This section is from the book "The Gardener V2", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
The seat of the Right Honourable the Earl of Strathmore is situated a little more than one mile from the Glamis Station on the Caledonian Railway, between Perth and Aberdeen. A few minutes' walk brings the visitor to the ancient entrance-gate. On entering the approach, which has a fine curve to the right, I passed through an extensive and richly-wooded plantation. Here I found many specimens of the finest varieties of Pines and other ornamental trees and shrubs studded along its banks, and thriving most luxuriantly. On emerging from this plantation, I also came to a very ancient bridge, which spans the river Dean. On moving a little further on, the visitor passes some old Lime-trees, and, turning to the right into the main approach, which runs nearly a mile in length in a straight line due south, the eye rests on a beautiful and extensive lawn, on which the hereditary and magnificent baronial castle and seat of the Earls of Strathmore stands, interesting on account of the elaborate style of its architecture and the historical associations connected with it.
The visitor should go a few hundred yards south on the main approach, and, looking back, he will then have some idea of the grand proportions of the castle; and should he be fortunate enough to get a peep inside, he will find much to interest him in the internal arrangements, and in many family relics of great antiquity. Glamis Castle bears date a.d. 1080, and was frequently the residence of the Scottish kings. It contains a curious monument of the peril of feudal times, being a secret chamber, the entrance to which, by the law or custom of the family, must only be known to three persons at once - viz., the Earl of Strathmore, his heir-apparent, and any third person whom they may take into their confidence. The immense thickness of the walls shows the extreme antiquity of the building. The great hall in the castle bears the date of 1621, and is a magnificent apartment, with arched ceiling, and contains some exquisitely-carved furniture, and portraits of Charles II. and James VII., etc.; also those of Graham of Claverhouse and the Duke of Lauderdale. A stair of 143 steps leads to the top of the castle, from which the views are both extensive and varied.
Looking westward, at a great distance is seen the beautiful and conical form of Schiehallion (3547 feet high), a mountain which is said to have afforded refuge to King Robert the Bruce after the battle of Methven; to the north the eye takes in the whole range of the Grampian Mountains, and on their southern slope are seen the thriving towns of Blairgowrie, Alyth, and Kirriemuir, Mount Blair, and the beautiful Craigs of Clova; to the east again is seen, about six miles distant, the county town of Forfar; and direct south, about one mile distant, stands the village of Glamis, before the manse door of which there is a large obelisk called King Malcolm's gravestone, and tradition has it that he was buried here. At Glamis Castle (a name known to all readers of 'Macbeth') there is a sun-dial of a very curious character. Four carved stone lions stand on a base, each holding a dial as a shield; the names of the months and days are engraven below. Between and above the lions, in a kind of pyramidal or obelisk arrangement, there are no fewer than eight dial-faces cut diamondwise on the several blocks of stone. Every one of these must have been the work of much calculation, to see that the markings bore a proper relation to the plane of the surface.
Some among them could have only shown a few of the hours just after sunrise or just before sunset on and near the longest day. This dial is in a fine state of preservation, and bears the date of 1621. The Earl of Strathmore is now looked upon as one of our most ardent patrons of horticulture, and a visit to Glamis and its magnificent gardens will be sufficient to convince the most fastidious. His lordship is also a keen arboriculturist, and plants out annually by the hundred thousand. I may mention that Lady Strathmore takes great interest in everything connected with the schools and the education of the young on their vast estates. Lord Strathmore is also a most considerate landlord. In the time of the rinderpest, in no part of Scotland was the disease more prevalent than on his lordship's estates in Forfarshire, and on rent-day he gave to each of his tenants equal to the half of his loss, so that, in many cases, instead of receiving he gave away; and in appreciation of this kindness on the part of his lordship, his tenantry presented him with a beautiful oil-painting of himself.
But as this is more of a horticultural holiday, after viewing the castle we trace our steps towards the garden, which lies about a quarter of a mile to the north-east, and is approached by a private walk, which runs in a straight line till a small stream is reached, crossed by a neat wooden bridge, when the walk curves gently to the left. Here the visitor enters the Pinetum, before describing which I may mention that the park here is upwards of 1000 acres in extent, studded with many beautiful trees of great size, especially oak and ash, many of the trunks being 3 feet in diameter.
The Pinetum is of considerable extent, and most of the kinds planted out are in a healthy condition, although not of any great size as yet. Conspicuously among them I noticed Picea nobilis, Lobbii, Nordmanniana, and magni-fica; Abies Douglassii, Menziesii, Alberta, and Candidissima; Pinus Austriaca also seeming quite at home here.
From the southern end of the Pinetum a fine view of the garden is to be had. Following on the walk above mentioned through the Pinetum the river Dean is crossed by a very handsome bridge, after crossing which the flower-gardens are reached. On either side of the central walk there are two very pretty flower-gardens laid out; to the north of these there is a sloping terrace, and on the top of the terrace there is a walk which runs parallel with the garden wall. From this walk a fine view of the gardens below is obtained, and the tracings of every figure are seen. As the design is a very pretty one, it has a fine effect even in winter. I may mention that the river Dean forms the southern boundary of these gardens, and adds an additional charm to them.