Saturday, 23 May 2015

The Hercules Garden, Blair Castle

At nine acres, the Hercules Garden at Blair Castle is said to the largest walled garden in Scotland.

The garden takes its name from the statue of Hercules placed in 1743 on top of a small hill just outside the south wall, from where there is a splendid view down into the garden below.

The Hercules garden was laid out by James Murray, the 2nd Duke of Atholl (1690-1764). He had the bottom of the small boggy valley turned into a series of ponds.

The ponds are dotted with islands, one with a miniature plantation of trees, several with duck houses, another known as the melon ground is actually a herb garden,

A 'Chinese' style bridge crosses one of the ponds.

The slopes on either side of the ponds are planted with widely spaced vertical lines of fruit trees, known locally as 'breaks'. The garden also incorporates herbaceous borders and a vegetable plot.

In the west wall is a small stone building known as the Apple House, furnished with a covetable 'country made' chair.

In the 1888's a gazebo known as MacGregor's Folly,named after a friend of the Duchess was included at the east end of the garden.

In 1924 elaborate gates were hung to celebrate the silver wedding of the 8th Duke and his wife.

But by the end of the Second World War the garden had fallen into decline and all the greenhouses were in a state of dilapidation. It was the late 10th Duke of Atholl (1931-1996), known as 'Wee Iain' who initiated the restoration. He died in 1996, the year the restored garden was opened to the public, and is commemorated in an inscribed stone as well as in the statues of a shepherd and a shepherdess beside MacGregor's Folly.

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