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Dunrobin Castle - Scotland

gardens and grounds (Cont..)

Despite its location so far north, the Gulf Stream of warm sea water that flows from the Gulf of Mexico across the Atlantic brings sub-tropical conditions to western gardens from the Isles of Scilly to the North West Highlands goes on to sweep round Cape Wrath and John o ’Groats making its final influence felt at Dunrobin. The sheltered gardens are able to support a surprising range of plants, including at the foot of the steps leading to the garden, a huge clump of giant rhubarb, Gunnera manicata, a native of South America. This plant attracts much attention as its leaves measure eight feet. A native of Brazil and Colombia, it thrives in the mild winters and shelters between the Castle and the sea. Fuchsias too thrive. Previous head gardeners raised their own varieties and Fuchsia ‘Dunrobin Bedder’ may still be seen in the borders as well as bold clumps of Fuchsia magellanica var. miolinae with its flowers of palest shell pink and great banks of Fuchsia magellanica ‘Riccartonii’ with masses of small crimson and purple flowers.

Three box-edged parterres of ascending antiquity carry a succession of colourful floral displays round the garden as the season progresses. April sees early tulips in the lily fountain beds and week by week spring bedding then summer bedding schemes interspersed with displays of perennial geraniums and lilies take the season through to the finish with a blaze of late summer dahlias. Backed by the retaining wall of the Castle terrace the Duchess Border, dating in its present form from the 1920s, is a majestic sight. Long summer days so far north make for exceptionally tall herbaceous plants and between the buttresses of the wall, Californian lilies flower with early 20th century climbing hybrid tea roses, now rarely seen. Also enjoying the warm influence is Choisya ternata the Mexican orange blossom forming clipped evergreen mounds in a sheltered corner, its heavily-scented white flowers attracting butterflies and moths on summer evenings.

Beyond the grove of mature trees is a croquet lawn and there is a picnic area at the south-east corner of the gardens.

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