Scotland’s Drummond Castle was recently cast in a starring role. Such is its likeness to Versailles, complete with terraces linked by staircases, a magnificent parterre, sculptural topiary, and busts and fountains, that it served as the (smaller) set location for the archetypal French garden in the historical television drama Outlander. The imposing Scottish castle keep and its later chateau-style mansion house preside over a parterre of spectacular proportion. While visitors are struck by the sheer geometry of the plantings and manicured shapes, Drummond is particularly memorable when its grounds are whitened with winter frost.

The formal garden design was devised in the seventeenth century to beautify the fortified stronghold, a sober edifice built in the late 1490s by the first Lord Drummond. Subsequently, the “pleasure” garden rose and fell with political developments and, in times of peace, reflected prevailing fashions in horticulture and landscape design. Over time, the formality became more relaxed and naturalized, with mass plantings of indigenous trees, notably in the mid-eighteenth century, when Capability Brown’s popular designs were adopted. 

But elaborate plans were drawn again for a grand, formal
parterre in the nineteenth century. The residing Clementina Drummond and her husband, Peter Robert Burrell (later Baron Willoughby de Eresby), called for gardens that would be “fit for a queen,” and, indeed, Queen Victoria visited in 1842. To mark the occasion, Her Majesty planted two beech trees. One survives on the grounds, while the other fell victim to a storm in 2012.

This story appeared in the Winter 2022 issue of MILIEU. To read the complete story or to see all photos, visit the MILIEU Newsstand to purchase this issue in print or visit to purchase this issue in digital format.