With beautiful Herculean gardens, gothic turrets and unlimited grandeur - Blair Castle is a must see for anyone visiting Scotland. The castle dates back to 1269 and was built by John I Comyn, Lord of Badenoch. The castle hosts Europe's last remaining private army - the Atholl Highlanders and famous inhabitants and visitors include Mary Queen of Scots, Queen Victoria and Bonnie Prince Charlie. We received an invite to collect from Blair castle's 9 acre walled garden to create a custom range for their gift shop. Here is how it went.
If you plan on visiting Blair Castle in Blair Atholl, I would highly recommend putting aside 2-2.5 hours for your visit, including lunch at their gorgeous castle cafe. You'll have no shortage of things to do and walking shoes are recommended. I would recommend starting with the castle tour followed by visiting the walled garden and then spending an hour or so walking the grounds, spotting wildlife. The castle grounds feature a red deer park, gothic 18th century sculptures, Chinese bridge, a magnificent tour of the 30 rooms available for viewing inside the castle and the gothic Herculean garden filled with fine fruit trees - a horticulturalists dream. That's where we were headed for our task.
We visited just before closing time so as not to disturb the guests of the castle and collected so many wild blooms for their Summer period including strawberry flowers, speedwell, forget me not, wild rose, Himalayan blue poppies (our personal favourite from the grounds), yarrow, Queen Anne's lace, hawthorn blossoms and more. We always aim for a good variety of species and colour for their gift shop customers.
When collecting from such prestigious grounds, it is vital to us to avoid any damage to the plants and ensure growth for the next year. I have developed a unique way of picking the flowers that best suits the plants and avoids any unnecessary length taken from the plant. You can see this in the video below.
We always take our drying kit with us so that as soon as we are finished the collecting task, the flowers are immediately put in for drying to preserve their shape, colour and texture as if if they were still alive. After the drying process, we then use our eco friendly resin to preserve the flowers further. We pride ourselves in our dedicated approach to this and the finished pieces will not only last for generations, but look as though the flowers were still alive. This is of paramount importance to us as we want the flowers to be immediately recognisable. Another key element of this work is ensuring a lightening fast turn around so that the guests who visit the garden first and then the gift shop or vice versa can recognise the flowers they have seen as still in bloom.
Our recommendations for visiting Blair Castle:
Visiting is best in June, July and August mid to late afternoon or as soon as the castle opens. The castle and its grounds are rightfully very busy and you want the best cakes at the cafe - don't you?
Bring a waterproof jacket and some good walking shoes. The weather in Scotland can be unpredictable and you will want to fully explore all the castle has to offer which means a good amount of walking.
Do visit the gift shop and cafe. The gift shop now was an abundant supply of our custom Blair Castle flower jewellery and also stocks a series of its own branded goods which you won't want to miss! The food is also exceptionally good with a warm Highland welcome.
Do visit the inside of the castle, it is not to be missed and boasts 30 rooms for you to see in exquisite grandeur and history.
Blair Castle hosts events at different stages of the year including a Christmas market. I would recommend subscribing to their news letter so you don't miss anything!
With special thanks to the lovely staff at Blair Castle and to the gift shop staff.
Blair Castle website: https://atholl-estates.co.uk/blair-castle/
For booking tickets at Blair Castle: https://atholl-estates.co.uk/book-your-atholl-experience/