If you enjoy visiting gardens, or seek inspiration for your own, then Scotland’s Gardens should be on your radar. Established as a charitable trust in 1931, SG facilitates the opening of gardens big and small, stately and domestic.
The garden open season is just getting underway so grab yourself a copy of the Scotland’s Gardens Guide Book or visit the website to plan your visits.
We’ve picked our highlights for Spring across the length and breadth of the country.
Rocheid Garden, Inverleith, Edinburgh
Rocheid House is a private house and garden, home to Anna Guest, who has in recent years created a wonderful, densely planted garden in the heart of the city. It is a recent addition to the open gardens scheme and Paddy Scott, of Scotland’s Garden commends it as one of the programme highlights.
This is a garden with refined and eclectic taste; the planting is rich, complex and highly textured, a truly lush and ambitious garden. The composting shed is worth a visit in itself, on first sight the wildflowers growing on the little hillock appear to disguise an old Anderson Shelter but on closer inspection it is revealed as a sinuous wave of ribbed weathered steel that houses the composting shed. A marvelous piece of design by Groves-Raines Architects that won the Chairman’s Prize at the Scottish Design Awards.
Good to know: Rocheid House is named for the colourful Rocheid family who owned the Estate of Inverleith. In 1823 the family gifted 11.5 acres of their lands for the creation of the Royal Botanic Gardens and the new site was opened in 1824.
Opening only as part of Scotland’s Gardens Scheme: Saturday 18 May 2:00pm – 6:00pm Saturday 15 June 2:00pm – 6:00pm Saturday 7 September 2:00pm – 6:00pm
Beneficiaries: The Safe Garden at Ferryfield Nursing Home receives 40%, the net remaining to SG Beneficiaries.
Attadale Gardens, Wester Ross
Attadale is one of Scotland’s finest gardens, a private home on the shores of Loch Carron it is surrounded by tall, sheltering mountains. The warming currents of the Gulf Stream benefit the gardens and the many rare and unusual plants that thrive in its microclimate.
Warming dry stone walls and the wild beauty of Rosa Rugosa surrounds the Sunken Garden, in spring flowering bulbs dominate and in summer hardy perennials fill the borders. It is home to a magnificent giant sundial, 35 feet, by Italian born, Edinburgh based Sculptress, Graciela Ainsworth.
The geodesic dome houses an outstanding collection of ferns, Scotland’s finest, the old woods boast towering Californian Redwoods and as you would expect in a West Coast garden, acid loving rhododendrons and azaleas flower with camp abandon in the months of spring.
Good to know: A waterfall has been added to the wonderful water garden, bog loving plants and succulent green lilies live in delighted watery harmony with the collection of naturalistically inspired bronze sculptures that dot the waters edge. Tearoom and plant sales.
Scotland’s Gardens Scheme Opening: Thursday 28 March to Thursday 31 October 10:00am – 5:30pm, except Sundays.
Beneficiaries: Howard Doris Centre Lochcarron/Highland Hospice receives 40%, the net remaining to SG Beneficiaries.
Kailzie Gardens, Peebleshire
Located just a couple of miles from Peebles, Kailzie Gardens are open year round. The Wild Garden is at it’s glorious best during Spring and should be hitting it’s stride just about now, later than usual but filled with naturalized daffodils followed by carpets of bluebells.
Even if the weather is against you there are treats in the wonderful glasshouses. In spring the delicious scent of a deeply romantic old wisteria fills the space and geraniums, begonias, schizanthus, pelargoniums and fuchsias flower with abandon.
Good to know: The Walled Garden is home to a superb collection of old roses including many headily scented Gallicas, robust Albas and prolific ramblers. If you’re considering planting roses make a repeat visit to Kailzie in June and drink deep on inspiration.
Opening: End of March to end of October, Walled and Wild Gardens, Woodland Walks, 11a.m. – 5.30p.m.
Scotland’s Gardens Scheme: Sunday 3 March 2:00pm – 4:00pm
Beneficiaries: Erskine Hospital receives 40%, the net remaining to SG Beneficiaries.
Portrack House, Dumfriesshire
The landscape and gardens surrounding Portrack House have been moulded to the exacting creative will of design genius Charles Jencks. Jencks’ late wife Maggie Keswick, after whom the Maggie’s Centres are named, inherited the house and grounds and together they began the ambitious landform and art project that Jencks continues to this day.
Portrack House is home to the famous Garden of Cosmic Speculation as well as the more subdued but no less cerebral Kitchen Garden of the Six Senses, the Universe Cascade and the Rail Garden of Scottish Worthies.
Good to know: Portrack House is likely to provoke a reaction even if you don’t have an understanding of the finer principles of DNA and it’s entirely possible to appreciate the gardens without recourse to the deeper dialogue.
Opening only as part of Scotland’s Gardens Scheme: Sunday 5 May 12:00pm – 5:00pm
Beneficiaries: Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres receives 40%, the net remaining to SG Beneficiaries.
Dating from 1850, Glenarn is a private garden that has been maintained throughout this period and preserves a magnificent collection of rhododendrons. In spring stunning Asiatic magnolias boast their splendid exotic blooms and primulas flower in the extensive rock gardens against the backdrop of Gareloch.
At 10 acres Glenarn is a large garden and it’s easy to get pleasantly lost in the winding paths among the oaks and limes.
Good to know: There is an onsite nursery selling plants.
Opening: Saturday 23 March to Saturday 21 September Dawn – Dusk
Scotland’s Gardens Scheme: Donations to SG beneficiaries throughout the season.
Note on charities:
There is a small charge for entry to the gardens with proceeds to Scotland’s Garden beneficiaries: Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres, The Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland, The Garden Funds of the National Trust for Scotland, Perennial; and the opening garden’s own beneficiaries.