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16 Jun 2020

Virtual garden tour: Fyvie Castle walled garden

Fyvie Castle walled garden virtual tour


[Gordon Thomson]
Hello everyone. Welcome to Fyvie Castle Gardens. My name is Gordon Thomson. I’m the head gardener here – been head gardener for coming on 13 years.

Welcome to the Walled Garden of Scottish Fruit.

The garden was designed by Robert Grant back in the mid ‘90s – mid-to-late ‘90s. Robert was our regional garden advisor at the time.

Up until that time, the Trust bought Fyvie Castle in the mid 1980s. Between the mid 1980s and mid ‘90s, various parts of the garden were developed – the American Garden and Rhymer’s Haugh Woodland Garden – but this garden was all laid out to grass, which is a crying shame, over 2 acres.

So Fyvie Castle had a long tradition of growing fruit in the past, so Robert decided to create a team around fruit – specifically Scottish fruit. At the time, not many people were growing these historic Scottish varieties, so a great thing for us to do, for the Trust to do, safeguarding these varieties. So, over 40 varieties of apple, as well as pear, plum, lots of soft fruits, raspberries, blackcurrants. Many of the blackcurrants donated by the James Hutton Institute down in Dundee, which we’re very grateful for. As well as hybrid berries, blackberries and so on.

A huge amount of seasonal vegetables as well, and lots and lots of colour, dahlias, cosmos, lots of other annuals as well.

Not quite such a fine day today – bit cloudy, but never mind.

I’m going to hand you over to our full-time gardener, Stuart Stockley in a minute, who’s going to take you around the garden.

I’d just like to say a huge thank you to our volunteers. Sadly, we don’t have our volunteers at the moment for obvious reasons. They’re a huge support to us, as well as every other garden in the Trust, and we really appreciate them. We’ll hopefully have them back as soon as we can.

Just like to thank all our members and visitors as well. Obviously, you’re dying to get back to the gardens and the grounds and we fully appreciate that. And we thank you for your patience.

So I’m going to hand you over to Stuart now, who’s going to take you on a virtual tour of our gardens.

[Stuart Stockley]
OK, so hi everyone. I’m Stuart Stockley, the gardener here at Fyvie Castle. You’ve just had an introduction from Gordon Thomson, my head gardener.

I’m going to take you round the garden now just to show you some of the stuff that we’ve been doing.
You can find more videos about the garden and things we’ve been doing on the Fyvie Castle Facebook page, or you call follow gardener.stu on Instagram for more gardening content.

Right, so let’s go see the garden then, shall we?

OK, so I’ll start the little tour from the top of the garden. This is our nursery area – our work area. I mean, the public can come up here if they like to have a look, but it’s more just a sort of working area.

So, yeah, this is one of our greenhouses here, and our cold frames that I’ve put in in the winter. They’re not finished yet – they need tops as you can see – but at the moment I’m just using a bit of corrugated plastic for the cold frames this year, until I can get round to doing the tops for them.

So, let’s go round here. Going to the main part of the garden.

So the first bed we come to here is our rhubarb bed, which as you can see does very well. This rhubarb must be, well it’s damn near the height of me, so it’s certainly over 5 feet tall with the flower heads on it. So, yeah, plenty of rhubarb.

These are our strawberry cages here and our other greenhouse, and more rhubarb.

Now some of you may have seen some of my other videos I’ve done this year. In one of the videos I was doing was about our carrot and onion beds, so this is it here with the onions and carrots now in place.
At the moment I’ve got bits of steel on the bed and bits of timber just to stop the mat blowing about since I put the drills in, the wind can get underneath it now.

You’ll also see coming up through the middle of the carrots here are some potatoes. Well this is where it was our potato bed last year and, try as we will, we can’t get every single potato out of the bed. So, every now and then, through the drills, we’re getting these rogue tatties come up, which is a real pest. But we just paint a bit of weed killer, just got a paint brush and just dab the potatoes with some weed killer, and that seems to work a treat with them. So, that’s our carrot and onion bed there.

This is an ornamental apple bed which we’re going to take out next year and do something a little bit more special in here we think. At the moment, we’ve got some Ballerina apples and we’ve got a little espalier in the middle there, and some table-top apple trees.

This is our hybrid currant bed – our hybrid berries – so that’s what’s in here.

This bed, you’ll have to excuse the weeds first of all, I should have said that at the beginning. We have got many, many a weeds in the garden this year – far more than we would normally – and that’s purely because our seasonal gardener is furloughed, and our volunteers just can’t come in at the moment. So, as Gordon was saying at the beginning, it’s just the two of us, so there’s more weeds than we would like to see.

But basically, what’s going to be going in this bed, where the sticks are, we’ve got Bishop dahlias planted there, so they’ll come up for a splash of colour. And over the A-frame wigwams, we’re going to plant runner beans, so that will just be like a tunnel of runner beans. The beans should hang in the centre, and then the foliage will be on the outside of the frame, so you can just sort of go through the tunnel and just harvest the runner beans nice and easily that way. So that’s what’s going on there.

We’ll go back down here. Just this morning, I’ve started laying out a string line for me to put in the Brassicas. So this will be the Brassica bed here with this black frame, and the netting is just here which goes over the top of it to keep out the Cabbage White butterflies. So, by the end of the day, this will be planted up with Brassicas.

Coming over here, this is our herb parterre. There’s really not much in the way of colour at the moment. We’ll do another video in about a month’s time. But because it’s a kitchen garden, so much of what we put in is annual, and it’s just not at its peak yet. But, anyway, the herb parterre is here. We’ve got a statue underneath this cloth here – Gaea, the goddess of woods. So she’s under there at the moment, so we need to take that off as well and let her out for the summer.

Take you over to the herbaceous border now, and I’ll show you some of the stuff. This just got planted up last year. We emptied the whole border and planted up probably about two-thirds of it. You can see there’s a gap at the end of the border there that’s still to be planted up. Unfortunately, we’re not going to be able to put herbaceous stuff in there this year. There’s just not the money with Covid. Yeah, our budgets have been drastically reduced as you can imagine. So we’ll just put in some gourds or something like that there, and maybe some more wigwams or something with runner beans.

But considering this was just planted up last year, it’s looking pretty good. I mean, the Lupin look fantastic, as does the Centaurea at the back there. Again, it’s done really well.

And the Delphinium. Delphinium normally take a couple of years to establish, but there’s certainly lots of flowers to come up here.

So, like I say, in a couple of weeks, I think it will look spectacular.

But the herbaceous border runs the full length of the garden, so it’s a pretty big border, and it certainly will be once we get both ends completed and planted up. But there’s a gap at this end as well that, again, we’ll plant up with some, well, whatever, salad or some gourds or, you know, who knows. We’ll see what we’ve got left when we’ve planted up all the beds.

So it’s mainly Scottish fruits that we have in here, and Scottish vegetables. We hold the largest collection of Scottish fruits and vegetables. So it’s all Scottish apples, pears, currants – you’ve got redcurrants, pinkcurrants, whitecurrants, blackcurrants – raspberries, hybrid berries, you know, got all the Scottish soft fruits, and apples and pears.

So this bed here is a potato bed, so we’re just growing our potatoes under straw this year. I have done another video that you’ll find on the Fyvie Facebook page. It talks more about the potato bed if you want to find out more about that.

This is another ornamental apple bed where we’re putting dahlias on the sticks in the middle so there’s a bit of splash of colour. They’re in the ground, but as you can see, they’re not up yet.

And on this trellis we’ve made here with bamboo canes, we’re doing a Belgian fence style of growing with the apples. So it’ll take on this sort of diamond formation here. So again, you know, that’ll look spectacular in about three years’ time, it should be up to the top of the frame. So that’ll look quite something.

And just beyond that is our raspberry bed. Again, everything is very green at the moment. It’s just a bit early in the season for us. Plenty of flowers, flower buds on it, but no raspberries just yet.

This just got planted up this year as well. This is our gooseberry bed, and we’re going to do cordons. So they’re just going to be straight up cordons on these black sticks here. And in a year or two, we’ll get some galvanised steel frames for them – much like you can see on all the other beds – just like these frames here. And we’ll have, yeah, gooseberry cordons growing up them.

This bed here, at the moment we’ve just got some shallots in, but we’ll put some salad in there as well.
On the back lawn here it’s just like our orchard lawn. It’s all Scottish apple trees just on the back lawn there.

And as we come round to the last veg bed, this is going to be the pea bed. So I’m still to put netting on a few of these frames here, but I’ve got the first net on the first frame, so that’s our first succession of peas that have been sown in now. So I just need to get the frames on the rest and get some more peas sown.
So there’s still lots for us to do in the gardens here. We need to get all the runner beans in, and we need to get all the Brassicas in, and I’ve still got peas to sow, and we’ve got some annual bedding to sow as well for a bit of colour round the edge of the veg beds.

So, yeah, that’s it really guys. That’s the kitchen garden at Fyvie Castle.

Join Fyvie Castle gardeners Stuart Stockley and Gordon Thomson, as they take you on a fascinating tour around the Walled Garden of Scottish Fruits, home to the largest collection of Scottish fruits and vegetables.

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