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WWW.NTS.ORG.UKWe had a wonderfully informative and insightful tourand she was full of stories of the family and the history ofthe house. As we were saying our goodbyes Mr TamDalyell arrived at the door and said hello to my wife andmyself. He then turned to our "guide" and said "Hellomum, showing people around the house, I see". Thephotograph of the house that you used showed awonderful display of daffodils, so we decided to revisitthe house to see this year's display. We wandered roundthe garden enjoying the flowers and the views, thenheaded back to the car park. Just as we passed the frontof the house, we noticed Mr Dalyell sitting there. Wesaid hello and Tam asked us to join him in a soft drink. Itold him the story of our first visit and he was quiteamused by it. We chatted for a while, then said goodbye.What a gentleman he is, and what a privilege to be ableto visit this Trust property, which is still a family home. Tom Johnstonby emailWonderful weekendI would like to draw to readers' attention the excellentservice provided by all members of staff at theEisenhower Apartments in Culzean Castle and to thankthem sincerely. My son, daughter, son-in-law andgrandchildren had secretly arranged for my wife and I tostay overnight at the apartments to celebrate my 60thbirthday in April. As a family, we have for many yearsbeen members of the Trust and Culzean was a regularouting for us. In recent years, I have been unwell andeight months ago, was retired because of ill-health. I hadbeen in regular employment since I left school aged 16,so to suddenly find myself "retired" has been a changethat I have struggled to get accustomed to. Although Ihave tried to appear cheerful, inwardly I have been lowin spirit. My birthday weekend changed that state ofmind in a remarkable way and had a most positive effectupon my wellbeing. I have to thank the generosity andforesight of my loving family. But I also must make youaware of the kindness and cheerfulness of your staff. Weenjoyed the most comfortable, luxurious accommodationwe have experienced. The food and waiting service wereexcellent. Staff made us feel at ease in surroundings of astandard to which we were unaccustomed and, at first,found a bit daunting. Thank you one and all.Andrew Bainby emailIn our spring issue, we mistakenly referred to the Trust'sSchool of Heritage Gardening by its former name, theCentre for Excellence in Heritage Horticulture. Weapologise for any confusion.

18SUMMER 2012PEOPLEPITMEDDENGARDENBEDDING plants are hard work, as backachesufferers will testify. But when you have 30,000 ofthem, to grow from seed, prick out, bring on andplant, it becomes a massive undertaking. Yet that's the annual challenge for the small teamat Pitmedden Garden, led by property manager andhead gardener Susan Burgess. She says: "We couldnever manage without our volunteers, who comeback year after year and help in all sorts of ways."Susan, who came to Pitmedden in 1994, says thegarden is a special one. "It's a property with a realwow factor. A lot of tender loving care goes intokeeping the formal beds sharp and tidy. It's at itscolourful best in July, August and September, andmy favourite time here is towards the end ofsummer, when the light is softer."As well as the regular dozen or so volunteers,Thistle Camp parties come to help, some to work onthe 100 acres of woodland, digging ditches, fellingtrees and maintaining paths, and some to helpprepare for Apple Sunday, the last Sunday inSeptember. This is when the apples and pears grownon espalier-trained trees on the granite walls of thegarden are sold, so they must be picked and sorted.That event, a fixture in the Aberdeenshirecalendar, has grown, with food producers bringinggoods to sell, farmers' market style. This year therewill be music from members of the Ugie folk club,the Aberdeen Gaelic Choir and the Ythan Fiddlers.There's more in the offing, including concerts,guided walks, outdoor theatre and an art exhibition.Two beehives are to be installed, there are plans formore fruit trees and home-grown produce, and apolytunnel is making it easier to produce all thosebedding plants. The tearoom has been refurbished,the conservatory rebuilt to form a dramatic entrance,and the Museum of Farming Life has addedatmosphere, with ambient sounds of wood-turningand a blacksmith at work. This year is Pitmedden's Diamond Jubilee -it hasbeen in the Trust's care for 60 years. And while thishistoric garden remains true to its 17th-centurytraditions, there is change afoot - all for the better. Photography:Derek Ironside .Interview:Don Currie.DiscoverPitmedden GardenEllon, Aberdeenshire AB41 7PDTel: 0844 493 2177 Estate All yearMTWTFSSGarden, Museum of Farming Life, Shop and Tearoom 1 May to 30 Sep 10-5.30 MTWTFSS(last entry 5pm)