Picton Castle and Gardens

We are open!

March has been a whirlwind of activity, getting ready to welcome everyone back. We opened our gates again on Wednesday 31st March and we could not have asked for better weather to begin the season. Our gardens are not the same without the sound of children playing or the smell of coffee wafting over the courtyard from Marias and the whole team is thrilled to be operating once again. We have missed seeing our valued season ticket members over the past few months. As a massive thank you for your support during lockdown, we are offering season ticket holders free admission for one friend with each visit to the gardens. This deal also applies to those who purchase a season ticket at the moment so there has never been a better time to become a member! The Gardens are looking magnificent as there are so many wonderful Spring flowers in bloom so make sure you visit us soon to enjoy the delightful daffodils, magnificent magnolias and captivating camellias before they go. Our world famous rhododendrons are also beginning to open; did you know that one of our rhododendrons is thought to be the largest specimen of its kind in Europe?!

If you head down to Peach Woods you will also see that Picton’s magical creatures have been busy painting their doors during lockdown for visitors to find. Will you be able to find every door and answer the questions in the trail during your visit?

The workload for our gardeners has increased over lockdown due to the restoration and expansion of the Walled Garden. We now have even more areas to plant up and a very impressive greenhouse to tend to. Our amazing gardening team have been working flat out to get it all ready. It is truly inspiring how much our small team manages to achieve at Picton; they really are horticultural magicians! Those of you who have turned your hands to your own gardens in lockdown will no doubt appreciate just how much work goes into a garden of this size! We are excited to announce that we will be recruiting two new apprentices to the Picton team this summer. The lucky two will learn from our genius Head Gardener Roddy Milne and study at Coleg Sir Gar for their Royal Horticulture Society Level 2 Certificate in Practical Horticulture. We might be biased, but we think Picton’s historical, unique and diverse gardens offer one of the best (if not the best) settings in the U.K. for any gardener to work. We have already had a lot of interest in these positions with some very impressive CVs and we cannot wait to appoint two new people to our team.

Unfortunately the Welsh Owl Garden and Zoo will have to remain closed until further easing of lockdown restrictions. However our magnificent birds still require their daily exercise so you might be lucky enough to see some of the birds flying around the castle from the lawn if you visit us around lunchtime. Among the spectacular collection of birds we have Moana, an African Fish Eagle who is rather extraordinary. She took to the skies above the castle on Wednesday and showed off her spectacular hunting skills, diving and swooping for chicks. The African Fish Eagle is arguably the most beautiful raptor on earth and is the national symbol of four different African nations. Monana is very impressive indeed with her brown body, striking bald white head and extremely large black wings.  This breed of eagle can have a wingspan of up to 2.4 metres and they have been known to hunt small monkeys and crocodiles in the wild! They are also kleptoparasites, meaning they steal food from other birds too; so hold onto your picnics if you see her in the skies above you!

Talking of picnics, it has been wonderful to see so many visitors enjoying their lunches and afternoon teas on our lawns and picnic benches this week. You are always welcome to bring your own food to Picton but why not try some of Maria’s delicious offerings when you visit? We think there is no better treat than to have a meal prepared for you, especially after lockdown! Maria offers a wide variety of take-away options for all of the family. For an extra special treat Maria can provide a sharing platter picnic box, these can be pre-ordered before you arrive and can include cured meats, cheeses, tortillas, olives, almonds, sun dried tomatoes, salad and bread. Or you could indulge in an afternoon tea for two which includes finger sandwiches, scotch eggs, cakes and scones with jam and cream.  Call 01437 751 351 to arrange. Admission to the gardens is still required to enjoy this luxury within the grounds. The Picnic box is also open on busy days; offering ice creams, snacks and old fashioned sweets.

The team over at the Mansion of Mystery have been extremely busy throughout lockdown building their brand new escape room “Espionage – Final Selection”, due to open on 19th May. Check with their website www.mansionofmystery.com for details on how to book. The Mansion of Mystery are also looking to recruit a new Gamesmaster to their team. If this sounds like the job for you (what a fun job it would be!) then head to their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pictonmystery/ to find out how to apply.

This week we also welcomed our first holiday makers of the year to the Gate House Lodges. They have had a wonderful week of weather and the longer evenings have been such a treat for them to enjoy the grounds to themselves after 5pm each day. We still have dates available in April and May so email info@pictoncastle.co.uk or call 01437 751326 for more information.

Kate Barrett 



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