"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?"
How often do you hear gardeners saying that they need rain ? Well we did at the Palace but as is often the case it seems to have forgotten to stop. The latter part of May has been very wet and cool. If we get a warm summer then this water will help as the ground will be well soaked and the trees and plants will have a plentiful resevoir of moisture in their system. For the large trees in general and the lime avenue in particular this is a very important aspect. Indeed we have been having talks with various “experts” about the lime avenue as it seems to be showing signs of stress and drought seems to be a likely cause.
More damaging, however, was a very sharp frost in mid-May. Many of the older, established plants got a “burning” and their new, verdant growth looked sad and dead. The beech hedge in the herb-garden was one such but usually this is only a temporary setback and fresh growth should push through soon. Surprisingly all of our new fruit trees survived the frost but they were later to come into blossom which was a help. Now they are all looking well with plenty of flowers. Our herbs are also growing well, mostly. I say mostly because our various forms of rosemary have been disappointing. Some died perhaps because they weren’t as hardy as we had thought, but more are just sitting there….refusing to either die or grow. We have a feeling that they may need a bit more drainage around their roots so we will try that.
As I said last month we are pleased with our rose planting. The odd one has failed to bud but most look very healthy and once the rain stops and the sun comes out we are hoping for a good show. Our tulip planting in various areas was a success and we have been very pleased with the positive comments we have had from many of the hotel guests about the changes we have made over the winter. We are also delighted that some of the regular guests are beginning to bring cuttings and seedlings from favourite plants from their own gardens. We accept these with great pleasure and are keen to offer our own plants to anyone who expresses an interest, providing we have spares, or ask us about any particular plant that takes your eye and we will try to take some cuttings for you.
Our ducks have failed to breed again. The mallard drakes hung around faithfully for their mates but no ducklings appeared. Crows and mink seem to be the main problem and even down on the river few ducks seem to have young. The red squirrels are always active, plus a pair of greys. Worryingly I noticed a recent press report that the virus which kills the reds, but is carried by greys, has made it across the border so we may soon be involved in a campaign to deal with the greys. But we will wait awhile until proper, scientific advice is released as to the best course of action to take.
Because of the wet, cool conditions many of the plants are behind so if you are booked to stay at the Palace in June you should be rewarded with a colourful display. Perennials, rhodies, azaleas and wild flowers are just some of the gems to be seen…..and remember to take a stroll around. The herb garden is only 2 mins. from the main entrance and there are several short woodland walks which have much to offer. Enjoy it all. Innes Smith
Innes finished in 04:41:34 and came 1987 out of 4117 who completed the race. A fabulous achievement!
Thank You to all sponsors.