[UPDATE 2 April 2018, there is a cafe near to Culross Palace, please visit my post about the Biscuit Cafe]
I would like to discuss some of the techniques employeed at Culross Palace Gardens. The Gardens form part of the curtilage of Culross Palace which is a 16 century Palace constructed near to the Forth Estuary. The garden employs such techniques such as companion planting, raised beds and seashell pathways.
The gardens are laid-out in a rectilinear pattern, with the paths being about 1m wide and the raised beds being approximately 10m square.
Culross Palace is located next to the River Forth and clams would have been a food source. The clam shells would have been used as a medium for the pathways. Whole clam shells have been put down on the pathway and overtime trodden into a finer shell medium. This pathway is easily weeded by the used of a hoe. It is very attractive and easy to walk on.
Scented Border Plants
Strong smelling plants are positioned along the borders of the raised beds to divert pests such as butterflies from damaging the crops. Strong smelling plants include helichrysum italicum (Curry Plant), lavendar and sage. In addition, both the lavendar and the curry plant flowers do attract pollinators such as bees into the garden, which no doubt improve the yields of crops such as peas and beans.
Nonetheless, netting is still used from some of the more vulnerable crops, such as this cabbage plants. The netting prevents predators such as the cabbage white butterfly laying eggs on the cabbage plants and the subsequent caterpillars munching their way through the crop.
Raised beds have a number of advantages. They define the pathway from the bed and discourage pedestrians and weeds straying into the bed. Secondly, because the beds are raised they receive more sun light and the soil warms-up quicker and this encourages growth. Thirdly, top dressings can be contained more easily within the bed and this is useful if a no-dig approach is used to the gardening.
The raised-beds used at Culross appear to be constructed from scaffolding planks.
Culross Palace Gardens also has its own flock of chickens. The chickens are contained within the orchard which is fenced-off from the rest of the garden. Chickens do eat pests such as slugs and snails and can keep gastropod numbers down. Chickens provide manure which would can be applied to the raised beds as a top dressing. And lastly, they do lay eggs!
The chicken house is made from hurdles with a shingle roof. The chicken house sits on stilts and a flimsy ladder enables the chickens to get to their home but creates more of an obstacle for predators. The front elevation of the chicken house opens like a door, so the gardener can retrieve eggs and muck-out.
The Palace Garden is well worth a visit. I personally would only ask for a Garden Ticket and not bother with going around the Palace itself. The Garden Ticket is around £3 – if you come before 12 noon or in the evening you can get into the garden for free via the side entrance. You can also buy plants and produce at the garden – there is a donation box. For more information about Culross Palace following the link. http://www.nts.org.uk/Property/Royal-Burgh-of-Culross/#