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19 Aug 2021

Why we love Crathes Castle, Garden & Estate



ME – Crathes was given to the Burnett family in the 1300s due to their loyalty to King Robert the Bruce. They originally started in a crannog in what is called the Loch of Leys. They stayed in the crannog for 200 years before commencing building of the tower house in the 1500s. It took 30 years to complete and it took three different layers to complete in 1596.

I love this place because of the history that goes with Crathes and the surrounding area of Deeside. Crathes is a big estate. We cover a lot of different areas for our visitors. We have the castle, the Wild Wood walk and we have the beautiful, award-winning walled gardens A lot of people come just to see the gardens.

JH – I love this place because I think it really feeds creativity and it’s just a really beautiful place to be. It just has a good effect on people and I think that’s probably why I love it. So what do people get excited about in the garden? I think it’s the variety, colour, I think it’s the personality of the garden as well, something new, something changing all the time but also a sense of tradition as well. A lot of folk will ask you advice or how to propagate something but I think it’s important that folk, when they come to a big or any professional garden, they should be able to see things that they can’t instantly re-create at home and that’s what people come to look for as well. They definitely look for influence but I think they’re looking for that bit more.

Visitor – I love this place because it’s a great place to spend time. We’ve been coming as a family for many years. We really enjoy walking around the grounds - it’s just a very relaxing place to spend time.

Visitor – I love this place because it’s a great place to come with family and friends, and it’s a great place to just come and relax.

SH – I mean I love this place- it is by far the best job in the world. You come to work every day and you see something new every day, from mundane tasks like weeding and cutting grass through to the big projects like our new Evolution Garden or the yew renovation. -You get to do every aspect of gardening and it’s just like working in paradise really. The Evolution Garden was the brainchild of our head gardener James and it started a couple of years ago. It’s an exciting new project here at Crathes. It’s got three circles in the middle that depict the evolution of plants and it’s planted up with lots of prehistoric-type plants - cycads and palms. We took some very old and very heavy oak stumps out the estate this winter and hand-carried them in and put them in place, so it’s surrounded by a bit of a stumpery. It’s an exciting project. It seems to be very popular with the public and it was great to be involved in.

Visitor – I love this place for the gardens. You can have a nice picnic and go a walk and see all the nice colours in the sun.

JH – I shouldn’t really use a cliché but I guess it is quite a high maintenance garden, absolutely. But it’s also got quite an informal style because it’s like Arts and Crafts, so it has quite a loose feel. It’s actually a lot of work to keep it sharp and develop it and do new things. It’s about finding the right plants for the right places but also pushing the boundaries a bit. I think you always do that as a gardener but I think we’re doing it more now and getting away with a lot more, that’s for sure.

Visitor – I love this place because we come a lot with our boys, who are quite young, and I love the fact you’ve got lots of really old trees and lots of great footpaths for exploring.

Visitor – I love this place because you can interact with nature and as soon as you step inside the forest, you’re surrounded by it.

Visitor – I love this place because I like coming for picnics and I like going in the garden.

JH – There are so many different points of interest in different seasons. A lot of people are noticing the changes we’re doing in the structures as well, they’re enjoying that. Quite often it’ll be colour, there’s always different plant choices as well. We get a lot of repeat visitors here and I guess now more than ever after the pandemic as well I think it’s very good for people’s wellbeing. There’s no doubt about that.

There are so many things to love about Crathes – from the magnificent 16th-century castle to the wildlife-rich estate, sculpted yew trees and historic walled garden. This place is simply stunning all year round.

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