Cawdor Castle and Gardens
The Castle dates from the fourteenth century and has been lived in by the family in a direct line ever since. The Cawdors have been keen gardeners over generations.
The oldest garden north east of the castle was enclosed with walls and bastions in 1620, and cultivated in the old-fashioned manner where soft fruit, flowers, vegetables and orchards were mingled closely together. Gradually, this area became a kitchen garden. In 1981 Lord Cawdor decided to remodel this garden and plant a holly maze. The pattern for this was taken from a design set in the mosaic floor of the ruined Roman villa of Conimbriga in Portugal, and which in classical form depicts the Minotaur's labyrinth at Knossos in Crete, a conundrum devised, mythologically, by Daedelus. In the second half of the garden is a paradise garden, knot garden and thistle garden, as well as an orchard that has been planted with old Scottish fruit trees.
The flower garden south of the castle was laid out a full century later, again in the old style. Later still, in 1850, Lady Cawdor added the oval rose-beds, edged with lavender, thus changing the framework towards formality, yet there is still a family feel and plants are chosen out of affection, not for affectation. Originally designed for enjoyment in late summer and autumn, this garden's season has been extended to give pleasure from early spring, with bulbs, bedding-plants, herbaceous borders, ornamental trees and shrubs all providing delight.
The wild garden on the stream bank of the Cawdor Burn gives another contrast; and beyond, paths that are conveniently marked, lead into Cawdor Wood: a mixed forest that is one of the finest and most beautiful in Europe.
Cawdor Castle and Gardens are open to the public annually from May 1st to the second Sunday in October, daily from 10am to 5.30pm with last admission at 5pm. As well as the castle and gardens there are nature walks in the Cawdor Big Wood; three shops; restaurant; snack bar & picnic area; 9-hole golf course and putting green.
The Auchindoune Garden, which is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays in May, June and July or by appointment, has an organic vegetable garden growing a variety of heritage vegetables; and a Tibetan Garden along the banks of the burn, which was planted with specimens brought back by Jack Cawdor from his travels with Kingdon Ward to the Tsangpo Gorges in 1924.