Crathes Castle


Aberdeenshire AB31 5QJ

Why We Should Visit

The magnificent scenery of Royal Deeside, with the Cairngorms rising in the distance, made a poignant backdrop to the final journey of the late Queen. Crathes Castle has presided over this imposing landscape for almost five centuries.The castle is a classic Scottish tower house and set out around its high walls are some of the finest gardens in Scotland. Formal in places and wild in others, the gardens have historic elements, classical features and modern touches, all of them maintained to the highest possible horticultural standards.

Story of the Garden

This is a very old garden with ancient yew hedges that date back to 1702, but for a time it was abandoned before being rescued and restored exactly 100 years ago by Sir James Burnett and his wife, Lady Sybil.

Together they designed the layout of eight garden rooms, divided by high hedges, that exists today and they sparked a fashion when they created an entirely white border.


Giant topiary figures, a formal pool and a doocot give the gardens at Crathes a timeless appeal. Within the framework of hedges a succession of flowers and shrubs bloom throughout the year, while a collection of heritage Malmaison carnations, which are notoriously difficult to grow, is nurtured in a range of Mackenzie and Moncur greenhouses.

Don’t Miss

The castle itself is filled with artworks and historical treasures and the reward for climbing the many stairs to the top of the tower is the fine view over the gardens and over the surrounding woodland, which includes an important collection of rare conifers.

Anything Else to Look Out For?

Waymarked trails through the woods give visitors the chance to explore the estate and to spot red squirrels, pine martens, buzzards and a whole range of wildlife that lives in and around the grounds.

Best Time to Visit

The June borders at Crathes are renowned for their colour and profusion, but they are just one of a series of carefully-planned displays that unfold throughout the year, while the framework of the formal garden ensures that the enclosed spaces continue to perform even when the flowers have faded and the trees are bare.

Any Recommendations in the Area?

Banchory is prime walking country, with flat trails along the River Dee, a bracing climb to local Scolty Hill and the lure of the Cairngorms themselves. The area is also littered with prehistoric sites, including stone circles and cairns.


Crathes Castle is on the A93, 15 miles west of Aberdeen


The castle, cafe and gardens are open Thursday-Sunday, 10am until 4pm. The Wild Wood Adventure Play area is open Saturday and Sunday.

The castle grounds are open daily, dawn to dusk.


£14.50/£10/£1(Young Scot)

Tel: 01330 844525


Climate change is proving to be a challenge, making our weather unpredictable and disrupting flowering patterns, but the best way to protect gardens from weather extremes is by filling them with plants that have been grown locally and are adapted to the conditions.

Ashbrook Nursery in Arbroath has more than 30 years’ experience of raising plants in a way that makes them tough enough to withstand whatever the climate. It does this by raising them ‘hard’, which means that they are given only the minimal protection needed to survive when they are little and spend more time out of doors than they do in heated greenhouses.

The nursery stocks 2000 different varieties, including alpines, perennials and grasses that have been raised in this way and it also sources from other growers with similar regimes.

The result is strong and healthy plants that don’t suffer a setback when transplanted to real garden conditions.

Ashbrook has recently created a ‘Woodland Wander’ area, where visitors can discover creative ways of using plants, including a no-dig shade border and a stumpery combines ferns and other woodland plants with logs and branches, to decorative effect.

Ashbrook Nursery

Forfar Road

Arbroath DD11 3RB

In association with Discover Scottish Gardens.