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Aberdeen Garden Tour

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What a fantastic trip, I bet everyone came back bursting with ideas!

Everyone always comes back fired up with enthusiasm and with plenty of plants to be incorporated in their gardens but I think this trip has perhaps produced many more 'must-haves' than usual.

We already have a day trip partially organised for 22 August. Inspired by a desire by many to see the newly Japanese garden at Cowden, we plan to visit The Garden of the Southern Hemisphere at Torryburn (possibly a last chance to see it as the house goes on the market later in the year), David Buchanan-Cook's lovely walled garden, Cowden and finally Gill and Peter Hart's inspiring garden at Kirklands. So, it will really be a day of contrasts.

Next year? Who knows. Inspiration yet to strike! Certainly not the gardens of France or Italy, which have been suggested!!

) )

A group of garden lovers from Fife after their tour around the gardens of Aberdeenshire and Angus. We catch up with the lovely Fay Smith, who organises the tour,  from garden trips and teas to B and Bs and buses.

Warning: Stunning gardens ahead. This tour might provoke intense jealously!

A group of garden lovers from Fife after their tour around the gardens of Aberdeenshire and Angus.

We catch up with the lovely Fay Smith, who organises the tour, from garden trips and teas to B and Bs and buses.
Warning: Stunning gardens ahead. This tour might provoke intense jealously!

Hi Fay, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, and for sharing your experiences and photos. We hear you visited 11 gardens in 3 days, is that true? That's an awful lot of gardens.

Yes, 11 gardens in three days is a lot, but it is generally what we do (we have done five in a day - once), feeling that if we are in a particular area it makes more sense to have a good sense of several, to which we can return, if we wish, rather then an in depth knowledge of one or two!

The water at Blairwood House
The water at Blairwood House

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On our trip to Aberdeen we visited, Dunvorist Cottage, Arbuthnott House (Non-SGS garden), Glenbervie House (below right) and Blairwood (opposite), just outside Aberdeen, on the way up. The following day we visited Airdlin Croft, beyond Ellon, House of Formartine (home to Lord and Lady Aberdeen, Non-SGS garden), Bruckhills Croft and Birken Cottage. Wednesday morning we paid a very early visit to Grandhome on the edge of Aberdeen, then Gallery and House of Pitmuies, followed by a very popular visit to Ashbrook Nursery just outside Arbroath where all remaining luggage space on the coach was filled (luggage had already been installed on back seats of coach, below left). This tends to be the pattern and the coach drivers have become very accommodating over the years.

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Had you visited any of the gardens before?

I had already visited Gallery and House of Pitmuies, as had several of our group (they really are outstanding), but they are always well worth a visit and I suspect they will now have a new following. Both were looking splendid but with promise of lots more to come!

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Were any gardens particularly recommended?

Apart from studying the Yellow Book, I also use Ken Cox's book 'Scotland for Gardeners' and Discover Scottish Gardens, but like to speak to District Organisers, and it was James Byatt from Banff who recommended House of Formartine as well as Bruckhills Croft. Verity Walters recommended all the other Aberdeenshire Gardens we visited. Arbuthnott House came by way of Ken Cox's book and I already knew Pitmuies and Gallery. Dunvorist Cottage was a gamble as somewhere new but we were certainly not disappointed. Karen has created an amazing garden in less than five years, full of unusual plants (all labelled) and a breath-taking number of features in a relatively small area. I also find that when chatting to garden owners during the planning process, they are very keen to offer suggestions of where to visit in their locality and where is best to eat, or if there is a particularly good nursery nearby.

You mentioned that you and your fellow visitors were blown away by Birken Cottage, what drew you to it the most and why?

It was hard not to be impressed by Birken Cottage but it was not necessarily everyone's favourite garden. The plants and planting were stunning, colour everywhere, not to forget the hard landscaping! They have over 1500 plant species or cultivars in the garden, many unusual. Like so many of the gardens there was lots of promise to come. We missed out generally on roses, but saw the buds!

The lovely garden at Airdlin Croft recently  featured on Beechgrove Garden. It's quite a shady garden, how have they got around this with their planting?

Airdlin Croft was quite different but also popular. Having created their shady woodland from an empty tattie field, the Firmins have filled large areas of it with shade loving plants, particularly many of their collection of hostas. Their poly tunnel 'library' of hostas was equally impressive.

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Vivamus rhoncus justo vitae sem consequat, ac tristique neque maximus. Etiam et sapien vel ipsum tincidunt iaculis. Nullam sed purus mi. Morbi eu vestibulum augue, at dignissim metus.

Birken Cottage
Birken Cottage

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Vivamus rhoncus justo vitae sem consequat, ac tristique neque maximus. Etiam et sapien vel ipsum tincidunt iaculis. Nullam sed purus mi. Morbi eu vestibulum augue, at dignissim metus.

Airdlin Croft
Airdlin Croft