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22 Nov 2021

Winter in our gardens

Close-up of a branch of a gorse bush covered in a thick white frost.
See our gardens in a whole new way during winter | Image: L Campbell
Even in the coldest months of the year, there’s beauty and magic to be found in our gardens and grounds.

Crathes Castle, Garden & Estate

Ancient yew topiary shapes and hedging – some planted as early as 1702 – make this garden a must-see during the colder months for its living architecture. Pools and fountains provide structure and winter interest when all is still. Head to the glasshouse from January onwards to catch the earliest signs of spring on the way. The old-fashioned method of forcing bulbs and creating displays is very much alive here, filling the corridors with scent and colour.

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Two large topiary yews under a light dusting of snow, with Crathes Castle in the background
Crathes Castle in snow

House of Dun

The avenue of 30-metre-tall giant redwoods (Sequoiadendron giganteum), planted in the 1800s, is a magnificent sight. Espaliered apples and pears on the south terrace take on a life of their own on frosty days. If the weather leaves something to be desired, take a sheltered woodland walk around the Den of Dun – which boasts a beautiful carpet of snowdrops from January onwards, sited among winter-flowering mahonias and viburnums – before replenishing your energy with a well-earned hot lunch.

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Snowdrops cover the woodlands of House of Dun
Snowdrops cover the woodlands of House of Dun

Haddo House

Intricately designed geometric flower beds adorn the terrace garden, inspired by the Italian renaissance era. Dating from the 1740s, these are best viewed from the house above and will be planted out with winter pansies and spring bulbs until the frosts have passed, so book in for a guided house tour as part of your day. Beside the terrace, look out for Royal specimen trees – a giant redwood (Sequoiadendron giganteum) planted by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and a copper beech (Fagus sylvatica purpurea) planted by The Queen Mother.

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Haddo in the snow

Culzean Country Park

The 650-acre country park is sited in a sheltered spot, benefitting from the Gulf Stream so unusual plants can be seen even during the coldest months of the year. Towering Trachycarpus (palms native to Asia) and cordylines in the walled garden exude a tropical feel, an unusual experience in any Scottish garden in winter! Be sure to visit the Camellia House from January onwards, to see these glossy green shrubs in all their flowering glory – a stunning mixture of reds, yellows, pinks and whites. Elsewhere in the glasshouses, flowering begonias, pelargoniums and fascinating succulents are worth a look right through the winter.

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The Camellia House at Culzean | Image: Rob McDougall ©

Threave Garden & Estate

Holly (Ilex) is the archetypical winter plant, and this garden is home to over 100 cultivars – including species with black and amber berries, as well as red. A tree trail weaves through the garden at Threave, encompassing numerous British and Scottish champions. In winter, trees grown for their winter bark are illuminated in the low light. Look out for specimens of silver birch (Betula utilis jacquemontii) with its bright white trunk, Tibetan cherry (Prunus serrula) with its coppery-red bark and Persian ironwood (Parrotia persica) with its attractive scaling stems. Take some time to admire the Miscanthus and Calamagrostis grasses, as well as the seed heads of perennials, as they sparkle with frost on a cold and bright morning. End your winter wander with a warming mug of hot chocolate in the Terrace Café, and take in the view across the Galloway Hills.

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Close-up of a cluster of red berries on a holly branch.
Chestnut leaf holly, one of the many varieties of holly growing at Threave

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