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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)

WWW.NTS.ORG.UK19Beechgrove Cottage at Pitmedden is atwo-bedroom holiday cottage sleepingfour, with its own secluded garden. Findout more on www.nts.org.uk/holidaysFor more information on Pitmedden, seewww.tinyurl.com/ntspitmeddenPicture shows the Pitmedden team, fromleft: Brona Keenan, Norma Maine, SaliKindley, Hamish McDonald, Megan Adie,Kirsty Johnstone, Angie Stemp, SusanBurgess, Carole Hawthorn, MeganWebster, Kim Hay, Helena Sinclair, WilmaSummers and Adrian Banks