When architect David Bryce remodelled Dunbeath Castle in the 19th century, he also created the 'keyhole' approach drive which covers a distance of 0.5 miles. Steep embankments arise on both sides of the drive as the castle is neared. At this time, Bryce laid out two walled gardens, one on each side of the drive.
The Southern garden was created as a pleasure garden, and has remained in good shape over the years. In 1999 it was remodelled by Xa Tollemache - a Chelsea Garden Gold Award winner. Her brief was to add more warmth by adding height and privacy to the garden. This was done by adding 'rooms', four on either side of the long central herbaceous borders. Fuchsia hedging flanks three sides of the garden, adding an extra windbreak. The inner walls contain more herbaceous borders with climbers and apple trees. This garden contains a substantial heated glasshouse which is currently being renewed.
The Northern garden was originally a vegetable garden and contained the Laundry building and drying greens. This garden had fallen in to disrepair and was used as a cattle park until 1997. The laundry building was almost beyond repair and the garden walls beginning to collapse. Repairs were made and the laundry building now contains a picnic room, bathroom and plunge pool. Today, the garden is planted with ornamental grasses, iris, primula, roses and other tough plants and contains ponds and water features. Both gardens are very different and offer an interesting contrast in styles.
The gardens hold seasonal interest all year round, from the ornamental grasses and water features to the snowdrops, bluebells and daffodils that herald the beginning of spring. Later in the year, delphiniums, roses, dahlias and many others provide colour in abundance. No doubt, eagle eyed visitors will discover plants that are less well known in cultivation.