A few weeks ago I visited the extraordinarily beautiful, lush and sculptural Drummond Castle Gardens in Crieff, Scotland.
"Drummond has all the characteristics of a courtly, 17th century Scottish Renaissance garden. It is a composite garden, restructured in early Victorian times and renewed again in the 20th century when the garden framework and the exceptional interest of the original 19th century design were carefully preserved."
Looking through the many photographs of the day, it's as if there was no-one else there but me and that's pretty much how I remember it; a mid-week July day in the middle of a Scottish heatwave - extraordinary in itself!
The gardens are so grand and majestic and the weather was so glorious, it could have been any of the great formal gardens in Europe or beyond. In fact, Drummond is on the list with the finest, and I can see why.
Featuring French and Italian influences, Drummond is an eclectic garden with its fountains, terracing, urns and statuary.
It was so peaceful and serene, and I couldn't help but smile as I wandered, though I was alone.
"A ballad describes the gardens full of “evergreens and flowers…and the waterworks are a’ let on..."
Approximately 130 steps lead down into the garden, towards a multiplex 17th century sundial at its centre, however this was unfortunately away for refurbishment on my visit.
A fountain is always a focal point though, while the white statues were so stark and regal against the backdrop of green.
There was a 15-minute woodland walk which I decided not to do, purely because I was wearing inappropriate footwear. I was intrigued by the kitchen gardens however and loved the big glasshouses and cold-frames filled with plants, flowers and fruit.
There was a polite sign asking people not to touch or pick the peaches to prevent bruising and wastage.
Fair enough, but it was tempting. I can imagine how Eve felt in the garden of Eden...
This scene with the wheelbarrow and the hose pipe just struck me as so perfect and beautiful. I love the sense of hidden hands toiling to make this garden beautiful; their tools on display as if the garden itself is an outdoor art gallery, which really, it is.
It's similar here with this beautific statue with the weeds and earth at her feet. The juxtaposition makes it interesting and the colours make it pop.
The buckets destined for the compost heap inject a sense of life and realness into the scene, like seeing the fruits of the effort that go into the maintenance of such a pristine space.
Then there was this tree with eyes. Real eyes it seems, like an old, magical tree. I wonder what stories it could tell from the days of the Jacobite Rising?
Meanwhile, the regimented curves and lines of low-cut hedges created a mini-maze effect, shaped in part like an Aztec eye.
These foxgloves nestled between shady rocks reminded me of those I saw on Arran a few years ago, their abundance so gleeful and cheery. The colour is so special in contrast to the greens of weeds and ferns and moss. It was the perfect goodbye from Drummond Castle Gardens.
Drummond Castle Gardens are open May to October, with no access to the Castle. Find out more & buy tickets.