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Wood carvings being added to the Brodie Castle estate between now and the New Year


By Garry McCartney

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First gardener Jonathan Barton at work on a wood sculpture.
First gardener Jonathan Barton at work on a wood sculpture.

IF you go down to the woods today, you're in for a big surprise ... thanks to a gardener's special talent.

Wood carvings are appearing up all over the shrubbery at Brodie Castle, created by the estate's first gardener, Jonathan Barton.

He said: "I’ve used a selection of chainsaws, some of which have a special narrow radius bar that allows me to carve detail. To add details and refine them can take an hour or two depending on the type of wood and the piece being created.

"Generally, I have an idea of what I’m going to carve and can picture it in the wood but other times I let the piece of wood guide me to an abstract shape."

The shrubbery area already has a variety of trees, shrubs, and flowers that change across the seasons. It was originally planted to screen the working areas of the grounds - such as the Walled Garden and Bothy - from the castle, and was a formal area in the mid-19th century but by the early 20th became an informal mix of plants.

These days, from February to June, Spring bulbs carpet the ground and over the summer native wild flowers and meadow grass fill the gaps between specimen trees and shrubs.

September sees the cutting and removal of the meadow grasses and flowers to help maintain a diverse mix of flowers and grass. It also clears the area for emerging Colchicums which put on the last big flowering display of the year.

In October, there is a lull before the leaves turn and add another splash of colour, so popping up every week until January will be Mr Barton's carvings, including a half-term special.

Most of them will be abstract as he feels this fits with the naturalistic surroundings and allows people to interpret them as they wish.

All of the carvings are created from estate-grown soft and hard wood from wind damaged trees and areas of woodland management.

Once the first bulbs start to emerge in the new year they will be relocated around the estate. Some may be used as features in the gardens but most will be placed in the wooded areas such as around the stone paths and the pond where they will be left to decay to host animals and inveterate life.

Visitors to the Brodie estate are invited to amble through the shrubbery and see the carvings, including through the Dragon’s Egg Trail that has been carved for the October holidays.

Dragon's eggs have been discovered around Brodie Castle's shrubbery.
Dragon's eggs have been discovered around Brodie Castle's shrubbery.


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