A wasp drone was used to reveal the walled garden from a bird’s eye view, showing details of the design, created by influential British horticulturist Gertrude Jekyll over a century ago, and its wider coastal setting not immediately visible from the ground.
Previously the site of a vegetable plot used by soldiers in the castle as far back as the 18th century, Gertrude Jekyll created her flower garden within existing walls. Gertrude designed the garden to flower in the summer months when the castle’s owner Edward Hudson was most likely to visit.
A unique garden revealed
‘Seeing the garden from above shows Gertrude’s design to full effect,’ says gardener Carol Macleod. ‘Because it is enclosed by walls the overall planting scheme can’t be seen at ground level but from a high viewpoint when the garden is at its peak the colours of the flowers stand out vividly from afar.’
The renowned architect Edwin Lutyens redesigned the garden’s perimeter walls, trimming down the south wall to allow views of the garden from the castle and back to the fortress from within it. Seeing the garden from the castle is a must alongside discovering the treasures concealed within the intimate space.
Battling the elements
The garden’s walls serve a practical as well as aesthetic purpose. ‘Gertrude’s garden is on an island in the North Sea,’ explains Carol. ‘When seen from above it becomes clear how close it is to the shoreline and how important the walls are for protecting the plants from the sea air and harsh winds.’
The garden lies inland from the castle, separate by a field where sheep graze. In July and August particularly it is a riot of colour, contrasting with the earthier tones of the pasture, sea and masonry work of the castle itself.
Maintaining Gertrude’s vision
Staying true to Gertrude’s design for a vibrant summer garden involves nine months of work from March to October. Each year Carol and regular garden volunteers Penny, Sheila, Jennifer and Joe replace annuals including Chrysanthemums, Calendula and Lavatera, which make up 65% of the garden.
Grown from seed in March, the annuals are hardened off to stand up to the North Sea winds before being planted out in late May. The annuals set the garden ablaze with colour during the summer and are then cleared in the last week October. In winter the garden remains a valuable habitat for insects.
‘Gertrude’s planting is challenging due to the high winds,’ says Carol. ‘The soil can dry out quickly and the plants can break and suffer wind burn. So seeing the garden come together each summer is very rewarding.’
More gardens revealed from the skies
St Michael's Mount in Cornwall is another coastal garden seen from the air in Glorious Gardens from Above. The series also visits Bodnant Garden and Bodysgallen in Conwy, Powis Castle in Powys, Mottisfont in Hampshire, Biddulph Grange Garden and Shugborough in Staffordshire, Hidcote in Gloucestershire and Cragside in Northumberland.