A blooming inspiration

In August last year, Gary and I became National Trust members, and I believe within the first few months, we felt like we had already got our money’s worth. In the southeast of the UK, there are so many beautiful castles and stately homes to visit.

We headed to Scotney Castle last Autumn and discovered that it had a wide variety of rhododendrons and azaleas we knew we had to revisit in the spring. These ericaceous plants are always stunning to see when there are no limits to their growth, and they are able to truly stretch their legs.

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A small slice of Scotney in our garden

Delicate blooms of a rhododendron
The magnificent National Trust gardens are cared for so exquisitely and are always such an inspiration for your own garden. Even with the planting scale to be admired at Scotney Castle, you can add your own vision.
Our pink rhododendron in full bloom in a pot in our little English Country Garden
Our Rhododendron in a pot

We have a gorgeous pastel pink blossomed rhododendron in our own garden in a pot. Not only is it a pleasure for us to enjoy, but the wildlife loves it too, so it’s a win, win.

We have also managed to nurture a bright pink camellia in our garden, and it performs pretty well, considering I didn’t really think our soil was very acidic.

The planning of Scotney Estate

An eye for detail
Scotney Castle gardens wouldn’t entirely be the spectacle they are without the enchanting backdrop of the Old Scotney Castle. The 14th-century castle was built in 1377 when the threat of a French invasion was impending.
The ruins of old Scotney castle, set in the lush green Kentish landscape, framed by Rhododendrons
Scotney Castle framed by Rhododendrons

Over the following 400 years, the medieval fortress slowly deteriorated, and in 1778 the Hussey family moved into Scotney Estate.

Under the guidance of Edward Hussey III in 1837, Scotney House was built high up on the hill overlooking Scotney Old Castle below.

A close-up of the bright red blooms of azaleas at Scotney Castle in Kent
Bright cerise azaleas
During the period of 1834 to 1843, the design and planting of Scotney Estate were undertaken. William Sawrey Gilpin, the gardener to Edward Hussey, managed to naturally integrate the surroundings of the new sandstone Scotney House with the rolling Wealden landscape and the moated fairy-tale ruins of Scotney Old Castle.

Tranquillity throughout the gardens

Those eye-catching moments
The moment you enter the gardens at Scotney, you are greeted with exquisite, vibrant blooms of purple rhododendrons and sunshine yellow azaleas. Ensure you keep a lookout for the buzzing bumblebees searching for the delicious nectar before breathing in the hypnotic fragrance.
Scotney House on a bright spring day with pink & purple rhododendrons framing it in the foreground.
Blossoming Scotney House
A path leading up to Scotney House on a bright spring day lined on both sides with colourful rhododendrons and azaleas.
The captivating planting at Scotney

It’s such a pleasure ambling through the spring gardens at Scotney. At times you feel like you’re the only people there; it’s just you and the local wildlife.

Just keep wandering with every twist and turn; you’ll never know what you’ll discover. While we were exploring, we came face to face with a magnificent Giant Redwood tree. We were unaware there was even one at Scotney Castle.

A lone towering Giant Redwood tree stands proud in front of the lush gardens of the Scotney Estate in Kent
A Giant Redwood at Scotney Castle
A small babbling stream flowing through the grounds of Scotney Castle
A shaded babbling brook
The Giant Redwood trees make such an impact as they stand so slender and majestic. Although, I don’t think I will be mimicking this in my garden.

Mooching around Scotney Estate

Discovering the perfect view
Strolling further through Scotney Estate, we’re heading towards the charming, moated castle; however, the old rustic boathouse was our next sight. It sets quite a scene, and you can imagine the Hussey family having fun boating around the moated castle.
The derelict red-tilled boathouse reflected in the moat at Scotney Castle in Kent
The Boathouse
There are plenty of routes to take around Scotney Estate, but to ensure you catch the iconic sight of Scotney Castle and Scotney House in one view, wander around the outside of the moat. You won’t be disappointed.
Scotney ‘old castle’ with the ‘new castle’ visible on the hill top
Scotney ‘old castle’ and ‘new castle’
The gardens all around Scotney Castle are incredibly lush; the plants thrive in the conditions here.

Exploring Scotney Old Castle

Take it all in your stride

As you approach the old castle, it is a glorious sight. In your mind, you envisage romantic couples strolling arm in arm through the manicured gardens. Brushing past delicate flowers and butterflies fluttering from bloom to bloom.

Perhaps it’s just me.

The moat in front of the lush green grounds of the ruins of Scotney Castle
Enchanting Scotney Castle
The delicate wisteria planting creeping amongst the ruined staircase and balcony and tumbling through the derelict windows makes such an enchanting backdrop.
Wisteria creeping over an ancient ruined doorway of Scotney Castle
Creeping wisteria on Scotney Castle

Ensure you stroll around the back of the castle through the open-air ruins to the little courtyard that overlooks the moat. I could sit there for hours admiring the view.

The planting throughout Scotney is so thoughtful that it almost appears effortless. Still, you know hours of work have been invested in accomplishing these delightful little sanctuaries.

Unearthing Scotney quarry

Visiting the historic walled garden
Heading back up towards Scotney House, the grand rhododendron globes are breath-taking and awash with bloom and colour. Don’t forget to keep looking back; the Wealden landscape beyond is magnificent.
A tarmac path leading alongside the grand rhododendrons in bloom in the grounds of Scotney Castle
The grand rhododendrons
Nearing Scotney House, ensure you step down into the old quarry. It is from here that the sandstone was excavated to build the family home. While the quarrying took place, they unearthed fossilised remains from the Wealden seabed. A footprint impression of a 100-million-year-old Iguanodon dinosaur was discovered.
A pathway meandering through the quarry gardens in Scotney Castle
Scotney Quarry
The planting through the quarry is captivating, from the wispy ferns to the vibrant azaleas. It all blends so well with the ancient stone walls and the crimson foliage of the ornamental Japanese acers.
A view over the picturesque gardens full of mixed colours of deep red, vibrant oranges and lush greens at Scotney Castle in Kent
View across Scotney Quarry

The welcoming walled garden was originally built in 1840 to provide fresh produce for the Hussey family.

Unfortunately, it was neglected over the years, and in 2007 the National Trust team restored it back to its former glory.

Two benches on either side a smaller herb garden within the more extensive walled Garden at Scotney Castle in Kent
Walled Garden
A visit to Scotney Castle is always a pleasure; however, in the springtime, it truly blossoms.

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