"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?"
As mentioned in last month’s diary we have been working on the pond network in the grounds over the last few weeks. Although the ponds were beautifully constructed with a “cunning” silt trap at the top end we are finding that the volumes of silt coming down the burn in times of flood overwhelm the Victorian system.
Perhaps it is as a result of large-scale forestry work up into the hills or merely the succession of heavy floods that we have had over the past years, but the build-up of silt has meant that we have been forced to tackle the problem. We have cleaned out and repaired the silt trap and drained both ponds to allow the silt to dry out and next week we begin the task of removing the silt. Estimates of how much silt vary but our best guestimate is somewhere in the region of 800/1000 tons. Whether it will be of any use as a top-soil replacement is also difficult to judge as the vigorous invader, Japanese balsam, seeds profusely above our ponds and spreads rapidly through self-seeding. Decision time is looming.
One interesting benefit to draining the ponds has been the sight of otter prints. Almost nightly the otter has been pottering around on the sand leaving it’s, distinctive, 5 toed padmarks as evidence. In fact Mike Ross, hotel chef and keen fisherman, saw an otter crossing the drive late one evening.
On the gardening front work goes on pruning, cutting back and generally tidying the beds for the winter. We have erected a new, larger pergola in the herb garden and once the fragrant climbers have scaled it’s sides it should prove to be a lovely spot to sit peacefully in the summer. We have also high pruned the giant sequoia and western red cedar at the bottom of the drive to show off these huge trees to better effect and also to allow more light into the, proposed, Japanese garden.
To all of you who have enjoyed the gardens and grounds over the past year Kenny and I wish you the best over the festive season and look forward to seeing you in the gardens next year. 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.