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Home / Garden Ideas /

Garden Idea: Visit a Garden in Scotland


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Visitors will soon be able to tour beautiful open gardens large and small whilst raising money for charity when over 400 gardens open their gates for Scotland’s Gardens Scheme in its 90th anniversary year.

As Covid restrictions ease over the next two months*, eye-catching gardens of all shapes and sizes across the country are hoping to start opening to the public including 70 opening for the very first time. Horti’ highlights include gardens in the highest village in Lanarkshire, at a lofty 1,500 feet; a tiny ‘jungle’ garden near Ayr; the colourful private gardens at Bonnington House in Edinburgh, surrounded by the award-winning sculpture park Jupiter Artland, and a traditional walled garden, with potager and large greenhouse at Southwick House in Kirkcudbrightshire.

Other highlights will include:

38 village and group openings in many areas of Scotland offering locals a great day out such as Lower Earn Small Gardens Trail in Perth & Kinross, Gattonside Village Gardens in Peeblesshire & Tweeddale, Bridge of Allan Gardens in Stirlingshire, and Smailholm Village Gardens in Roxburghshire.

The Angus & Dundee Garden Trail, running in June, includes 15 mostly private gardens, which have never been open to the public before.

9 allotments, 10 therapeutic, 15 community, and several urban gardens

5 plant sales – Kilmacolm, Huntly, Kirriemuir, Helensburgh and Cupar

For visitors wanting a ‘quiet’ visit , many hidden garden gems are open by ‘arrangement’, just contact the owner in advance.

From large estates to urban wildlife havens, to allotments, contemporary and cottage gardens, to farmhouse gardens, Scotland’s Gardens Scheme has a garden for every interest. Growing conditions widely differ across Scotland with wonderful variations in planting, inspiring visitors with the plant possibilities in a wide range of settings; between Scotland’s coastal gardens and those at higher altitudes, from West Coast Gulf Stream gardens, with their tree ferns and echiums, to woodland and shade gardens where meconopsis and primula flourish. There is something for everyone, and the garden openers are even willing to answer gardening questions.

Scotland’s Gardens Scheme was launched in 1931 to help fund district nurses and since then openings have taken place every year. In a normal year, thanks to 44,000 visitors, around 250 charities benefit from around £250,000 raised from the Scheme’s garden admissions, plant sales and teas.

Liz Stewart, National Organiser at Scotland’s Gardens Scheme, said: “Thanks to garden owners and volunteers rallying together, there is an outstanding collection of beautiful gardens to visit this year, our 90th. Green spaces that will delight the eye and feed the soul, something we all so need at the moment.

“We are incredibly grateful to our gardeners and volunteers, willing to share their gardens, their time and their gardening know-how, making a difference to many charities. Also a huge thank you to Investec for generously sponsoring our annual guidebook again, especially in such a challenging year.”

Other garden gems opening in 2021 include:

2 Durnamuck in Inverness, a coastal plantsman’s garden with a rich mix of herbaceous borders, trees and shrubs, vegetables, drystone wall planting, South African/Mediterranean plants, a wild meadow and stunning views.

Craichlaw in Wigtownshire - Set in extensive grounds with lawns, lochs and woodland. A path around the main loch leads to a water garden returning past a recently planted arboretum in the old walled garden.

Amulree in Wigtownshire, home to two complete plantaholics. Garden contains many unusual plants including a National Plant Collection: Nicotiana species.

Cuthberts Brae in Moray & Nairn, Gardeners’ World Magazine, Readers Garden of the Year 2020 & Judges Choice Winner, the garden is sited on a steep hill with a small flat terrace with gravel garden wrapping around the house. The path then takes you down the bank into a terraced cottage garden that is a magnet for bees, butterflies and other wildlife.

Fehmarn in Perth & Kinross A big 'small garden' with woodland, water, rocks and a cottage garden to the front. Shady and very sunny borders with more trees and lawn to the back. Tucked away, a tiny but productive fruit and vegetable garden. All looked after and loved by two 'oldies', passionate chief gardener, Margaret, and her husband, Iain, head groundsman.

Online tours - It might not be possible for everyone to attend in person and Scotland’s Gardens Scheme’s has got it covered. Its YouTube channel currently hosts 150 videos created by the garden openers themselves, including garden tours, ‘how-to’ videos, and informative talks.

Before setting off to any of the gardens, visitors should check the Scotland’s Gardens Scheme website for details and visitor guidance, as there may be some changes to the published dates, times, and booking limits due to Covid-19 restrictions. (Image: Southwick House)

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