Old maps indicate that there were gardens in the present location to the north-east of the Castle from c.1600. What exactly this area was used for initially is unclear as there were other formal gardens laid out in the area to the south of the Castle which were demolished at some point. It is thought that this may have been for defensive reasons, as the demolition happened at about the time of the last Jacobite uprising. Certainly, after this happened, attention seemed to switch to the current site which was developed into three terraces of walled gardens over the course of the 18th and 19th Centuries.
20th Century Restoration
With the terminal decline of the main family, the Gardens were essentially left to their own devices and over the years it became an almost impenetrable jungle of self-seeded vegetation as owners of the Castle concentrated their attention on the building rather than the grounds. It was in this sad condition that the Clan Society was able to buy the Gardens in 1984. By this time only the top two terraces remained, nature having reclaimed the bottom, unenclosed terrace.
Archibald Menzies Garden
With the assistance of a grant from the Countryside Commission, the remaining terraces were cleared and the central staircase was repaired. Unfortunately, available resources are insufficient to do little more than keep what remains of the Gardens as neat and tidy as possible. However, with the assistance of the BBC gardening programme “The Beechgrove Garden” it was possible to plant out part of the upper terrace with some of the trees that Archibald Menzies identified or imported through his botanical work. This is an appropriate memorial, as Archibald Menzies was at one time an apprentice at the Castle Menzies Gardens.
21st Century Restoration
‘These gardens are our ancestral heritage and each year ideally we will see at the Clan Gathering, a group go in and continue to weed, clean and help the fruits. This is a learning tool, listen with your hands and she will teach you of her bounty and beauty’
Robert H Menzies
The concept of starting to refurbish the Walled Garden occurred when Sean Menzies found Robert Menzies family, had in their possession the Clan Chief’s Chair in California. It was returned after 3 years of coordinated work in 2016. When at the Clan Gathering presenting the Chair to the Society and Trust, Robert wandered into the Walled Garden. Having grown up with botanists and scientists around his family, it occurred to him here was a project, if accepted, he could embrace. And at the same time learn more of his heritage as well as to enjoy roaming Scotland.
It took five years of hands-on grounds maintenance to clear the lower portion of the gardens. Robert then came and spent 2 months one year and 4 months the second year in 2017. Cleaning, designing and defining what was in the upper garden, as thoroughly as possible, with much help from Sean and Luke Menzies family, to discover and release ancient fruits and trees. We are so lucky to have this amazing and historic feature of the estate cherished and protected by the Menzies Charitable Trust and enjoyed by so many.