Situated in Royal Deeside, Crathes Castle is not only one of the most beautiful and best preserved 16th century castles in Scotland, but it was lived in by a single family for over 350 years. The fourteen generations of Burnetts produced generals, admirals and judges, a bishop or two and even a Governor of New York. Crathes is still very much a home steeped in the love and care lavished on it by the generations.
The garden beside this romantic château-like Scottish tower house, with its little round towers and square overhanging turrets, was very much the brainchild of Sir James Burnett and his wife Lady Sybil. It was their brilliant imagination and plantsmanship from the 1920s which gradually evolved into the distinctive, compartmentalised, ornamental thematic displays throughout the whole walled garden that we see today. However, tradition has it that the oldest yews in the higher level of the garden date from 1702.
The walled garden had been cultivated as a kitchen garden, to serve the needs of the castle household, almost since the castle was built. The soil is exceptionally good – neutral to slightly acid loam.
Gertrude Jekyll visited the castle in or about 1895 and an illustration in one of her books shows an early view of the castle from the garden. It was after 1926 that Sir James and Lady Sybil began to develop their ideas.
The garden is divided into eight sections, each with its own particular theme and character. It is the clever colour combinations which strike you as you wander round the paths and borders. The central feature of the four lower gardens is a Portugese laurel (Prunus lusitanica) of considerable age. From this radiate the White Border, the June Border, the incredible Golden Garden, the Red Garden, hazy blue Double Herbaceous Borders and other delights. The four upper gardens are more formal and are dominated by the massive yew hedges. Here you discover the croquet lawn, pool, fountain and rose gardens.
Immaculately maintained by the National Trust for Scotland, this place is a rare delight on a grand scale.