Picton: Discover the Castle & Gardens

Read a brief history of the beautiful buildings and grounds at Picton Castle

By Picton Castle & Gardens

A view of Picton CastlePicton Castle & Gardens

Picton Castle itself dates back to 1280 and it is easy to see how the architecture of the building has evolved over its history. 

Trying to decipher the evolution of the garden is not so easy.

The Walled Garden in JulyPicton Castle & Gardens

Deciphering Gardens

A lifetime’s work for one gardener is only the briefest of periods in a garden of this age.  What you can see today is the result of many centuries of gardening styles, each overlaying the next, where no one style predominates. 

North East viewPicton Castle & Gardens

There is very little documented evidence of the garden’s development.  A general picture can be obtained from various maps and pictures, bills and descriptions written by visitors of the past.

Other glimpses can be found in the garden itself such as the recipes for complex potting compost mixtures written a hundred years ago on the back of the potting shed door. 

The grounds and gardens of PictonPicton Castle & Gardens

The 18th Century

An estate map of 1746 reveals deer parks to the north of the castle. The oldest trees in the garden were planted around this time, while closer to the castle were walled enclosures and formal Baroque shrubberies in an elaborate pattern.  

South Lawn and Old PortPicton Castle & Gardens

During the latter part of the 18th century the landscape style became fashionable. The formal gardens were replaced by rolling lawns and open parkland. 

The grounds and gardens of PictonPicton Castle & Gardens

The 19th Century

 In the 1820s building of the present walled garden began. By 1860 a modern hot water system had been added which circulated hot water through four inch cast iron pipes, enabling exotic fruits to be grown such as peaches and pineapples. 

Old Port with a visitorPicton Castle & Gardens

Around this time many of the older trees in the garden such as the Turkey oaks (Quercus cerris) and silver firs (Abies alba) that line the drive, were planted. These are now majestic trees. 

Two redwoods and the massive Rhododendron that sprawls across the lawn also date from the same time. The structure of Victorian planting and lawns remains the basis of the garden at Picton today. 

The grounds and gardens at PictonPicton Castle & Gardens

Garden accounts from the 1880’s include items such as a stove, peat, lawn mower, tree labels, peach trees, strawberry plants, apple trees, chrysanthemum cuttings, hyacinths, nuts, Pines (pineapples) and Prunus plums. 

The grounds and gardens of PictonPicton Castle & Gardens

From our surviving stack of prize certificates we know that flower shows as far away as Bristol were attended and that potted plants, cut flowers (especially Chrysanthemums), vegetables, grapes and peaches were exhibited on a regular basis. In those days what you grew in your  garden commanded you potentially great status. 

The grounds and gardens of PictonPicton Castle & Gardens

The walled garden would have been a hive of horticultural excellence and during this period at least twenty gardeners were employed, working around the clock to keep the fires burning.

Over looking the walled gardensPicton Castle & Gardens

 With the start of the First World War the gardeners left and as with many other grand old gardens much of the grounds were reclaimed by nature. In 2019 work began to restore the Walled Garden and Glasshouse to its former glory. Work should be completed by mid-2021. 

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