Best Gardens in Scotland
Gardens for Garden Lovers
Royal Botanic Garden
Edinburgh’s prize garden, founded in 1670 and moved to its current site in 1820, features huge trees, rock terraces and borders bursting with colour. The glasshouses are of particular interest, containing everything from hothouse palm trees and gigantic lilies to dwarf cactuses and orchids. Watch out for special events, such as music, theatre and exhibitions of contemporary art.
Dawyck Botanic Garden
Stobo, nr Peebles • (01721) 760254 • Apr–Sep: 10am–6pm daily (to 5pm Mar & Oct, to 4pm Feb & Nov) • Adm
An outpost of Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden, where trees are the speciality. They began planting them here 300 years ago. With its enormous diversity and fine specimens, the garden is ideal for woodland walks. The visitor centre has a café, a shop and exhibitions.
Kailzie, nr Peebles • (01721) 720007 • www.kailziegardens.com • Apr–Oct: 11am–5:30pm daily; Nov–Mar: daylight hours daily • Adm
This formal walled garden is an outstanding example of what was once more common on family estates. Marvellous roses fill the air with fragrance, and there’s a pond stocked with trout for fishing.
Logan Botanic Garden
Port Logan, south of Stranraer • (01776) 860231 • Mid-Mar–Oct: 10am–5pm daily • Adm
The Logan boasts the greatest number of exotic species growing outdoors in Scotland. The southern hemisphere is particularly well represented; the palm trees and gunnera have grown to almost jungle proportions. Apart from the climate, there’s a South Pacific feel to the place. It’s usually much quieter than other gardens, too.
Botanic Gardens, Glasgow
Positively bulging with greenery and colour, Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens are a favourite with locals and visitors alike. The magnificent gardens date from 1817, and are particularly noted for their glasshouses. Foremost among these is the curved iron framework of the restored Kibble Palace. An oasis of palm trees, ferns, orchids, begonias and many exotic species is found inside. Art exhibitions, theatre, festivals and plant shows also take place here (for further details see also Botanic Gardens).
A superb woodland garden with one of the country’s most diverse collections of rhododendrons. Many of the seeds were gathered on private expeditions around the world and some species are now rare. In May the garden bursts into a brilliant mass of blooms
Nr Oban • (0844) 493 2216 • 9:30am–sunset daily • Adm
Overlooking the sea, this garden has another famous rhododendron collection, but also includes exotic blue Tibetan poppies, giant Himalayan lilies and Chatham Island forget-me-nots. Having fallen into disrepair, Arduaine was lovingly and painstakingly restored to glory by two brothers (for further details see also Arduaine Gardens).
The Hydroponicum at Achiltibuie
A totally revolutionary place, the “garden of the future” has no soil but uses a clever water irrigation system to carry nutrients to the plants. Take a tour of the growing houses where they cultivate everything from tropical flowers to bananas. You can buy your own growing kits and fresh seasonal produce (for further details see also The Hydroponicum, Achiltibuie).
At Poolewe in Wester Ross
A west coast phenomenon, these much-vaunted gardens are worth travelling a long way to see. The gardens were nurtured into astonishing fertility in 1862 by Scottish aristocrat Osgood Mackenzie on his 8.5-sq-km (3-sq-mile) estate, and they became his life’s work. Exotic plants, shrubs and trees from all over the world form one of the finest botanical collections in the country, all in a stunning location on Loch Ewe. Website
Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, AB41 7PD
Originally laid out in a Classical French style in 1675 and destroyed by a fire in 1818, Pitmedden was meticulously recreated in the 1950s. The effect is stunning. Within a vast walled area are four elaborate floral parterres, three of which have heraldic designs (for further details see also Pitmedden Garden). Useful website
Drummond Castle Gardens
Near Crieff in Perthshire
Extremely fine formal gardens improved by the backdrop of the castle. Scotland may be largely a wild landscape, but these gardens were attempt to create a formal European style garden of algebraic discipline.