The Duchess of Rothesay joined Scotland’s Gardens to celebrate its 85th anniversary today at a birthday tea party at Winton Castle in East Lothian.

Winton has opened its terraced and walled gardens to visitors under Scotland’s Gardens since 1931, making them the first and longest running gardens to open to the public since the scheme’s inauguration (although some other gardens are not far behind).

The Scottish Renaissance castle has historic royal connections to Henry VIII, Mary Queen of Scots, Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Seton family. Its apt motto is ‘intimacy on a grand scale’.

Winton, home of the Ogilvy family, has been hosting tailored corporate events, weddings, activities and special celebrations since 2000.

“We were delighted to welcome The Duchess of Rothesay to Winton to commemorate the 85th anniversary of the scheme,” says Sir Francis Ogilvy. “Scotland’s Gardens have raised a lot of money for deserving charities, including the Queen’s Nurses’ Benevolent Fund before the NHS existed, and, more recently, Marie Curie.

“The plasterwork in our drawing room ceiling shows a mulberry tree which reflects James VI’s ambition of growing mulberries to breed silk worms to break the Chinese silk monopoly. To commemorate this, we’ve planted a mulberry tree in the terraced gardens today. We’re optimistic that it’ll flourish in the Winton’s warm gardens, even though King James’s ambitious project didn’t work out so well!”

The Duchess of Rothesay’s tour took her through the walled garden and terraced gardens, both sheltered and south-facing.

“There are colour-themed borders, woodland walks for reflection, and mixed, open herbaceous borders,” says Toby Subiotto, Winton’s Head Gardener. “The gardens have been designed for all seasons, with something always in flower.”

In the two acre, walled garden, there is a large, mixed herbaceous border with tender and half-hardy shrubs which flower from mid to late summer: roses, delphiniums, salvias, marguerites, dahlias, nicotine plants, sunflowers, squashes, pumpkins, sweet peas and sub-tropical bedding plants which put on an interesting, colourful display.

Because Winton hosts many weddings, the garden also features a themed wedding border. This provides a perfect backdrop for taking wedding photos with purple, pink and white flowers.

The terraced gardens on the south side of the house overlook Sir David’s Loch. The three terraces are full of colour; there is an old fashioned rose terrace, early tulips and wallflowers, half-hardy impact bedding for summer effect, and salvias and dahlias which last until November. The warm environment means that tender and semi-hardy shrubs flourish, so there are melianthus, ten foot high abutilons, datura, magnificent magnolias, ancient wisterias, gingkos and echiums.

The adjacent woodlands and dell have been planted with rhododendrons, ornamental trees and autumn flowering shrubs for berries and late season colour.