Scottish gardens are a sight to behold in spring, says Adrienne Wild
Set in over 500 acres of formal gardens, woodland and rolling countryside, this enchanting 16th-century castle located near Banchory, 15 miles west of Aberdeen, comes with turrets, towers and a remarkably preserved interior. It’s one of our favourite gardens to visit.
However, gardeners will be drawn to its 20th-century Arts and Crafts garden, which includes an arboretum with trees of special interest, ponds and lakes. Its four-acre Walled Garden, originally a kitchen garden, has herbaceous borders that have been planted to provide colour all year round.
There are specimen plants labelled with descriptions, too, so take a notebook to jot down ideas for your own garden and bring your camera. Yew topiary hedges divide the garden into eight themed areas, including a yellow enclosure known as the Golden Garden, a misty blue garden, and a high-summer garden planted with pastel shades that looks stunning in the evening.
Explore sculptured topiary, a grass croquet lawn on a high terrace in the Walled Garden and a traditional glasshouse that houses the National Collection of Dianthus as well.
Info: 0844 493 2166; nts.org.uk/property/crathes-castle-garden-and-estate
Enjoy the spectacular drive through stunning Highland scenery to reach Inverewe, one of Scotland’s best-known gardens to visit.
Combining a walled botanical garden and verdant woodland, it occupies a superb position amid the rugged landscape Wester Ross, which lies on the slopes of a peninsula jutting out into Loch Ewe. In this sheltered, lush oasis, warmed by Atlantic Gulf Stream currents, there are woodland walks, ponds, glades and viewpoints out to magnificent coastal and mountain scenery.
The 54-acre garden features sub-tropical plants from Australia, China, the Himalayas and the temperate regions of South and North America. In the formal area, there is a walled garden where last year the top terrace was rebuilt ready for planting to commence this spring. Ten cultivars of woody peonies have already been planted, with colours ranging from white to red-black.
The magnificent herbaceous borders are a riot of colour from April through to late autumn. In spring, Inverewe is especially celebrated for its collection of Himalayan rhododendrons, and at this time of year visitors will be wowed by the alpine collections in a rockery set against lush lawns.
There are also wild areas where you can see butterflies and wild flowers.
Info: 0844 493 2225; nts.org.uk/property/inverewe-garden-and-estate
No visit north of the border would be complete without going to Edinburgh and its Royal Botanic Garden, located just one mile from the city.
This beautiful landscaped garden, covering over 70 acres, is famous in spring for its collection of rhododendrons and azaleas, magnolias, and Himalayan poppies (mecanopsis), as well as the Rock Garden, home to over 5,000 alpine plants, and the Scottish Heath Garden.
The Glasshouses are home to 10 different climate zones and have everything from amazing orchids, tropical vines and tree ferns to plants from the world’s desert regions. And be sure to have your camera ready to photograph the iconic Victorian Temperate Palm House, which is the tallest of its kind in Britain.
A visit to the Royal Botanic Garden will no doubt spur your enthusiasm to visit some or all of its satellite gardens: find Logan in the mild climate of the south-western tip of Scotland; Dawyck, one of the world’s finest arboretums, is in the Scottish border town of Stobo, near Peebles; and Benmore sits in its majestic mountainside setting on the Cowal Peninsula in Argyll. Together, these four botanic gardens hold the largest collections of Chinese plants and the second largest collection of plants in the world.
Info: 0131 248 2909; rbge.org.uk
Internationally renowned for its collection of rhododendron species, Arduaine also has magnolias, camellias and many other rarely seen trees and shrubs. No wonder it’s a Mecca for gardeners the world over, from April to June.
Located behind a shelterbelt on the coast, south of Oban, in Argyll, this 20-acre formal and woodland garden, created more than a century ago, features ferns, bamboos and a large collection of unusual East Asian and South American herbaceous perennials.
You will also find fragrant rhododendrons, beautiful blue Tibetan poppies, giant Himalayan lilies and Chatham Island forget-me-nots. Two marked trails take visitors along paths with amazing views and past huge ornamental trees.Along the routes are numerous small ponds and watercourses, where water lilies, primulas and other lovely marginal plants grow.
The garden also attracts an abundance of wildlife including red squirrels.
Info: 0844 493 2216; nts.org.uk/property/arduaine-garden