Pitmedden Garden and Museum of Farming Life

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Pitmedden Village, Ellon, Aberdeenshire,
Scotland, AB41 7PD

01651 842352

01651 843188

Listed By

William Donelson

0000-00-00 00:00:00

Opening Days and Hours
Dates/days/times open:

1st May - 30th Sept; 7 days a week; 10am - 5.30pm. Last admission 5pm. Grounds open daily all year.

Parties/Coaches: Yes
Group Appointment: Yes
House Open for Viewing: Yes

Visitor reception, tea room and shop in house.

National Garden Scheme days: Yes

SGS day - 18th August 2013 Guided Walks - 1.30pm & 3pm

Best Times of Year to Visit:

July/August May

To see:

Herbaceous Borders, Bedding Plants, Fruit. Apple blossom

Admission Prices

Adult £6.50; Concession £5.00; Family £16.50; Family (1 parent) £11.50. Group Rate (20 Minimum) £4.50

Onsite Facilities
Parking: Yes
Shop: Yes
Teas: Yes
Dogs Allowed: No
Lavatories: Yes
Plants for Sale: No
Refreshment: Yes
On Lead only: No
Disabled Access: Yes
Lunches: Yes
Picnics: Yes
Special Events: Yes
Other Facilities & Comments:

Picnic area. Woodland Walks, Dog walking allowed on woodland Walks

Garden Features & Events

Spectacular formal parterres and annual bedding plant displays. Over 40,000 plants in the summer months. Museum of Farming Life. Art Exhibition. Sculpture Exhibition by John Maine (for 2013)

English Heritage/Visit Scotland Garden Grade:
National Collection:
Nearby Cambridgeshire Hotels, Facilities & Amenities

Hotels & Accommodation:

Beechgrove Holiday Cottage, Pitmedden Linsmhor Hotel, Pitmedden


Bronie Brasserie, Pitmedden Eat on The Green, Udny Green

Inns & Pubs:

Linsmhor Hotel, Pitmedden

Villages / Towns / Sightseeing:

Haddo House Toulqhoun Castle

Description of Garden

The Great Garden of Pitmedden has been celebrating fifty years in the care of the National Trust for Scotland in 2002. Pitmedden is situated in the heart of rural North-East Aberdeenshire, 15 miles north of the granite city Aberdeen. It is no coincidence therefore, that this magnificent Grade A listed Walled Garden was created using the finest granite.

The 1950's saw the beginnings of garden history as a serious discipline in its own right and upon acquisition, the Trust embarked on a remarkable pioneering project - to restore the original 17th century Great Garden of the Setons. To achieve this, Dr James Richardson - Inspector of Ancient Monuments at the Ministry of Works (now Historic Scotland) - was appointed to masterrnind the transformation from post-War market garden back to 17th century formality. Not without considerable local opposition to the change but with the blessing of Major Keith, the Head Gardener, George Barron and his staff set about the enormous task of clearing the three acre lower garden.

Hopes of finding traces of the original 17th century design faded as the much cultivated garden gave nothing away to reveal its past. With the original plans presumed lost in the 1818 fire, Dr Richardson turned for inspiration to the remarkable 1647 bird's eye view of the City of Edinburgh as drawn by James Gordon of Rothiemay, Banffshire. Four geometric parterres on the grand scale were designed. Three contained elements from the garden at the Palace of Holyroodhouse; the fourth, designed by Dr Richardson as a tribute to the Seton family, is based on the family Coat of Arms. The four parterres were painstakingly measured and marked out in sand, then planted up using over three miles of boxwood hedging - a slow process which took several years to complete.

Being mindful of the need to provide sufficient interest throughout an extended visitor season, it was decided to use densely planted annual bedding plants within the main parterres and retain the existing herbaceous borders to add extra summer interest. Neither of these features could possibly be considered 17th century, but no one could deny the breathtaking impact of looking down from the upper garden onto a riot of organised colour below. Currently over 80 varieties of trained apple trees adorn the walls, providing fragrant blossom in spring and producing a healthy crop of fruit in late summer. Yew obelisks and buttresses punctuate the lawn and three fountains provide the constant presence of water essential for any summer garden. A herb garden and rose border give interest and colour to the upper garden and two rows of pleached limes provide the framework for the two newly created parterres which trace the development of parterre gardens from early times when only coloured stones and herbs were used.

History Of Garden

Sir Alexander Seton is credited with founding the Garden in 1675. The house had been badly damaged by fire in 1818 but was rebuilt during the 1860's. Today, only the north wing contains visible fragments of the 17th century grand dwelling. It has been well documented that the fire caused the destruction of family portraits, papers and the, all important, plans of the original layout of the Garden. Indeed, the Trust is still keen to discover references to, or sketches of Seton's Great Garden in its earlier years.

The Keith family bought the Pitmedden Estate at auction in 1894. Major James Keith CBE (1879 - 1953) was one of the country's most influential agricultural improvers of his time, with a desire to combine traditional farming methods with the increasing sophistication of mechanical engineering. A shrewd businessman, keen to increase productivity, Keith successfully evolved his own style of farming. His expectations of his Garden would surely have matched those of his many farms so it is of no surprise that what the Trust inherited in 1952 was a magnificent working market garden producing fruit and vegetables in abundance

Major Keith, in a single act of munificence in 1952, presented to the National Trust for Scotland the Pitmedden Estate comprising the house, the walled garden, ancillary buildings, 100 acres of woodland and farmland, together with an endowment fund to provide for its upkeep. In 1978 the Trustees of William Cook of Little Meldrum, Tarves presented to the Trust the extensive collection of agricultural and domestic artifacts which Mr. Cook had amassed in his lifetime.

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