A Trip To Pitmedden Gardens (Part 1)

Last week we had another trip out to enjoy the beautiful weather before summer finally disappears. 
We travelled just 14 miles North of Aberdeen to the stunning Pitmedden Gardens. 
The magnificent walled garden was originally laid out in 1675 by Sir Alexander Seton.
(I really am falling in love with walled gardens).
The granite wall has sheltered the garden for more than 300 years... imagine that!
Little is known about the early history of the garden, but from at least the 1840's it was a productive kitchen garden, famed for it's apples and pears.
The wall has provided the garden protection from the worst of the weather, wind and predators over the years.
The property was gifted to the National Trust in 1952. 
The Trust set about re-creating the gardens following designs dating from the 17 century.
Today, Pitmedden features over 5 miles of box hedging arranged in intricate patters to form six parterres. 
(A parterre is a formal garden constructed on a level surface, consisting of planting beds, typically in symmetrical patterns, separated and connected by gravel pathways)
The gardener was busy with the hedge cutters, whist we wondered around the grounds.
I can imagine that it's a never ending job.
These parterres are filled with 40,000 plants bursting with colour, which makes quite a spectacle.
Unfortunately, some of the box hedging is suffering from the dreaded box blight that is plaguing the
UK at the moment, but it is currently being treated, so hopefully it will recover.
This is the centre of the walled garden looking out to the rear.
I've put in a request for my lawn to look like this next year. 
(A wall garden and a pristine lawn... not much to ask for really
This is the reverse of the photo above, looking back at the house.
A good part of being able to visit during the week is that there are very few visitors, so I am able to capture the images without people wandering into the shot.

The wall is hard to see on this photo below because it is covered it is fully laden with apples and pears. If you look closely you might be able to see the step ladders of one of the gardeners.
They were busy pruning the fruit.
The gardener was telling us about the September festival here at Pitmedden Gardens, when all the apples and pears are sold off.
Apple Sunday 'Applea and Cornkisters' will be held on Sunday 25th September.
The garden was positively buzzing with the sound of busy bees.
There is plenty more to show you but I'm aware of that I've probably taken up too much of your time, so I'll carry on with Part 2 another day. 
As well as the beautiful garden there's an orchard, small gallery, a museum of farming life with a fantastic collection of machinery and photographs of time gone by, plus a woodland walks.
Phew... I think it's time we should head to the cafe for afternoon tea. 
It's hard to imagine that today a garden would be planted on such an extravagant scale.
I hope you'll join me next time to carry on with our visit in Part 2.

I am linking today to
Wordless Wednesday... create with joy
Our World Tuesday
Wordless (on Tuesday at image-in-ing)
Although I'm hardly wordless, so I hope I'll be forgiven.

Crathes Castle

Are you free to visit a castle today?
How about a magical turreted castle with stunning gardens, magnificent grounds and woodland, amid rolling hills and glorious countryside? 
We couldn't resist either, especially as we had been living in a cloud of fog/haar that had stayed around for far too long. 
It was time to head inland from the coast to hopefully find sight of a little blue sky and if possible some sunshine. And what do you know?... we were lucky... we found both. 
As we drove out of Aberdeen on the A93 to Crathes Castle, the mist began to clear and the sun broke through.
Crathes castle and grounds are presently owned and managed by the National Trust of Scotland and are open to the public.
Crathes has always been one of my favourite castles to visit in Aberdeenshire. 
It's within easy reach and there's lots to see and do in and around this magnificent 16th Century tower house, that you're sure to have a memorable experience if you get the opportunity to visit. 
The land was gifted to the Burnett family in 1323 by Robert the Bruce and you can still see their badge of office, the ivory Horn of Leys, hanging in the High Hall. You can also see the horn above the large window to the left of the tower in the above photo. 
The horn symbol was added to the family coat-of-arms and it can be seen throughout the castle. It's also carved onto the Laird's bed.
The coat of arms of the Burnetts of Leys contain a hunting horn and three thistles.
The actual Horn of Leys remains in the ownership of the Burnett family and is on display at the Castle. If you'd like to read more about the Burnett family then click here.

We chose to walk around the gardens whilst the sun shone before entering the castle. 
The famous gardens feature massive yew hedges that were planted as early as 1702. 
Every time I see these hedges I imagine them moving and dancing around like something in a Disney movie. Aren't they amazing?
The walled garden is really eight gardens ranging from the formal to the modern, so there's something for everyone to enjoy. 
It's a little early in the year to see the gardens at their best at the moment. Especially the colourful double herbaceous border in full bloom... which is quite exquisite. So I'll just have to nip back in June to capture them in all of their glory.
If you look into the photo to the left below, you will see two stick domes. These are supports for the plants. If I remember rightly they were made from willow and there are workshops to show you how to make them. I much prefer the natural look of the stakes than the plastic alternative. There are a few workshops throughout the year which some include the head gardener giving a tour of the gardens.
It looks like the weather is changing once again...
So let's take a look inside the castle shall we?
Watch your step when ascending the tower stairs because there's a 'trip' step...I'll not tell you which one as the helpful National Trust volunteer will do that when you visit. It was intended to disconcert attackers climbing the staircase. 
Amazingly, there are some rooms that retain the magnificent original painted ceilings. And if you feel a chill in the air in one particular room, then that could possibly be 'The Green Lady, Crathes' own ghost!
This view is from an upper window of the castle overlooking the crochet lawn, some of the formal gardens and greenhouses. As you can see unfortunately we've lost the sunshine. 
Further afield, the 240 hectare estate offers six separate trails to enjoy. 
If you click here you will be able to see the walk that my daughter and I enjoyed one frosty November morning. 
At the property there is a cafe, gift shop, adventure playground for the children, the North-East's only 'Go Ape' tree top adventure and the Arting Around studio.
So all the family can enjoy the outing. 

Just one point before I finish...
I'd like to state that I haven't received any remuneration for this post but when I did join the National Trust during the Easter break, my name was entered into a draw. I didn't pay much attention to the details at the time, but when the postie arrived at my door with a large parcel I was thrilled. My name had been drawn and I won a fabulous high spec pair of binoculars! 
Have a great weekend everyone

Enjoying the last few days of Summer....

How do you hold back time? Does anyone know? 
No I didn't think so.
It's something that we've all wanted to do at some stage or other and yesterday was one of those days for me...It was the last day of summer :(
So I've decided to sit and reflect on what has been a wonderful few months of incredible weather for us here in Scotland. 

We couldn't have wished for a better introduction back into UK life, than to be able to experience all that a good British summer can give. 
I remember as a child growing up, when we would wake at first light and rush to meet up with friends, eager to spend the whole day outdoors. 
We'd only appear back home reluctanly for a much needed snack or sustenance of some sort, or when the light began to fade or worst of all when my name was called to come in because it was time for bed. The response would always be "ahhh....just five more minutes pleeeeeeeeeeeeeese?"
It's amazing what a beautiful summer day can do to promote a healthy appetite, as well as a healthy glow! 
I can remember summer started in May back then (although my Mother would always insist that we wore our vests quoting "Never cast a cloud until May's out". Meaning you couldn't possibly take off your vest until June began...no matter what, even if you were about to self-combust!  
Summer would carry on right through uninterrupted until September and sometimes even beyond if we were lucky to experience an 'Indian summer' as it would be called. 

But maybe I'm looking back with rose coloured glasses...because the reports I've heard about the summers over recent years have been mainly disappointing and sometimes just a complete washout! 
I'm so glad that this year wasn't https://secure.quebles.com/content/hotmail/emoticons/1508618.gif
Here's a photo of our garden to prove that the sun did shine! 

(Nearly at the close of the day...the busy bee is still active...can you see him?)

But I can't say that about this year. Since we arrived back in the UK from Australia, we've enjoyed many unexpected glorious days. Enjoying sun filled warm temperatures and even been lucky enough to eat our meals outdoors too. 
This is exceptional and so unprecedented because the weather can be quite extraordinarily changeable and so unpredictable, as you will know if you live in here. 
That's why it can be our main topic of conversation. 

This weather is not what we expected but we have been so grateful and appreciated every moment. I've been getting familiar with my garden once again...meeting some new and old friends. Some of the plants I actually planted way back, but some are new additions that have been introduced in our absence. 

(I love to pick flowers from the garden and bring them indoors...
...it's like a snap shot of the month and what's in bloom) 

Sunshine, blue skies and shadows cast....
The garden has matured (haven't we all?) whilst I've been gallivanting about the globe, so there was a serious need for pruning. 
Like a scissor crazy over enthusiastic hair-dresser, I set to work. 
Edward Scissorhands has nothing on me! 

Who knew that the Lady's mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris) would take over the whole border plus some of the lawn! A charming little plant with frothy lime-green flowers but not something that you want in your lawn...well I don't anyway so snip snip snip! 

But do not fear...I noticed yesterday its re-sprouted. 
I think we might well have a battle on our hands here. 

One morning the heavy dew caught on a leaf which just stopped me in my tracks. 
But there's work to be done here...no rest for the wicked as my Grandmother would say...and I have to say I must be wicked! 
Really wicked!!!

(This photo reminded me of that old tv programme years ago...called 3,2,1 I think with the 'Dusty Bin')

We are also hacking cutting back huge hedges which is producing wonderful amount of kindling for our wood burner. 

I have to say that the Leylandii makes an excellent hedge creating a fantastic windbreak, privacy screen etc but beware if not looked after or cut regularly...then you're in for trouble. These quiet attractive hedges are on a mission...to reach Mars as soon as possible. Growing straight up at a rate of knots! 
Turn your back for a few months and whoosh...up they go!
We spent days precariously perched on ladders but thankfully my 6 foot son was on hand to help. (I'm vertically challenged shall we say, so this was a great help) 
I was delegated to be the safety anchor man...having confer bits land on me covering me like next years Christmas panto tree. 
Now we have a nice reasonably high hedge...just don't get the spirit level out or look too closely please.

And so as any gardener will tell you...you have to take time out to sit and appreciate the work you have just done and to make plans for future assignments. 
It's funny I always remember this bit! 
And so another good day comes to a close..."ahh beer o-clock" (as my hubby calls it) 

What is it about this family and fire?

Here's a shot of a shed that was demolished and burnt in the old ruined barn, which we now call 'the folly'
There will possibly be a future post about this but for now I'm just remembering back once again to a fantastic Bonfire night party that we held here years ago. 
The children were quite small but with the bonfire contained within these walls there was less worry. It was perfect and I remember everyone having a great time. 
Red sparks floating up into the star filled sky and later we had a few fireworks and cooked jacket potatoes in the ashes...plus popcorn! 
A huge hit :D
The ashes were still glowing the next morning.

We have lots of ideas on what we should do with 'the folly' but it's very early days yet. I think it might call for an architect view to help us decide. I can see nothing past an art studio/gallery! 
What do you think? 
Granny flat, separate student apartment, holiday home?
Dog kennel?
I don't think so I hear 'McMuffy' say...Kennel? What's one of those? 

We've had some wonderful walks McMuffy and I, through the country-side, woods and along the river. I had forgotten just how beautiful the British countryside can be. 
There's always something to catch your eye and I know that I'm going to enjoy seeing all the different seasons putting on their show. 

Where we are located there's a huge expanse of sky that is just perfect for cloud spotting and sunsets. 
I just love space! 

We also met some of the neighbours. 
Once again some old and some new. 
And some surprises too. 
I remember having a deer come right into the garden when we were last here, right up to the door almost. I don't know which one of us was more surprised to see the other. 
I'm hoping that we may be as lucky in the future. There's something special about having wildlife come to call. 
I also remember one night taking a last peek out of the window to have a huge, what I thought was a ginger tom cat stop and look back at me. 
I thought wow that big boy needs to be put on a diet, but then a few days later upon speaking to someone, it was explained that it was probably a 'wild cat' and that I'd been very lucky to spot him. He was lurking around our wood shed. 

(photo courtesy of Google Images...click for more pics)

Apologies for this photo I know it's a little blurred but you have to be quick to capture these things sometimes...maybe next time I'll have more warning or hopefully she'll be a regular visitor and there won't be any urgency in capturing the shot. 

Hey, now does anyone remember these beauties...or should that say 'booties'?
The 70's Moon Boots! 
We found them in the loft. They've probably been home for any number of wee beasties over the years by the look of them. 
Sadly they are no more...it took a lot to say goodbye to them, but then they probably wouldn't have lasted even having a foot put in them...even if you wanted to (yuk) They would have probably disintegrated within seconds. 

Here's something else that is no more...the little wendy, summer or cubby house.
My son took great delight in demolishing this. 
But I had mixed feelings...there had been lots of play times, happy memories and it had even been home for our two rabbits. I was contemplating it becoming our chook (hen) house but decided it wasn't in the best of health, so off it went to the folly for cremation.  
There might well be a future post about this too.

I hope you are noticing all the sunshine radiating from these photos.
Okay, I just wanted to point it out in case you'd missed it. 
And look at that blue sky!

This photo is taken from the side of the folly. 
I love those huge nails and wonder if they could talk what tales they'd tell.  

Remember I'd mentioned in my Simple Woman's Daybook entry the butterfly that refuses to leave the house...well look...
He just loves to hang out and spend time with me.

It's most bizarre to have a flutterby butterfly suddenly appear and fly around the room. 
He appears almost every evening now when I'm cooking...I think he feels so much at home he's invited to dinner too.  

Ahh...summer comes to a close but all the wonderful memory will linger. 
What's this I see....
The first signs of autumn?
It's arrival brings a new look to the Scottish countryside, with reds, golds and browns replacing the greens of summer. I don't really mind because the palette is pleasing and they'll be lots more beautiful things to appreciate. 
Yes, I suppose even the rain but let's keep our fingers crossed and hope for an 'Indian Summer' first. 

But just in case it doesn't come...I'm organising my cosy things...I haven't quite got the 'Onesie' yet...I wouldn't wish that sight on anyone, but who knows I always say 'never say never'. If that North wind doth blow too hard, I might just indulge! 
Don't worry there won't be any photographic evidence. I'm not that cruel. ;D

Is there any particular time or event you wish you could stop time for?
I'd love to know.
Hopefully you're enjoying a super sun-filled Sunday.
Thanks for stopping by https://secure.quebles.com/content/hotmail/emoticons/1511763.gif

Coughs and Sneezes....

My other half has always been generous, but I do wish he hadn't been over this last weekend. No I haven't been showered with gifts, chocolates, or flowers. Instead he's passed on his horrendous cold...and it wasn't Man Flu either. That I could have coped with. No, this one was full blown sneezes, snivels and sn** (lots of cold systems shall we say and leave it there).
What a household....and then there's Muffin still wondering 'what the....happened'! She's doing okay, but I think she keeps forgetting that she's had surgery and starts to dash only to come to an abrupt holt! Twisting round to see whats attacking her side. She just sits and looks at me with them huge eyes....until I give in a carry her. The trouble is she could get used to this - I'll have to be careful - do something twice for her and its a habit.
Poor thing, we haven't ventured out for her walk since last Friday, so cabin fever will be setting in soon. Maybe we'll be able to manage a little walk tomorrow.
So I wondered around the garden with my camera again today. The gardens certainly bursting into life.

 I love the light shining through this 'Bird of Paradise' plant.

 And guess what I was wrong about the Wisteria....its not white after all....
I really should get on with some housework...look at this cobweb.

I'm quite glad I didn't see the owner :-(

I feel like something sweet...hmm....I had thought to bake some cookies, so I'll have to see if I can muster up some enthusiasm