During our visit to Blair Castle in Blair Atholl located 62 miles from Edinburgh, Scotland, we spent an afternoon walking through and enjoying Blair Castle’s Hercules Garden. This beautiful garden, full of statues, ponds, garden walls, hedgerows, and of course plenty of flowering trees, shrubberies, and flower patches, was laid out in the 1700s (the castle itself was built in the late 1200s!), and has been mostly preserved to this day, with few changes. Here’s what you’ll need to know when visiting Blair Castle’s Hercules Garden in Scotland.
Blair Castle Hercules Garden
The price of visiting the gardens can be wrapped into the cost of the ticket to visit the castle itself, and is well worth the few extra pounds for admission. The garden itself is 9 acres and was designed in a Georgian style, which was an English style that emphasized symmetry, balance, and a clear beginning and end of the garden. Nearly all Georgian gardens are enclosed in either boxwood hedges, or ornate stone walls, and Blair Castle Hercules Garden has the latter with hints of the former.
Hercules Garden is named after the life-size statue of Hercules that overlooks the garden. The garden itself has a several decorative landscaped ponds with a Chinese bridge that was brought from Asia in the 1800s, as well as a folly, numerous statues from the 1800s and on, an herb garden, and a hedge row that acts as the garden’s Southern wall, which bloom fully in the summer.
There were lots of little ducklings and swanlings swimming in the ponds, and they were such a joy to watch (I just love birds so much!). We also spotted a baby fox kit running after its mother under a shrub at the edge of the garden, and we saw some deer off in the distance, so there was a substantial amount of wildlife, including numerous birds, in the vicinity, making it a beautiful place to birdwatch or enjoy wildlife from a respectful distance.
We spent about an hour and a half walking through the garden after our walkthrough Blair Castle. It was wonderful to admire the wildlife, and get inspiration for our future garden back in the United States. After visiting Blair Castle Hercules Garden, we visited their gift shop and I picked up a copy of How to Read Gardens: a Crash Course in Garden Appreciation, and it changed the way I looked at not only gardens, but the natural world around me. If you love visiting gardens, enjoy landscaping, and like history, like I do, you’ll love this book! I’ve read it cover to cover three times since I bought it and I’ve learned so much each time.
I think this garden is tied with Kew Royal Botanic Garden in London (the most biodiverse place on Earth), Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, and Seattle‘s Japanese Garden as my favorite gardens I’ve ever visited. If you’re near Blair Atholl, this castle is absolutely worth the detour, and Blair Castle Hercules Garden is worth a trip in and of itself.