Residents in Scotland’s first retirement village, set on picturesque Royal Deeside, are benefitting from a year-round splash of colour with a £5000 makeover to one of Scotland’s most historic gardens.
Homeowners and residents at Inchmarlo Continuing Care Retirement Community, in Kincardineshire, 18 miles west of Aberdeen, have long been enticed by the stunning Inchmarlo gardens at the heart of the estate, which date back to the 17th century and were a favourite with Queen Victoria.
Now Professor Charles Skene, chairman of the Skene Group which owns the estate, has unveiled plans to introduce an exciting new herbaceous border feature, which will see the gardens in colour all year round.
The concept will see more than 1000 new plants introduced in a unique design formation where all seven colours of the rainbow will be represented by flowers and foliage. And even more spectacular will be that each colour will feature in all four seasons of the year with different plants playing their part at different times throughout the four seasons.
The gardens are renowned across Scotland and even further afield with visitors flocking to visit them every year either as part of Scotland’s Open Gardens Scheme or by special arrangement.
And the latest investment, the largest single investment in the gardens, also coincides with its 50th year of opening to the public as part of Scotland’s Open Gardens Scheme – although they have been enjoyed privately for centuries before that.
In fact, Queen Victoria was such a fan of the gardens that she ordered her coachman to take a route through the grounds every time she made her way to and from nearby Balmoral – hence why the drive through the estate is called Queen’s Drive and the first development of retirement houses for sale is called Queen Victoria Park.
But residents at Inchmarlo, Scotland’s first continuing care retirement community having opened in 1986, can enjoy the gardens every day and the new concept will ensure they see a feast of colour all year round.
Prof Skene, who has commissioned award-winning gardener Billy Carruthers of Binny Plants to design the rainbow garden, said: “One of the reasons we built Inchmarlo back in 1986 was the stunning setting and because it was home to one of the finest gardens in Scotland.
“At the time we knew there was a need for people to be able to live for as long as possible in their homes but there was no-one providing a solution.
“That’s when I came up with the idea for a continuing care retirement community, which was the first of its kind in Britain for more than 100 years. The concept is that people purchase their homes and, over time, as health patterns change can make use of the medical and social support services. In that respect we were ahead of the times by about 10 years or so.
“That independence backed up by support is a real draw to homeowners on the estate but another major reason people want to live here is the incredible setting. In fact, the gardens are one of the main reasons our homeowners choose to move to Inchmarlo.
“The residents love the gardens very much and we also have many visitors throughout the year. There are many walks and paths throughout the estate that showcase the variety of plants and wildlife. We have deer that come in and have all manner of birds. We also have some of the tallest specimens of Scots Pine in Britain.”
The retirement community at Inchmarlo currently consists of 148 properties as well a 60-bed care home in a Grade B listed Georgian mansion house at the centre of the estate, to which homeowners get priority entry if and when required.
The properties are available to anyone over the age of 55 and since its opening 23 years ago it has gained an enviable reputation, ensuring demand for properties is always high. In fact, such is the popularity of the community that many homeowners move to Inchmarlo while still in employment and head off to work every day.
Prof Skene added: “There has always been a strong demand for properties and places at Inchmarlo and it is not difficult to see why.
“Our homeowners have come from all over the world to live at Inchmarlo, in fact we are in discussions with one lady who wants to move here from Bermuda.
“The gardens have long been admired but for the past few years I have been eager to create something different and the rainbow garden is certainly that.
“With many gardens you’ll get them in bloom for only part of the year but I wanted colour on the estate all year round to span the four seasons – whether through flowers, foliage or seed heads.
“It is a hugely demanding brief and one which required a plantsman with extraordinary vision. We know that in Billy Carruthers we have found that person.
“He is a seven-time gold medal winner at the Scottish Gardens Show so there is no-one better placed than him to create this special new garden. I’m very much looking forward to hearing about what the residents and homeowners think of the new garden.”
The gardens will open again under Scotland’s Gardens Scheme on May 24, 2009 when there will be an official unveiling of the new rainbow garden.