These are one of the great formal gardens of Scotland, created by Sir Alexander Seton, 1st Baronet of Pitmedden in 1675. It was designed as a private pleasure garden; a 17thC status symbol of wealth.
The house was built in 1860 after the original house built down and is a typical scottish harled house with crow step gables. The house is not open to the public apart from reception, shop and very good tea room on the ground floor.
From the reception area with a small shop, you pass through the conservatory into the gardens. There is a large area of grass behind the house with tall specimen trees. There is a small fountain surrounded by carefully clipped yews and carefully trimmed beech hedges dividing up this part of the garden. Behind the beech hedges are two small parterres with carefully clipped box hedges, gravel and bedding plants.
Pyramidal clipped yews lead down the lawn past the fountain to the walled garden, with a splendid entrance gateway with steps leading down to the garden. There are impressive views from the top of the wall down onto the garden. This is divided into four squares, each with a different design and central fountain. The squares are marked out by low clipped beech hedges with lower hedges inside marking out the pattern. Bedding plants like geraniums, French marigolds and salvia fill in the designs and provide colour. There are over five miles of box hedging in the gardens which takes three months to clip.
A central avenue of pyramidal clipped yews leads to a gateway through the wall at the end of the garden. Beyond is woodland.
Cordoned apple trees grow along the walls and there are colourful herbaceous borders along the west and south walls with montbretia, astilbe, monkshead, Japanese anemones, golden rod, geraniums. At the corners of the north wall are two pavilions. The north west one, called the Thunderhouse Pavilion, is open and has panelled walls, quarry tile floor and a small fireplace. It contains a round table and chairs with a selection of gardening books. There are display panels with some history of the garden.
To the north of the pavilion is a human sundial. An apple tree arch leads along the side of a small herb garden to the farmhouse and stables. The farmhouse has been furnished about 1800. There is an outside toilet with a bucket and wooden seat. The kitchen has an iron cooking range with hand knitted socks hanging above it. On the mantle piece are two china dogs. Hanging from the beams are preserving pans. In the centre is a large work table with earthenware pots and a tin of tobacco. On a wall is a dresser with blue and white china. Across the hallway is the best sitting room with a table covered with a chenille cloth. There are easy chairs around the fireplace with Paisley throws over them. There is a sideboard and glass display cabinet with a stuffed bird above. On the walls are prints and there is a grandfather clock.
A central staircase leads up to a bedroom over the living room. This has a brass bed, cot and wooden crib. There is a wash stand with bowl and jug. The fireplace has a crocheted fringe along the top and above is a large print with a picture of cows. Above the bed is a religious text.
A second room above the kitchen contains a collection of household items.
In Aberdeenshire, it was the custom for staff to change farms regularly, There were spring and autumn hiring fairs and single men would move every six months. Married men moved every year.
This is a delightful garden with hardly a weed in sight. There were two gardens working when we visited. There were bees and butterflies in abundance.
It would be quite easy to spend half a day here as there are a couple of walks around the estate. Do try and visit on a sunny day. Entry is £6.50 or £5 for concessions which we felt was reasonable. Visitors who are not NTS or NT members need to pay £2 parking charge. The only toilets are by the car park. There are none in the garden. The tea room in the house is excellent.