Invercauld Autumn Colour
Invercauld, Braemar, Aberdeenshire
12.50pm, Saturday 19 October
Invercauld has been in the continuous ownership of the Farquharson family since 1632. A canny knack of keeping a low profile when called for, coupled with a finely attuned political antenna that found the family on the victorious side at crucial moments in Scottish history, led the Farquharsons to rise from vassal to landowner in less than a century. During the C18 the family added to their estate with the purchase of the attainted lands of the once mighty Earls of Mar; consolidating ‘haughlands’, Caledonian pine forest and heather moor either side of the River Dee into one of the largest private landholdings in the country.
The Invercauld designed landscape emerged out of a series of ‘improvements’ implemented during the late 18th and 19th Centuries. Today it radiates outwards from Invercauld House stretching south across the Dee flood plain to Charter’s Chest, Lion’s Face Rock and Craig Choinnich and northwards to Craig Leek and Little Elrick. The Munros, Lochnagar to the east and Ben Macdui to the west, bookend the views up and down the Dee Valley creating a setting for Invercauld House that is monumental in scale.
In 1987 Invercauld was included in the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland and in 1995 Invercauld Estate commissioned a Designed Landscape Management Plan to guide future management and maintenance work. The historical research was undertaken by Fiona Jamieson and although it is not associated with well known garden designers, the landscape was found to have been laid out with arboriculutral expertise by the Farquarson family.
Key features are the larch roundels planted in the Dee haughlands, some of which date back to the earliest introduction of the species and exotic conifers from North America, planted during the 1870s which stud the upper Parks and populate the Victorian Garden. Walks and drives thread their way through the woodlands that clothe the hill slopes below the rock outcrops that are the sculpture within this expansive landscape.
Invercauld Estate implemented elements of the plan, removing the Christmas tree nursery from the parks and planting trees where funds allowed but it is only now, under the current tenant, that a major programme of conservation, restoration and enhancement in accordance with the designed landscape management plan has begun. Since 2012 the emphasis has been on restoring the health of the tree population and Patrick Randall a local tree surgeon has been working with Donald Rodger (arboriculturist) and Vanessa Stephen (landscape architect) to ensure that the specimen trees in the parks and Victorian Woodland Garden can be seen and admired. We are hopeful that in October, the larch from beneath the Lion’s Face Rock will have been extracted to expose the craig in views from Invercauld House. Botanical labels have been made for selected specimens that identify the tree planter and copper beech trees have been replanted at the east end of Lady Carr’s Drive. Estate fencing has been repaired and replaced and the derelict kitchen garden has been reinstated as a fruit and flower garden.
The designed landscape management plan will continue to be implemented in stages but this is an ideal time for interested groups of people to see a work in progress and Invercauld House invites members of the Garden History Society in Scotland, Braemar Castle Volunteers, Ballater Royal Horticultural Society & The Royal Scottish Forestry Society to Invercauld for guided walks through the policies followed by afternoon tea in the Ballroom.
Vanessa Stephen, formerly of Turnbull Jeffrey Partnership (authors of the designed landscape management plan), landscape architect to Invercauld Estate for 13 years and to the current tenant for 18 months will talk about the evolution of the designed landscape and will lead walks through the policies and gardens.
Donald Rodger, Arboriculturist, who undertook a survey of the trees at Invercauld in 2012 and author of Heritage Trees of Scotland and Heritage Trees of Britain will give his expert view on the Invercauld tree collection, significant trees within the policies and the work that is being done to conserve and manage them.
12.50pm: Guided walk from Walkers Car Park (a Minibus will depart at intervals from 1pm)
1.30pm: Gather at Invercauld Ballroom
1.45pm: Welcome: Jonathan Wilton Invercauld House and Garden Manager
2pm: A brief history of the designed landscape and the works in progress Vanessa Stephen
2.20pm: Talk on the trees and forests of Invercauld Donald Rodger Arboriculturist
2.40pm: Guided walk through the landscape
Afternoon Tea served in the Ballroom from 3.30pm
Email Grace Ellis for an information pack or download it here it includes a Booking Form, full details of the programme, the Inventory description and maps. There is a suggested £5 donation for tea. Bookings should be returned by 19 September.
Invercauld, Braemar, Ballater, Aberdeenshire, AB35 5TW