Posted by: christinelaennec | September 17, 2011

A Birthday Treat: Crathes Castle Gardens in September

One of the days last week was my birthday!  Despite the Dafter STILL being off school unwell (second course of antibiotics), Michael and the Dafter gave me a beautiful birthday breakfast and delightful presents.  The Dafter made me not one but two cards, and also in the course of the day secured 16 (!) Tweets wishing me a Happy Birthday.  (One of them from Fanfair, who supported The Wanted in July.)  My cup was running over, but I received a most wonderful gift from Michael:  three hours to myself to visit Crathes Castle gardens.  He arranged to work at home and be nursemaid, and I took off in the car, playing my new Dolly Parton CD, ‘Better Day’.  As so often, the further West I went, the grey skies over Aberdeen gave way to SUN!!!

This post is very picture-heavy, but I have enjoyed re-creating my time at Crathes.  Fall is definitely in the air:

Harvest time in the fields next to Crathes Castle, Aberdeenshire. mid-Sept 2011.

I love the anticipation of walking down to the garden gate, and seeing it just peeping over the wall:

Going round the castle, the garden in the hollow beyond.

Once inside, it is breathtaking:

A path through one of the white borders. Crathes Castle gardens, Aberdeenshire, mid-Sept. 2011.

white and purple autumn crocuses, Crathes Castle garden, Aberdeenshire, mid-Sept. 2011.

Another border - these flowers were buzzing with bees.

A corner with stone mushroom and small box edging. Crathes Castle garden, Aberdeenshire, mid-Sept. 2011.

There are so many nooks and crannies to explore.  And there were so many bees and butterflies everywhere!  Obviously the air is very clean:

Pure air! Lichen in Crathes Castle gardens.

And lots of beautiful autumn colours:

Crathes Castle gardens, Aberdeenshire, mid-Sept. 2011.

A wee path through a part of the garden.

Peacock butterfly - these flowers were covered with them, as well as bees.

Although it wasn’t raining, I couldn’t resist sitting down in one of the rain shelters:

Rain shelter at the back of the rose garden, Crathes Castle garden, Aberdeenshire, mid-Sept. 2011.

I have to say I was somewhat comforted by how scraggly their roses are too – it hasn’t been a very good summer for roses, with so much rain and cold.

View from the rain shelter - Crathes Castle in the background, behind a large Rosa Moyesii with lovely hips.

The rustic construction of the rain shelter is typical of Highland architecture, using painted tree trunks and wood to beautiful effect.  It reminds me very much of Oregon!  A kind of Timberline Lodge transplanted to Scotland.

The roof of the rain shelter.

Some older folks were playing a fierce game of croquet on the lawn.  I love the crazy yew topiary!

Playing croquet on the lawn, Crathes Castle, Aberdeenshire, mid-Sept. 2011.

Looking down onto the gardens from the upper terrace.

One of the benches that I sat down on was in memory of a woman “who loved these gardens”.  I worked out from her dates that she was 51 when she died – the age I turned that day.  I didn’t feel it was creepy at all, I just felt very grateful for my life.  And who wouldn’t be happy to be alive in such a beautiful garden, on such a beautiful day!

I wish you a good rest of the weekend!



  1. HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I’m glad you had a great day. Scraggly roses and a life-affirming bench and all.

  2. Belated birthday wishes, Christine. What a great day out, you’ve chosen to share with us. Funny, that topiary and the croquet players made me think, ah, Christine in Wonderland.

    Hope the dafter is feeling much better, and the skies aren’t quite so grey over Aberdeen just now.

  3. What a perfect birthday treat!Looks like you had wonderful weather for it too.
    The pictures are stunning.
    Happy belated Birthday Wishes 🙂

  4. Happy belated birthday! What a thoughtful gift, looks like you had a lovely few hours.

  5. Happy Birthday! Mine was the previous week. I now have a rule that I either take the day off work, if my birthday falls on a weekday, or the day before or after if it falls on a weekend day. Life is too short to be at work on a birthday!
    What a lovely present from your husband. Visiting gardens with family is good, of course, but oh how nice to be able to be lost in your own thoughts going round a garden. Refreshment for the soul – who needs a beauty spa day? It looks as if it was ideal ‘hairst’ weather.
    Hope the Dafter defeats these bugs soon.

  6. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. First of all a very happy belated birthday Christine ( we ‘re the same age now..) And what a day it must have been, beautiful both the pictures and the gardens…The colours are great and better then here in Holland…..
    Hope The Dafter will be better soon…..
    Er xx

  8. Christine, many happy returns on your birthday. what a lovely present. the grounds are absolutely beautiful and i can almost feel the stress leaving my body as i look at the wonderful photos. i think i will need to visit there some day. the bench is an interesting occurrence … what a timely reminder that life is precious. i wish you a happy year .. one of many good memories and happy thoughts.

  9. Dear all,

    Thank you very, very much for your good wishes, for me and the Dafter. Martin, “Christine in Wonderland” is exactly right!

  10. Happy birtday and what a beautiful place, visiting a beautiful palace garden sounds like a dream birthday gift 🙂 And good health to your daughter!

  11. What a marvelous way to spend your birthday! A few hours in such delightful gardens refreshes the soul, doesn’t it?

  12. Happy Belated Birthday. Hope daughter is well soon. We all need that space – Crathes a wonderful place to luxuriate in.

  13. Happy belated birthday, that looks like a fabulous outing!

  14. I am late, but my wishes are true. Happy, happy birthday!

  15. Dear Dorit, Ellen, jill, Sigrid and Relyn,

    Thank you all for your good wishes, and also for the Dafter. I so much appreciate them! Like having an online party. 🙂

  16. And best birthday wishes from me too, Christine!

    Your birthday gift from Michael sounds perfect to me, although I am the tiniest bit surprised that it suited you so much – which demonstrates how little I know you 🙂

    However, each new posting you make reveals a little bit more, so by the time you reach my current age there shouldn’t be much left to tell!!

  17. A Happy Belated Birthday to you!! A lovely walk through such a beautiful garden! My favorites are the stone mushroom and the peacock butterfly! Sorry the Dafter is not feeling well and hope she is improving. I do admire your ‘take’ on finding out the bench was dedicated to a woman your very same age! We do feel gratitude for every year as we grow in wisdom, don’t we? You are still ‘young at heart’ and that is what matters! xx And still quite pretty, I might add….

  18. What a lovely day you had and those photos are stunning as always. A belated happy birthday and so glad to join you on wordpress (finally) :))

  19. Sorry to hear that the weather in Scotland has been dismal. I always imagined Scotland as a place of sunshine and bagpipes. It’s nice to see that the pink roses bloomed their best in spite of the gloom. Everything boils down to ATTITUDE. Bloom in the gloom! Farmergal

  20. Happy belated birthday Christine! Amazing photos of what looks to be a stunning outdoor Eden. How wonderful that the sun shone too- perfect treat.

  21. The gardens look beautiful. I’ve ‘googled’ Crathes Castle, to see where it is. There are so many places to visit.
    I’m going to attempt to take some cuttings of roses. I’m not a garden expert but this looked simple to do – I can but try. I’ll either have roses at the end or sticks in pots!

  22. Dear Karen, Heike, farmergal, Scruffybadger and ann,

    Thank you all so much for your comments and good wishes!

    Karen – flattery will get you everywhere!

    heike – I hope you like WordPress. I have no basis of comparison, but I like it.

    farmergal – you are so right about attitude. Dolly Parton would agree.

    Scruffybadger – all that’s missing here are some wacky photos of you showing off your fab clothes!

    ann – I think there was a feature on last night’s Gardener’s World (which I missed, but is on i-player for a week) about growing roses from cuttings. I’ve never tried it myself, but I know it can be done. Good luck!

  23. Belated happy birthday! Those gardens are so lovely. Now that our weather is slightly more tolerable, maybe I’ll take this as inspiration to do a little digging.

    • Dear Kelly,

      Thanks very much for your wishes. I hope you have some very lovely gardening weather this fall – and maybe someone to look after the children at the same time? Although I’m sure they will be wonderful helpers too.

  24. What a magnificent autumn day and a wonderful birthday present!

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