"The Atholl Palace is one of my favourite places where each year we meet up with good friends and have fun. It's the perfect place to stay in a perfect setting with lovely people looking after us. What more could a person want?"
The majority of the winter work programme is well on the way to completion. The rhododendron clearance of the Corriebruach drive and the herb garden walkway have changed the character of these areas.
On the Corriebruach drive we exposed an avenue of shrubs whose identity we were not sure of. Samples were sent off and the answer was Portuguese laurel. These are now mature trees but the original intention was probably a shrubbery with Box shrubs also in evidence. The whole effect has been to open up the driveway, let in more light and show-off the lovely house which, in fact, pre-dates the hotel. The herb-garden walkway is also totally changed. Again, much more light has been let in and after treatment this area will be planted with bulbs, woodland flowers and new rhodies. The main stairway is in the process of being re-furbished. Old shrubs have been removed and tough rugosa roses planted, all chosen with fragrance in mind. Further shrubs will be added throughout the season with an emphasis on colour and scent.
Sadly most of the winter-planted 1500 crocuss have been dug-up. Not by us, but by the jackdaws. To watch these intelligent birds picking out each individual clump has been frustrating, but we will return next season with ploy to outwit them. Also many of the wonderfully fragrant wallflowers have been eaten by the roe-deer, in a last ditch effort to protect some we erected netting, not ideal but necessary.
Ducks have been re-introduced to the ponds. Three pairs of mallard and a lovely pair of “call ducks” are waiting to be fed, don’t leave your left-over breakfast rolls!
Kenny witnessed a rare event on the pond edge. A female sparrowhawk with a pigeon kill. Earlier on this winter a peregrine was also seen with a pigeon kill. During the snow, footprints of fox and pinemarten were seen. The fox, with true boldness, had wandered around all through the gardens, even up to the main entrance.
The red squirrels are becoming ever more active. Sit for a while at any of the feeding stations, mid-morning is best, and you will be rewarded by a virtuosa performance.
Take a walk through the woodland down at the Kinnaird burn. Vaste clumps of snowdrops are out and some are rare or unusual. Winter aconite is also in flower, yellow clumps of understated beauty.
If birds are your interest then sit for awhile in the old walled garden. Flocks of cross-bill are about, feeding on the pine cones.
Spring will be with us soon, we hope, and the gardens will return with colour and fragrance. Enjoy them.
Innes finished in 04:41:34 and came 1987 out of 4117 who completed the race. A fabulous achievement!
Thank You to all sponsors.