In the mid 19th century David Bryce was commisioned to remodel the ancient Castle and bring it up to date. This visionary landscaping idea of making the Northern front of the Castle symmetrical and approaching it down a 3/4 mile long arrow straight drive in a classic "cut and fill" approach is a true masterpiece.
As one enters the last gates past the Lodge House one sees a glimpse of the front door some 3/4 mile away and comes down the steeply sloping drive in what is known as a "key hole" driveway. The Castle unfoldes before one in a framework of over hanging branches with the sea as a constant backdrop. Watch the sea's horizon slowly change the perspective during the approach.
Bryce laid out two walled gardens either side on the top of the steep banks of the cutting :-
THE SOUTHERLY WALLED GARDEN was first laid out in 1860 and has a number
of "make-overs" in the last 150 years. The most recent being when the current owners brought in Xa Tollemache, Chelsea Gold Medallist to remodel the whole garden.From her sketches and plans the
owners and gardeners have together created the garden as it is now.
It is deeply conventional in its mixture of vegetable, fruit, shrub and
flower growing but has managed to create a large number of garden "rooms",
each with its own feel and visual effect.
To see the garden at its best one should enter through the bottom door
and be amazed after the starkness of the Castle and its immediate surround
by the long mirror planted herbaceous borders running the whole length
of the garden. At the far end is the long greenhouse with its fine display
of hothouse plants and perhaps the UK's most northerly fig and apricot trees.
Take your time to wander through the garden "rooms" and reflect
that in the winter the wind can often blow at well over 100mph and the
salt spray drift all over this haven of peace and colour. Climb up into
the turret in the bottom corner of the garden for a panoramic view of both
the garden and the Castle.
THE NOTHERN WALLED GARDEN.Orginally the Laundry and vegetable garden but now turned into the water and fantasy garden. The laundry building was turned into a picnic room with plunge pool attached and a remarkable water feature made out of the original stone water butts for the laundry.
Three round ponds with a connecting stream run down the Southern side of the garden culminating in a mott with an octagonal “sitooterie” perched on top. Beside this a glass and copper gazebo float on a pond of water-lillies fed by a grotesque mask fountain.
This garden was created to oppose rather than compete with its neighbour and to be a place a tranquillity but amusement too.
The garden is a living, constantly evolving work of art, thus please please
do not mind if we are working on certain areas during your visit. There
is usually a cup of tea for visitors in the potting shed - and a bench
or chair to rest and relax and to let the cares of the world drift away
- welcome to Dunbeath.