Nestled at the very tip of the British mainland, it is where the Queen Mother was said to be her happiest after spotting it by chance as she mourned the death of her husband King George VI .

And now the gardens at her beloved old Scottish home have been named among the best royal green oases in the world.

The well-cared-for gardens at the Castle of Mey are the only ones in Scotland to be featured in The Royal Gardens of the World, by Mark Lane, the respected radio and television broadcaster who presents a number of programmes, including the BBC’s award-winning Gardeners’ World.

Mr Lane’s book highlights 21 of the best royal gardens across the globe and includes those at the Castle of Mey along with such celebrated names as stunning Versailles in France and the organic showpiece of Highgrove House in Gloucestershire – which is the family home of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall – lavish Peterhof Palace in Russia, the Alhambra in Spain and the Taj Mahal in India.

Shirley Farquhar, managing director of the Queen Elizabeth Castle of Mey Trust, described the inclusion of the gardens in the book as “fantastic news”. 

She said: “We are delighted to be included in this wonderful book, which recognises the great effort and dedication of our small garden team. Gardening in the north of Scotland brings many challenges, such as the wet climate and strong winds.

“However, we are very fortunate the Great Wall of Mey affords much needed shelter.”

Each featured entry in the book has some of the history and evolution of the garden, plant portraits of key specimens and information about the design and layout. Other countries included are Italy, Germany, Spain, Austria, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Bali and Japan.
Mey’s gardens have been given a bit of a recent royal revamp by Prince Charles and the country’s best known gardener. 

Alan Titchmarsh has donated dozens of roses for a new section, while Charles has given two colourfully striking arbours and overseen a project to turn Mey’s gardens into a year-round attraction.

Prince Charles now spends over a week at the Caithness castle every summer, and recently told of his enduring love for it and thanked Mr Titchmarsh for his work in the spectacular showpiece near John O’Groats. Mr Titchmarsh, who knew the Queen Mother well – and admits Mey is his favourite garden – donated a large collection of roses in the Shell Garden. 

Mr Titchmarsh is a honorary patron of the castle’s friends’ organisation.

Writing a foreword to the Friends of the Castle of Mey’s annual newsletter the prince said: “I would also like to highlight the tireless work and dedicated spirit of the very small gardening team at the castle for all they have delivered over the past 18 months.

“Many new features await visitors to the garden – from the newly designed parterre and fruit cages to the two wooden arbours, constructed in the workshops at Dumfries House and installed on the north and south walls, where visitors can take a moment to sit and soak up the sheer delights of the most northerly walled garden on the mainland.

“In the difficult and often dark days of lockdown, I, like so many others, longed to visit places that remain dear, but staying safe and following the guidelines has undoubtedly helped to protect us from this dreadful virus.

“As the coming weeks and months roll on and, God willing, the restrictions ease, the glories of the Castle of Mey will once again be shared as the gates and doors open and the marvellous staff who look after the property can once again welcome visitors, friends and supporters from all over the world.”

Head gardener Chris Parkinson said he had discussed with Charles improving and revitalising the garden.

He said: “My goal is to create more focal points in the garden, so we are going back to a different style, and creating interesting features that make you want to have a nosy around time and time again. 

“One of our other focuses is to make the garden interesting all year round as in past years it has been mainly for show in July and August.”