Blog by Alexa Martin, October 2017.
In 2016 I was asked to join the Carse of Gowrie Sustainability Group, a group that I didn’t know much about but as a local who had a degree in Geography and studying a masters in Spatial Planning, it sounded like a group I should have been a part of, and so I said yes. I had no idea that I had signed up to be part of such a dedicated and ambitious group. I also had no idea I would learn so much about a Carse man Patrick Matthew, more about him here. At the time of me joining the group they had been working hard to secure Heritage Lottery funding to plan an event to celebrate the life of Patrick Matthew. This celebratory event is what led me to be standing in the grounds of Megginch Castle on a drizzly Sunday in October 2017 clad in wellies and waterproofs guiding members of the public and descendants of Patrick Matthew around the stunning castle grounds.
With the Heritage Lottery Funding we had been able to plan and deliver the Patrick Matthew Memorial Weekend which saw a whole host of events taking place across the Carse. If you missed it you can see what we got up to here and if you would like to learn more about Patrick Matthew you can follow our trail around the Carse.
Since 1661, Megginch has been home to the Drummond family whom Patrick Matthew enjoyed a close relationship with. Matthew was a contemporary of John Murray Drummond (1803-1889) and they were friends and neighbours with common interests in forestry and orchards and so by holding one of the Patrick Matthew Festival events at Megginch we could walk in Matthew’s footsteps in the wooded castle grounds and the ancient orchard.
Megginch is home to seven of the Carse’s Giant Redwood trees which are two of the first to be grown and planted from seed in Britain. Planted in 1853 they really are now giant! As the star attraction, they were the first stop on the guided tour and were a big hit with those who joined us. The Drummond family are keen to carry on the connection between Megginch and Patrick Matthew, so earlier this summer, with the help of the Junior Carsonians, a ‘baby’ Redwood was planted in the grounds of Megginch. This will continue the legacy of Patrick Matthew and also gives new generations the opportunity to experience first-hand the skills that are required to grow one of these magnificent trees.
Particularly pleased to see the Megginch Redwoods and the newly planted Redwood sapling were the descendants of Patrick Matthew who had travelled from Germany, the Netherlands and America to celebrate his life. It was wonderful to witness the pleasure they all got from seeing the results of Matthews pioneering work and to see how thrilled they were to see that his legacy was being continued with the propagating and planting of new Redwoods in the Carse.
Patrick Matthews influence at Megginch didn’t stop with the Redwoods though so the next stop on the tour was the Castle Orchard. The orchard is home to over 380 cider apple varieties and 40 Scottish apple and pear varieties. October was the perfect time to visit as we could sample some of the bountiful crop of delicious apples and pears! Everyone was particularly keen to try the Bloody Ploughman. This is a Scottish variety which Catherine Drummond-Herdman told us is so called as it arose as a seedling near the grave of a ploughman who had been shot by a gamekeeper for stealing apples. A delicious apple with knobbly skin and white flesh with red staining throughout.
After a wonderful morning spent learning and exploring it was time to continue the festivities in another of the Carse’s wonderful locations, Errol Park estate where lucky festival participants were treated to an afternoon tea after a tour of the estates Redwoods. The Megginch event was a highlight of the weekend for me but the whole weekend was a wonderful celebration of Patrick Matthew that was enjoyed by everyone involved.