle and the technique of strewing. This should become both beautiful and a valuable habitat for various wildlife.
There are also four cottage gardens on the estate that the Aldourie gardening team look after.
Any trainee at Aldourie would gain a wide variety of 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.
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: 4 full-time gardeners; 2 part-time; 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 will be provided for the trainee in a shared house.