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What we do

The Gardens Team at the NTS is not just responsible for maintaining the gardens to a high horticultural standard providing fabulous displays for the public to enjoy; they are also responsible for:

Conservation of historic landscapes

The Gardens Team plays a key role in conserving Scotland's historic gardens and designed landscapes and since 1945 have been responsible for rescuing various gardens from destruction or gentle decline. Examples of properties that have been safeguarded from further decline include Crarae and Newhailes.

Conservation planning - including maintenance, restoration and adaptation - is carried out as part of a clear long-term plan for the property to avoid undesirable or incremental change. It is based on as full an understanding as possible of the property's historical development and cultural significance, history and character. The Gardens Team must work closely with other disciplines within the NTS to achieve such long-term aims.

On-going development of the gardens

Gardens are dynamic works of art, each with their own special character, which are determined not only by land-form and the physical environment but also by more transient factors such as building style, changing taste in garden design and plants. Gardens are contrived ecosystems representing interdependent communities that need to be managed in a sensitive manner to ensure their survival. Thus as well as conserving certain historic features in a garden it may also be appropriate to adapt and develop other areas.

Conservation of plant collections

The Trust is renowned for its outstanding plant collections that feature in excess of 100,000 plants of over 13,500 different types. Second only to the National Trust in England, the NTS cultivates more plants than the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh and amongst its number include 18 National Collections as determined by Plant Heritage (NCCPG).

Protection of the environment

The Trust's gardeners are very environmentally aware and try to minimize the impact of their operations on the environment as required by the Trust's Environmental Policy. In this respect the Trust seeks to limit its use of pesticides used in gardens and its wider estate and is actively investigating ways of replacing peat-based composts and growing media. Many of the gardens have wilderness areas to encourage wildlife and visitors are encouraged to follow the example set by the NTS.

Training and development of horticultural skills

For more than 50 years the Trust has operated a School of Practical Gardening at Threave Garden, Dumfries & Galloway where many of the country's leading horticulturists have learned the skills and knowledge necessary to look after amenity and heritage gardens. In recent years the Trust has expanded its gardener training initiative and now operates a variety of different apprenticeships and bursary studentships at a wide variety of gardens including Inverewe Garden, Kellie Castle, Crathes Castle, Leith Hall. For more information see Training & Careers.

Conservation in Action
Damon Powell, Head Gardener, Castle Fraser taking a break from felling a dangerous tree Erecting polythene tunnel at Canna House Nick Bulloss & Colin Totty planning major change at Brodick woodland garden following removal of storm damage and diseased Rhododendrons Weeding the herbaceous border at Culzean Hedge Cutting the yew topiaries at Crathes Castle
Creating the Mary Luke Garden at Culross Palace Maintaining the traditional skills of peach cultivation at Culzean Castle Peter Sim pruning the Portuguese laurel at Crathes Castle Chris Wardle scarifying the croquet lawn at Crathes Castle Student gardeners at Threave dividing herbaceous plants
Harvesting apples and pears at Pitmedden Garden Archaeological investigation at Drum Castle Archaeological investigation at Fyvie Castle Student gardeners sowing seeds Watering the bedding plants at Pitmedden Garden
Restoration of the Mackenzie & Moncur glasshouse at Geilston Garden Restoration of part of the 1840s Terrace Garden at Haddo House
Turf listing at Haddo House
Hoeing amongst the parterres at Pitmedden Garden Autumn leaf collection at Fyvie Castle
Drystane dyking at Craigievar Castle South Drive Planting autumn fruiting raspberries at Castle Fraser Brodie daffodil collection drying sheds Learning opportunities for staff in Rhododendron identification Clearing storm damage