"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?"
A roof garden was not something we had anticipated being asked to produce at the Palace. But recently a request was made by a “bride to be” to add some flowers to what is really a fire escape on top of the new swimmingpool complex. We had a tight timescale to deal with this request, a matter of days and two tons of compost to get up, but to the surprise of us all….it seems to have worked.
With the exposed nature of the roof, wind and drying winds were our main worry so our choice of plants was limited. We settled for dwarf golden conifers, box and choisia to give a little height and structure, various forms of trailing ivy to bulk up and cover the containers in time and geraniums, bidens and verbena to add some seasonal colour. The overall result is pleasing and we intend to add more plants to extend the seasonal interest…the bride I am told was delighted.
The hanging baskets and containers are out. This year we made an effort to plan our colours. In the past we have taken a fairly casual approach to “colour co-ordination” and it seemed to work and be appreciated. We decided on various shades of red. So we ordered, nurtured ,planted and waited. The result is various shades of blue, lilac, white…almost anything but red. We fear the supplier has made a hash of things but we are not alone. The local “bloom committee” has had similar problems but with different colours. All is not lost, however, the baskets are filling out nicely and the random colours work, as they have done in the past.
For the bird lovers amongst you don’t walk far! In the main entrance to the hotel great tits are nesting in the main light holder and blue tits are in the corner of the roof behind some ornate metalwork. The parents, busy at this time of year, are back and forth every few minutes harvesting caterpillars from the surrounding trees. On the terrace of our new roof garden you will see swifts nesting. They have found a hole into one of the many chimneys and can easily be watched, at close quarters, coming and going in noisy fashion. A tree creeper has nested in the old summer house. This lovely old building was recently being re-furbished by “Mr Watson” but work has stopped to allow this shy little bird to rear her brood in peace.
Elsewhere in the garden the sun has brought on most of the plants. Delphiniums are truly spectacular in the herb garden, 8ft tall, iris’ of various forms are out, lupins can be found in several corners, the meconopsis have grown on well and our winter rose planting is about to bear fruit. Perhaps the finest rose of all, reputed to grow to 90ft but sadly nameless or namelost, can be found on the south wall of the main builing. It is only 2yrs old but is making it’s way up the wall and has a fragrance to die for. Seek it out and have a sniff. And the wisteria. It is passed it’s best now but still it climbs and will soon disappear over the top of the roof and beyond.
As gardeners we spend many hours at this time of the year keeping the grass down, and there is a lot of grass. In between times we water, weed and feed. But we still have time to wander around and enjoy the gardens. Each day brings something new to admire or in some cases remind ourselves of an obvious mistake, and one of the most pleasing aspects is getting feedback from the guests. Gardeners everywhere love to swap stories and gossip about their favourite plants and “how terrible the weather is” and we are no different. So however hard we look to be working we are always ready for a chat. Enjoy the grounds at this lovely time of year. Innes
Innes finished in 04:41:34 and came 1987 out of 4117 who completed the race. A fabulous achievement!
Thank You to all sponsors.