The Hit Squad were responsible for this garden. They built it back in 1996 when the Beechgrove first moved from the garden in Aberdeen city centre to the current site. The theme was inspired by the nursery rhyme:
There was a crooked man
Who walked a crooked mile
He found a crooked sixpence
Upon a crooked stile
He bought a crooked cat
Who caught a crooked mouse
And they all lived together
In a little crooked house
This resulted in a garden with a crooked path, a crooked wall, a crooked stile, plenty of crooked or contorted plants, a crooked cat and a crooked old man. All of the plants originally grown in this garden also have contorted leaves or stems and the crooked man and his cat were built by Davy Beaton from Balerno.
The real stunners all these years later are the two contorted hazels that have reached about 7' in height and look great in springtime, covered in catkins. The crooked man is still there and he's had some adventures too - he went down to Gardening Scotland in 2004 to be one of the features of our show garden which celebrated Beechgrove's 25th anniversary.
The Crooked Garden was built in two halves, divided by the crooked wall, and as time has gone on and the plants have matured, the back half has become a little woodland garden. Shaded by the stunning southern beech (Nothofagus antartica) it is now home to a range of trillium, pulmonaria and sanguinaria planted by Carole and Lesley over the past few of years. These plants thrive in the shade and cool and for an all too brief period in spring really light up the bare ground beneath the trees and shrubs in this garden. The front half has crooked shrubs in it too, as well as some space for seasonal bedding which really helps to brighten up the rest of the garden.
The crooked plants tend to be very architectural. Some of our favourites include:
Euonymus alatus - the corky wings that grow along each stem add winter interest to this deciduous shrub. It's got tiny, delicate flowers in the spring and brilliant red autumn colour.
Contorted hazel - we've got two by the entrance to the Crooked Garden and they make a really stunning show in the spring when the catkins are dangling from the curly stems. The stems are also great to use in winter flower arrangements.
Nothofagus antartica - the southern beech is a lovely small tree. The grey bark is covered in little white specks and the branching structure is very fine on the younger branches. The small leaves cast dappled shade and turn golden in the autumn.
Corkscrew willow - similar to the contorted hazel, this plant also has curly stems. It's at its best in the wintertime when the bark glows in the low winter sun.