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A romantic and unique walled garden
When Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother bought the Castle of Mey in 1952, the gardens had been neglected for some years, but with the hard work of successive gardeners they have now returned to their former glory.
The gardens consist of the Walled Garden, the East Garden and a woodland area - with the overall design remaining much as it was in The Queen Mother's time. The East Garden is dissected by Fuschia hedges for shelter. The individual sections are planted with woodland plants such as Primulla, Meconopsis, Astilbes, Hellebores, Hostas, Ferns and Foxgloves. Visitors are very welcome to follow the paths through the woods.
Her Majesty The Queen Mother's experienced green fingers ensured that the garden at The Castle of Mey prospered. She even managed to nurture her favourite old rose, Albertine, into scented abundance behind the Great Wall of Mey. The garden is full of marigolds, pansies, dahlias, primulas and nasturtiums, while old-fashioned shrub roses and climbers form the highlights of the Shell Garden, where The Queen Mother would sit with her corgis in the afternoons. It is as it was in Her day, the same Albertine rose still grows on the wall, as does the London Pride surrounding each rose bed.
The Walled Garden is separated into sections by mixed hedges both to work as windbreaks and to create surprises around each corner. The fruit, vegetables and flowers grown in the garden and greenhouse are used by HRH The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay when he is staying in the castle. HRH takes a great interest in the development of His Grandmother’s garden and the effects of the Caithness climate has on it. The produce is used in the tearoom with any surplus being sold at the plant-stall in the Visitor Centre.
Although The Queen Mother contributed greatly to many royal gardens, it is perhaps the Castle of Mey's that is more hers than any other. It is no coincidence that her grandson, HRH The Duke of Rothesay, is today one of our most celebrated royal gardeners. He is helping the Trustees with their plans to extend the growing season for the benefit of our early season visitors, which is no easy task this far north. He greatly enjoys the gardens during his annual visits, just as his grandmother did before him.
This romantic and unique garden is a reminder that, however daunting the weather, it is often possible, with a little vision and energy, to create and maintain a garden in the most unlikely of locations.
The Gardens of Mey are open during the season and on three days each year proceeds are donated to Scotland's Gardens Scheme.
We hope you enjoy visiting the much loved Gardens at the Castle of Mey. Don't forget to visit the Tearoom where we use produce straight from the garden