"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?"
Scent is an essential part of any garden, we feel. From the heavy, sweet fragrance of a mature honeysuckle to the delicate, chocolate of chocolate cosmos both of which are in flower in the gardens just now.
But perhaps the gem of all scented flowers comes from an unlikely source. It’s a straggly, unattractive plant but we have grown it from seed and planted it down the step ways, in baskets and other discreet places. You won’t notice it during the day but if you happen to be out at dusk and get an unusually pleasant “wiff”, you are in the presence of matthiola bicormis, night-scented stock…enjoy it.
The herbaceous border is in fine fettle just now despite the wet weather and annoyingly strong winds. Plants to look out for include various campanulas, lilies, lycnis, perennial dahlias, lavatera, camomile and salvias. The poppies of last year have self-seeded and are a wonderful show varying from blousy, bright flower heads to delicate, papery ones. We grew sweet William from seed last year and planted out the seedlings. We had forgotten what a lovely, overlooked plant this is. It has provided wonderful colour and scent in the beds and is a must for cut flowers, which we take into the hotel every few days.
The perennial herbs have come back with a flourish. Most are picked daily to supply the kitchens with their needs but some we have left to grow on and flower to encourage and feed the many species of bees and hoverflies, which work the beds. Evening primrose, echinacia and bergamot are promising a great show and the new border, which we created under the fruit trees, has delphiniums, hollyhocks, sweet peas as well as salad vegetables. The owners had asked for a small sensory bed and this we have created next to the pergola where the scent of lavender and prostrate evening primrose can mingle with the fragrant climbing roses and honeysuckle which are steadily covering the frame. Soon we will be adding fruit trees and bushes in the ongoing work to make this area of the grounds a really special place.
The tadpoles have moved on and become frogs. Wee frogs which we hope, in time, will return and start a new generation of tadpoles in our developing pond but meantime are out in the rough areas of the herb garden eating slugs and other annoying bugs. Many of the young birds have fledged and are now feeding on the peanuts in large numbers. Young of the many tits, great spotted woodpecker, siskin and green finches can be seen regularly, with young red squirrels sometimes making a discreet entrance. We had to rescue a tawny owl from the staff quarters. It seems it had flown in the doorway, drifted up two levels and found safety atop the light shade. After gently prizing it off the fabric we took it outside and released it back to the woodlands. Enjoy the gardens, the colours and the scents. Innes Smith
Innes finished in 04:41:34 and came 1987 out of 4117 who completed the race. A fabulous achievement!
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