Drummond Castle Gardens, Muthill, Crieff, Perthshire, PH5
A couple of miles along the Stirling road from Crieff
you will find the imposing entrance to Drummond Castle Gardens. You
then travel along the narrow driveway for what seems another two miles.
This is the longest drive I've ever seen and you almost give up hope
of ever finding a castle or gardens at all. Then the stone walls loom
up on you. The car park is in a wood and the grounds of this estate
are on a truly Scottish scale. The walk across to the castle gateway
does not prepare you for the garden that is to come. Only when you have
paid your dues in the little turret do you walk up the the entrance
and then come onto the top level terrace and then see this...
View from the Esplanade
We went there on a hot, dry day, a rare thing indeed
in this part of the world! The garden was at its most perfect. Little
really has changed since that day in 1842 when Queen Victoria visited
and you feel you are a timeless character wondering through a theatrical
landscape. This is as good as it gets.
View towards the Castle
In or around 1490 John, First Lord Drummond, Steward
of Strathearn and Justice General of Scotland was granted permission
by King James the Fourth to build a castle. In 1605 the fourth Lord
Drummond was created the First Earl of Perth after helping to secure
a peace treaty with Spain. The estate remained in the family of the
Earls of Perth for several generations and when Clementina Drummond
succeeded her father Lord Perth in 1800 and married in 1807 the family
name became Willoughby de Erseby.
View over parterre
Statues surrounded by box hedging
According to records a significant garden must have
been in existence by 1605. In 1654 the castle was attacked and partially
demolished by Oliver Cromwell as the Earl of Perth were ardent Royalists.
The Fourth Earl employed John Reid in 1675 as his gardener. He became
well known for writing "The Scots Gardener" in 1683. during
the Eighteenth Century the garden schemes were interrupted many times
by wars, notably the Seven Years War" and political issues of the
day. In 1785 by the time the family regained the estate from the Crown
Commissioners the Landscape School Style had taken over in major gardens.
Spirals on top of box balls
In the Early Nineteenth Century by the time Clementina
Drummond and her husband took over the estate there was a revival in
the interest of formal gardens and it was they who laid out the terracing
and parterre work which is one of the most significant of the early
Victorian period in Scotland. The main gardener who worked with them
was Lewis Kennedy, who had once worked for the Empress Josephine at
Malmaison. The architect and landscape designer Sir Charles Barry made
many watercolours of the gardens and castle and he probably suggested
some of the more architectural parts of the garden.
Low parterre looking towards large hedging
The gardens naturally fell into disrepair during the
First and Second World Wars and much of the planting we see today is
post Second World war, although many of the massive yews which lie at
the outer extremities of the terraces are over 150 years old. The design
of the terraces is fascinating. The able bodied can walk down a series
of steps to lower terraces but if you take the path to the right you
arrive at the lower regions. Turn left and there is a driveway big enough
for a carriage which sweeps down to a bridge at the lowest level and
no doubt eminent Victorians were taken by carriage to take tea in the
garden. One historical thing to note however is the John Mylne Sundial
which is located at the exact centre of the garden and which was erected
by the Second Earl of Perth in 1630, The different faces of the sundial
show the times in many different capitals of the world.
If you only visit one topiary garden in Scotland this
All photographs by Anthony Blagg.
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