The garden at Hatton Castle, near Turriff, received an award recently from Scotland’s Gardens to mark 50 years of opening for the charity. This year, garden designer Jayne James Duff has decided to ring the changes by running an afternoon workshop for garden owners.
“As we see those welcome shoots shrugging off winter, there might be the odd gap in the border where the slugs have won or something has quite unaccountably succumbed, do we march off to the local garden centre to find some bonny offering to fill the gap?” said Jayne.
“That might work, but why not seize the opportunity to have a good look at the planting and consider if this is the moment for a bit of a sort out – maybe even a makeover.”
Over the afternoon of Saturday, March 7, Jayne plans to take the group through the replanting of a border, from looking at the contents – to decide what to keep and what to chuck out – lifting and dividing the survivors, preparing for replanting, planning the planting to finally getting on with it. Weather permitting, the group will spend some time in the garden with Jayne, who will show examples illustrating the principles introduced during the earlier part of the afternoon.
“Although this is a short session, we should be able to touch briefly on maintenance, soil types, pets and pests and weeds as well as the more creative considerations such as aspect, season, colour, texture and shape and mixed versus herbaceous planting. Afternoon tea might be in the garden as we work, so please come in your gardening clothes,” said Jayne.
Hatton Castle has a two-acre walled garden which dates back to 1745. Present owner David Duff said: “The Duff family have been at Hatton since 1709 and for 300 years have enjoyed the fruits of the same garden. You cannot enter that space without a great sense of history, of Jacobites and Georgians, Victorians and Edwardians and, within reach of us today, those families who endured the two great wars of the last century. The skills of generations of gardeners have been passed down from the wise to their apprentices, making the garden a testament to horticultural history.
“There is no doubt that I have been the most recent beneficiary of that tradition. For 28 of his 45 years at Hatton, head gardener Robbie Bacon has patiently advised and taught me, all the time tending the whole garden beautifully. I have made some awful mistakes, by not heeding his advice, but there is no doubt that both they and the successes count in the learning process.
“We have done almost nothing to alter the plan of the garden, but we have added pleached hornbeam and Irish yew, clipped Portuguese laurels and yards of box hedging. By far our most radical decision was to cloud prune a 30ft-high dome of yew, which we did with a power saw, Robbie, the whole family and a truly magnificent bonfire.
The impact of these additions and changes is most noticeable in winter with the structure of the hedges and clipped laurels really standing out and lending structure to the dormant garden.
In spring and summer, it’s all change, with the air ringing with birdsong, the same trees and hedges becoming home to new generations of garden birds. Beyond the hornbeam hedges and the kitchen garden, a meadow leads down to the burn and the cheerful sound of running water – sometimes a gentle splash over the waterfalls, occasionally quite a little torrent.
“The borders which flank the lawns are mostly mixed, often with roses and perennials, colour and texture always having played an important role in the planning of any new layout. I try to aim for an interesting matrix of textural green plants with hopefully a succession of harmonising colour gently superimposed. Over-fussy splashes of colour are not easy on the eye if you want a garden to be, as I do, a place of beauty and tranquillity.”
Proceeds from the event will be donated to Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Scotland’s Gardens beneficiary charities. Hatton Castle Garden welcomes visitors at other times by arrangement, with an admission fee of £5 and children free.
WHAT: Garden Workshop
Rethink Your Garden Borders
given by Jayne James Duff
WHERE: Hatton Castle, Turriff
WHEN: Saturday, March 7,
from 2pm. Advance booking
on 01888 562279