See all stories
29 Jul 2022

Work to begin on Crathes Rose Garden

Written by Murray Hope
A close-up view of a rose plant, which has bright pink roses in bloom.
The Madame Isaac Pereire rose at Crathes | Image by Susan Bennett
Drawing inspiration from Crathes’ ancient roots, the new design and year-round planting will reinvigorate the Rose Garden. Reconstruction, ground preparation and laying-out will soon commence for approximately 10 weeks, ready for a first bloom next year.

The Walled Garden at Crathes Castle likely dates to soon after the 16th-century inception of the castle, when protected kitchen gardens were essential to a castle household.

The layout of the eight distinctive and immersive thematic displays that form the now-ornamental walled garden evolved through the Victorian era and into the 20th century. The present Rose Garden layout emerged around 1976.

Our gardens team and designers, including architect David Chouman, were set the challenge to re-imagine and realise the potential of the Rose Garden, with a design more befitting the stunning and historically significant walled garden envelope.

A view of the walled garden at Crathes Castle, looking towards the castle diagonally across a square flower bed. Shaped yew hedges surround a square pool at the centre of the bed, with colourful flower beds around the border. Gravel paths run along the outside.
A view of the walled garden at Crathes Castle | Image by Dougie Cunningham

Contemporary design and Neolithic inspiration

The specially commissioned ‘Petresphere’ sculpture will lie at the heart of the design, radiating eight new beds that replicate the petals of a stylised Jacobite Rose.

The Petresphere, created by Fyfe Glenrock in nearby Inverurie, is a scaled interpretation of the Towie ball: a mysterious and intricately carved, palm-sized Neolithic ball found at Glaschul Hill, Towie, and currently in the care of The National Museum of Scotland. Decorated with delicate swirls in black, fine-grained stone, it is the finest example of 430 similar objects mostly unearthed across Aberdeenshire.

National Museums Scotland: The Towie ball

Mesolithic pits recently discovered at Crathes offer evidence that people were living here from at least c.9000 BC and the foundations of a Neolithic Timber Hall show settled farmers were working the land from about 4000 BC.

The new sculpture symbolises the significant importance of Crathes stretching back millennia, from which the beauty of what we see today now flourishes.

A new array of rose plants, specially selected to create greater diversity and year-round interest, will be framed by further points of interest such as seating and bespoke ironwork arbours.

The new Rose Garden will both engage the senses and offer tranquil respite for garden visitors, while the dynamic layout will add to the aerial views from the castle – all key considerations in the design of such historic walled gardens.

Activity and disruption

Designing, preparing, laying-out, planting and nurturing any new garden is a major undertaking for the gardens team of staff and volunteers. They will also be contending with bringing large sculptural elements into the garden whilst it remains open to the public.

We very much appreciate the continuing support of our visitors and members, particularly over the next 10 weeks of construction, and look forward to seeing everyone’s reaction to this remarkable major development in 2023.

Our charity would like to extend our continuing thanks to the late Professor Ian Young and his wife Sylvia, who enjoyed a long association with and deep love of Aberdeenshire, for supporting this place.

Ian had huge passion for both Aberdeenshire and gardens: he was born and brought up in the city and studied at the University of Aberdeen and was also honoured by the university for his pioneering work on MRI. He wanted to respect heritage while giving gardens and gardeners an opportunity to develop and be creative. He also supported numerous other projects, including the recently opened innovative new Great Parterre at Pitmedden Garden.

Read more: Celebrating Pitmedden’s stunning new parterre

Explore Crathes Castle

Visit now