Scottish castle grows 2021 Garden of the Year after winning record number of votes

Love for a walled garden of plenty in the north of Scotland has bloomed.

The Gordon Castle Walled Garden near Fochabers in Moray has picked up the Historic Houses 2021 Garden of the Year award following a public vote.

It is the first time a garden north of the border has won the honour outright in the competition’s history.

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More than 3,000 votes were cast for the garden, a record for the contest.

The Gordon Castle Walled Garden in Moray has been named 2021 Garden of the Year following a public vote for the competition run by Historic Houses. PIC: Contributed.

Owners Angus and Zara Gordon Lennox described the garden as a “magical place” with the transformation of the land, from a near-abandoned grass field to an abundant producer of fruit, herbs, vegetables and cut flowers, starting seven years ago.

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In a statement, the couple said “We are absolutely delighted to have won the Historic Houses Garden of the Year award and would like to say a huge thank you to all our visitors, followers and friends of the Walled Garden for their votes. For us, and our small team of gardeners and volunteers, it is the stuff that dreams are made of.

"None of this would have been possible without the extraordinary hard work of our entire team and the support of the local community.

"This award will deliver an enormous boost to the Walled Garden, the local economy and hopefully to Scottish gardens as a whole, recognising the significant benefits gardening has on well-being, health, and happiness.

"We hope visitors will be encouraged to come and visit the garden, to discover this beautiful area of Moray and Speyside and, inspired by what they find, leave with a smile on their faces.”

Gordon Castle was one of the largest houses in Scotland until the mid-20th century, when it was sold by Frederick Gordon Lennox, 9th Duke of Richmond, 4th Duke of Gordon, to pay for death duties, with the pile then falling into disrepair.

After the Second World War it was bought by Lieutenant General Sir George Gordon Lennox, grandson of the 7th Duke of Richmond, who demolished part of the castle and turned the remaining sections into a grand family home.

The eight-acre garden survived the reduction in the castle, with designer Arne Maynard first looking to revive the derelict site in 2013, with a view to designing a modern and productive garden “fit for the next hundred years”.

The renovation was described as “epic”, with an estimated one million bricks in the 15ft foot surrounding walls.

Within the walls, four cut-flower beds arranged by colour are among the finds, with at least 400 more fruit trees planted alongside 250 mature specimens. In the spring, 70,000 bulbs come into flower.

More than 200 varieties of fruit and vegetable are grown on site from asparagus to beetroot, aubergines to apricots, and peaches and melons, which are grown in the restored glasshouse.

As a result of this rich bounty, the garden’s cafe is completely self sufficient from June to October.

Meanwhile, Gordon Castle’s range of gin is flavoured by the garden’s herbs and botanicals, with cider and ale also brewed using homegrown harvests. Essential oils distilled on site are infused in hand creams, soaps and shampoos.

Ben Howell, director general of Historic Houses UK, said: “We hope the award will mean many more garden visitors will seek out the horticultural wonders of Gordon Castle Walled Gardens.”

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