Olga – our gardening adviser
I was Head Gardener for 2 years at Castle of Mey. When growing in Caithness it is not so much frost that’s the problem as the cold blast of wind from the coast. It was a real challenge of growing in a colder climate.
The garden is created with flowers and shrubs, vegetables and fruit. The first defence against the wind in the walled garden is a tapestry hedge which divides the garden into rooms and gives vital protection from the wind. I also managed to outwit the wind by growing only plants that proved themselves. Like pale yellow scented primula florinadae, the blue and sliver flower- heads of eryngium, geranium johnson and geranium psilostemon. There is a story from the previous head gardener Sandy Webster in which he notes the wind being so bad one day that it blew the cabbages over the walls, I didn’t quite believe the tale could be true until one November when there was a wind of 104mph.
The cooler climate in Caithness puts you much as a month behind everyone else in terms of growing and during tough years even up to two months behind. Therefore I used to bring on all vegetables under cover before they went outside even onions and brassicas. This method usually works fairly well although it didn’t help when we got frost in June!