In 1773 the 23rd Chief’s mother complained to Doctor Johnson and Boswell that “there was not and never could be a good garden at Dunvegan.” Her prediction was not correct and despite some stops and starts over the following centuries, it has evolved into one of the most important gardens in the Highlands.

When Hugh MacLeod assumed responsibility for the castle gardens in 2008, he did not know much about plants or flowers but he did have an appreciation of gardens and their design. Hugh’s interest in landscaping and sight lines derive from his passion for film and photography. Working in collaboration with David MacLean (Head Gardener) and Hamish Horsley (Sculptor), the team drew up plans to improve the design and general layout of the Water, Rose and Walled gardens along with new paths in all areas of the garden policies. The scope of works ranged from removing some poor design features and replacing them with ornaments, herbaceous borders, paths and a design aesthetic which more faithfully reflects what is essentially an early 18th century garden with some formal French influences. The aim was to make the new water lily pond, Glass House, Garden Museum, Regency Urn, Water Garden bridges, the Memorial Gazebo, a 2.7 tonne giant rotating Carrara marble sculpture and other new design elements blend in seamlessly and feel like they had always been there. Like any organic entity however, no garden should ever stand still and Hugh and his team of dedicated gardeners are constantly looking at new ways to develop the gardens.

If you would like to contribute to our ongoing mission to build on the castle garden’s unique horticultural legacy, please join our Friends of Dunvegan membership scheme and/or you can make a donation to the following dedicated estate account:

Account name: MacLeod Estate Restoration
Account Number: 00311874
Sort Code: 60-93-03
IBAN: GB19 WBYS 6093 0300 3118 74

All donations, however large or small, will be gratefully received because maintaining a formal garden of this size in Skye’s unforgiving climate does cost a small fortune. Thank you for your support.