• Sofias Country Gardens

Visiting Cawdor Castle gardens


Cawdor Castle dates from the late 14th century, when it was built as a private fortress by Thanes of Cawdor. It lies in the pictures parish of Cawdor in Narinshire, Scotland. The castle itself is a category A listed building, and the gardens are listed in the national listing of significant gardens Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland.


The gardens are well known, and extensive. Closest to the house is the flower garden, which was laid out around 1710 by Thane's brother Sir Archibald Campbell. There are still some old fruit trees surviving from this time amongst the beautifully clipped yew hedges, but much of the garden has been filled with perennial herbaceous beds and modern sculptures. I think this garden is one of the best examples I've seen of how to beautifully display artwork in a garden, as each piece is gently framed by its own little world.


One of my favourite sculptures is the bird feeder, which is a beautiful bronze sculpture called The Orchid Tree that is designed by Danish born sculptor Illona Morrice. As garden sculptures go, this one is my all time favourite!


In its own little calming garden, there is a sculpture of a large sphere with water cascading from its edges that represents the sun. It is designed by Scottish artist James Parker and made especially for the place by reusing old slates from the Castle roof.


The walled garden was remodelled in 1981 by Lord Cawdor, and incorporates 1200 holly plants in its amazing maze with a bronze sculpture of a Minos statue in the middle. Around

it is a Laburnum arch that flowers cascades of bright yellow flowers from may until June.


Beyond the maze lies the Knot Garden, where originally there was a parterre with plants for either for medical or culinary use. It has intrinsic shapes of box hedging that frame the aromatic plants, which include rosemary, sage and lemon balm.


In the middle is a star shaped bed with French sculptor George Jeanclos sculpture of Adam and Eve Driven from Paradise, signifying that earthly paradise did not last forever.


Behind all this, hidden away from view by the large yew hedges, lies the secret Paradise garden, a symbolic representation of "heaven on earth" that was designed personally by the Dowager Countess Cawdor in 1990.


The fantastic Bronze Fountain in the middle represents the personal cosmology of the Dowager, and the planting is colour-coordinated to a 'whiter shade of pale'. I could have spent a whole afternoon there, but there was much more to see. Behind the castle lies a wild garden with enormous trees, azaleas, rhododendrons and a collection of rare species from Tibet, and that too required its own time to explore. All in all, I think this was the highlight of this years Scottish gardens trip and I warmly recommend you to take your time to visit it.


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