Gar­den­ing

Dun­treath Cas­tle, home to beau­ti­ful gar­dens, has been in the Ed­mon­stone fam­ily for nearly 700 years

The Weekend Australian - Life - - FOOD & WINE - HOLLY KERR FORSYTH

Holly Kerr Forsyth vis­its Dun­treath Cas­tle, Scot­land. Q&A with He­len Young.

Now that spring is ap­proach­ing in Scot­land, gar­dens will be stir­ring. One is the 10ha gar­den that rolls out around Dun­treath Cas­tle, in the shadow of the Camp­sie Fells in the lower High­lands. Dun­treath Cas­tle has been the seat of the Ed­mon­stone fam­ily since it was built 1345. The lands and Barony of Dun­treath were awarded to the fam­ily in 1435 by King Robert III of Scot­land and have re­mained with them in di­rect suc­ces­sion since.

“Some­thing of an achieve­ment given Scot­land’s tur­bu­lent his­tory,” says Julie Ed­mon­stone.

The gar­den and lakes date from Sir Archibald (widely known as Archie) and Julie’s mar­riage in 1969.

“No or­na­men­tal gar­dens of sig­nif­i­cance ever ex­isted and the two world wars saw the end of the large kitchen gar­den staff,” ex­plains Julie. To­day, lakes, ex­pan­sive lawns, a for­mal rose parterre, wa­ter­fall gar­dens and wood­land walks are look­ing mar­vel­lous.

Want­ing a gar­den “that sat com­fort­ably in the Scot­tish land­scape rather than the English style of en­closed gar­den rooms”, Julie edited the dark conifer woods to af­ford views of the beau­ti­ful hills and down the val­ley to Loch Lomond. The prop­erty’s black­face sheep, grown for their meat and be­cause they are hardy in the tough cli­mate, graze in the near dis­tance. “My favourite part of the gar­den is the wa­ter­fall gar­den we carved out of the woods ei­ther side of the front drive,” Julie says. De­signed in the Ed­war­dian era, this area had never been planted out. “By the 1970s all the pools had silted up so we re­stored them and land­scaped with large boul­ders from the sur­round­ing hills.” With a grow­ing sea­son of just three months, from May to July, fo­liage plants and au­tumn colour play a key role in this gar­den. The stone walls of the cas­tle, and its for­ti­fied Nor­man keep, sup­port Vir­ginia creeper ( Partheno­cis­sus quin­que­fo­lia), with its crim­son au­tumn fo­liage. Among Julie’s muchloved trees is the Ja­panese kat­sura ( Cer­cidi­phyl­lum ja-

pon­icum), which also colours bril­liantly in au­tumn. “Snow on conifers is beau­ti­ful in win­ter, as is the frozen lake, but mostly we just have rain,” she says.

Semi­cir­cu­lar stone steps, guarded by cones of the low-grow­ing Al­berta spruce ( Picea glauca var. al­ber

tiana), lead from the lawn to a ter­race sup­ported by a wall, home to small peren­ni­als that have helped them­selves to any damp spa­ces be­tween stones. At the top of the stairs a long sweep of the cat­mint,

Nepeta ‘Six Hills Gi­ant’, which is bet­ter suited than laven­der to the damp con­di­tions, leads to the cas­tle and the chapel with its au­tumn-colour­ing vines.

Al­though roses can strug­gle in the se­vere cli­mate and high rain­fall, the ter­race is planted in a parterre cre­ated with squares of tightly clipped box that en­case roses in pinks and creams. Favourites in­clude ‘ Wed­ding Day’, ‘Peace’, ‘Al­ber­tine’ and ‘Con­stance Spry’.

The scented ram­bler ‘Paul’s Hi­malayan Musk’ romps up many of the trees at Dun­treath. “This year I have planted them up an av­enue of cherry trees and I know the ef­fect of th­ese gi­ant para­sols of scented pink blooms will be spec­tac­u­lar,” Julie says. Clema­tis ar

mandii is a favourite due to its har­di­ness.

They wanted a gar­den ‘that sat com­fort­ably in the Scot­tish land­scape rather than the English style of en­closed gar­den rooms’

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