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.

A day trip to Fyvie Castle

It's been quite some time since we had a trip out, so I'm hoping you are free and up for it!
How about a trip to another Castle?
A 800 year old castle in fact... Fyvie Castle.
Shall we go in?
(The castle lies off the A947 just 8 miles SE of Turriff and 25 miles north west of Aberdeen).
It's a stunning historical treasure that has been beautifully looked after and now is a Scottish National Trust property. 
It really is an amazing place.
So much so in fact, that it has just achieved a five star rating from VisitScotland. 
This year the castle is celebrating it's 30th year of a visitors attraction, so it's a great time to visit.
As you can see the weather was spectacular (at last).
There wasn't a cloud in the sky and there was actual warmth in the sunlight.
How stunning is that? 
Tradition claims that the castle’s five successive families – Preston, Meldrum, Seton, Gordon and Forbes-Leith – each added a tower to this magnificent Scottish Baronial fortress.
I love the saltire (Scottish flag) flying against the glorious clear blue sky.
Shall we go inside...?
Unfortunately, as is the norm for a National Trust property, I was unable to take photo's inside, but let me tell you there is so much to see, that if you ever have the chance to visit I highly recommend that you do. 
You can also follow on their Instagram account #fyviecastle 
They post lots of interesting photo's and facts for your delight. 
Also if you want to know more about the castle, history and it's contents then click here
I couldn't possibly do it justice from my little knowledge.
As is our wont on such occasions, we 'had' to sample their afternoon tea... accompanied with millionaire shortbread. 
All enjoyed alfresco of course!
The 18th-century walled garden has recently been redeveloped as a garden of Scottish fruits and vegetables. This veggie garden is something I aspire to for my own plot... well I can wish!
We came across this incredible tree that must be so old.
Imagine what changes it has seen over the centuries. 
To finish our visit we wandered around Fyvie Loch, which was created by the 18th- century owners. Previously there had been marshland protecting the castle.
. This picturesque landscape feature now covers a large part of the estate’s 49 hectares and supports large numbers of wildfowl.
These cuties came waddling up to us obviously thinking we might have a few crumbs for them. 
I have lots more photo's, but I feel that this is probably enough for today. 
Once again here's a link if you'd like to know more about Fyvie Castle.

I'm linking up with the following...

Have a great day and thanks for visiting my place.

Crathes Castle...Blue Monday

When the dawn breaks to a beautiful crisp autumnal day, you can do nothing but head outdoors to appreciate it. And that's exactly what my daughter and I did.
Wrapped in our winter woolies, hats, gloves and boots plus of course our camera we headed along the River Dee towards Banchory. 
Our destination is my favourite local castle. 
Crathes Castle has fairytale turrets, gargoyles and the ancient Horn of Leys given in 1313 by Robert the Bruce are just a few of the features of this historic castle. 
The gardens of Crathes and estate are ideal for walks, picnics, or just to relax and enjoy. There are six separate trails to explore. 
A delight at any time of year, the famous gardens feature great yew hedges which never cease to amaze me. There are also colourful herbaceous borders. 
So are you ready for a walk? 

The Crathes Gate House appears in the background.

This photo is for everyone who visited yesterday for Silent Sunday and wanted to take a further peek through that gate...don't worry I'm going to revisit in the spring, when there will be so much more to see. I hope you don't mind me just showing a fraction of it today. 
Here's another gateway...which has 'Rebuilt in 1810' engraved over the top. 
You can also see the castle in the background. 
It was a perfect day to appreciate the autumn colours.
Still waters...
The metal structure on the right-hand side in the photo below is a fish ladder. This allows salmon to continue swimming upstream to their spawning grounds where they themselves were born. Salmon are capable of swimming against extremely strong currents and leaping up large waterfalls. Autumn is when the salmon are most prolific but unfortunately we didn't see any this time.

And so onto the castle...
Okay, so I've teased you enough... here is the majestic Crathes Castle.
I adore the ancient topiary hedges of Irish yew dating from 1702 which separate the garden's eight themed areas. 
They remind me of Walt Disney's 'Alice in Wonderland' don't you think? 
I wouldn't be surprised to see them dance around. 

Because we were wanting to stay outside, we didn't go into the castle but don't worry I will take you in soon. 
But we did stop for a much needed cuppa and a scone of course
(as one does after walking the forest trails
plus a visit into the art and craft wee shops and gallery.

Here's my daughter perusing all of the fabulous artwork...
(Don't worry the boys were having a great time too...in the pub watching their football team win).  
Just look at that blue sky!
 Wow, it was such a fantastic day and who would think that we're in the middle of November.

Which is why I'll wish you all a Happy Blue Monday.
Don't forget to pop across to see more of the Blue Monday posts at Smiling Sally's blog.