Historic Pitmedden Garden gets ready for Scotland’s changing climate

Chris Wardle (left) Chris Breadshaw (centre) Phillip Long (right). (Image: Michal Wachucik)

The conservation organization has worked with renowned garden and landscape architect Chris Beardshaw to redesign the upper parterres of Pitmedden, one of Aberdeenshire’s most famous gardens.

Pitmedden Garden has a history dating back to the 17th century and is famous for its formal parterre arrangement with a box hedge. This textured design was very much in trend at the time and requires constant care and attention to maintain.

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The new design, created by 14-time RHS Chelsea Flower Show Gold Medalist Chris Beardshaw, transforms one of the upper areas of the large garden using modern horticultural practices to maximize floral reward, biodiversity and aesthetics and those required for its care Reducing resources in the interest of sustainability and the changing climate. Species planted include grasses such as Deschampsia cespitosa, beautiful blue cornflowers, prairie plants such as Helenium, and three different types of peonies. Planted throughout 2021 by staff and students from the National Trust for Scotland Gardens, as well as specialist contractors and suppliers, this summer offers the first opportunity to see the new parterre in full bloom.

In addition to hedges, borders and 200 fruit trees in the rest of the garden, Pitmedden’s diverse nature is truly a treat for the senses and has something to offer for everyone.

The project is part of the National Trust for Scotland’s ten-year strategy, Nature, Beauty & Heritage for Everyone, and contributes to the charity’s commitment goals:

provide inspirational historical experiences and are a learning organization, championing skills to support traditional innovation and growth

It will also help support the charity’s efforts to become carbon negative by 2031/32.

The project was inspired and made possible by the generous support of Professor Ian Young and his wife Sylvia, who had a long association with and deep love for Aberdeenshire.

Philip Long OBE, Chief Executive of the National Trust for Scotland said: “The National Trust for Scotland seeks to preserve the rich history that Pitmedden Garden represents whilst introducing modern practices that make the garden more sustainable. As the climate changes, we need to be sure that Pitmedden Garden will continue to thrive in the future. The wonderful and inspiring design by Chris Beardshaw will help us achieve this and offer visitors an even more enriching experience in this beautiful place.

“We are very grateful to the generous donors who made this project possible. With support like this, our gardens can provide a place for plants and wildlife to thrive and for people to enjoy, giving everyone a chance to enjoy the outdoors, the beauty and the heritage.”

Chris Beardshaw, Landscape Designer, said: “My designs for the upper parterre focus on the concept of finding a modern response to the regimented geometry of the 17th and 18th century parterres which is said to have inspired the original designs for the wider gardens to have. These would have been traditional patterns on the ground, meant to be viewed from distance and height. For the new scheme, there was a clear need to present designs that encompass aspects of a formal pattern, but establish this using carefully designed robust plant communities to deliver sequential floral rewards while supporting each other. The planting was specifically selected to maximize biodiversity and aesthetic rewards but minimize resource requirements and more importantly place the viewer in the center of the design pattern, allowing for an immersive “deconstructed parterre” experience. It will take a few seasons for the planting to be planted and fully established but we are already seeing the broad design intent beginning to emerge, offering a wonderful complementary experience to the traditional lower formal parterres in Pitmedden.”

Neil Young, whose late father Ian and mother Sylvia supported the project, said: “Our late father, Professor Ian Robert Young, and mother, Sylvia Young, enjoyed their frequent trips to Aberdeenshire.

“As an avid gardener, our father was particularly drawn to the development of Pitmedden’s upper terrace. He was not a passive observer of the project but followed the unfolding work with great interest. We think he would have been delighted to see the Pitmedden vision translated into a stunning reality by Chris Beardshaw and the National Trust for Scotland.”

Professor Young grew up in Aberdeen and studied natural philosophy at Aberdeen University before earning his PhD there. He pursued a career as a medical physicist and was a major pioneer in the field of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), for which he received a number of awards including an OBE. After his retirement he and Sylvia developed close links with the National Trust for Scotland in Aberdeenshire. They supported some key projects in Crathes, Craigievar and Drum Castles.

Established in 1931, the National Trust for Scotland is Scotland’s largest conservation charity. He cherishes, shares and champions Scotland’s great heritage.

For the past 90 years the Trust has promoted public access to and common ownership of some of Scotland’s finest buildings, collections and landscapes. It takes care of more than 100 sites, from old houses to battlefields, castles, mills, gardens, coasts, islands, mountain ranges and the plants and animals that depend on them.

Scotland’s largest membership organisation, the National Trust for Scotland, relies on the support of its members and donors to carry out its important work.

To get involved and plan a visit to Pitmedden Garden visit www.nts.org.uk

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