Add colour and beauty to your holiday by exploring the great gardens of Scotland.
Scottish gardens are renowned for their lushness and their fantastic variety of planting. It was in the Victorian era that intrepid plant hunters visited unexplored regions of the world, such as China, Japan and the Himalayas and brought back seeds, cuttings and specimens of plants which were previously unknown in Britain. These adventurous and daring men are remembered through the many plant species which bear their names: Forrest, Douglas, Fortune, Menzies, Wilson etc.
Wealthy patrons were desperate to be the first to grow the new species in their private gardens, often around castles and mansions. Today many of these spectacular gardens are open to visitors who come to admire and enjoy, not just the plants themselves, but also the skill in creating and caring for these beautiful gardens.
On the west coast, the Gulf Stream brings warm, moist currents of air which maintains a largely frost-free climate. This has enabled the growth of exotic plant species - even palm trees - and rhododendrons and azaleas which particularly thrive in these conditions. However, shelter belts of trees have had to be grown to give protection from strong winds. In the east, the cooler climate favours hardier plants and more native species.
All of our recommended B&Bs have gardens or outdoor seating for you to enjoy
Scotland’s Garden Scheme is a registered charity, originally created in 1931 and organises the opening of large and small gardens of horticultural interest throughout the country to visitors. The gardens that open for the SGS include some of Scotland’s finest and are mostly privately owned and so are normally inaccessible to visitors at other times. Ask your bed and breakfast host for details of local gardens that may be open on selected days, usually during the spring and summer.
Enjoy your visit!
Add colour and beauty to your holiday by exploring the great gardens of Scotland.
Near Kyle of Lochalsh - a National Trust for Scotland estate. Lots of walks through ancient woodland and wild countryside. Abundant wildlife and spectacular scenery.
At Balmacara. Rhododendron, fuchsias, hydrangeas and ferns. Open all year 9am to sunset. Admission charge.
Little Leckmelm, Lochbroom, near Ullapool . A woodland garden planted in 1870 and restored in 1984. Open April to September. Daily 10am to 6pm.
Famous National Trust for Scotland estate between Ullapool and Gairloch. Spectacular garden with fabulous rhododendrons and azaleas in May, plus tree ferns, Himalayan poppies, herbaceous borders, eucalyptus, gunnera, primulas, walled garden and rockeries. Year round colour and interest. Open daily all year. Admission charge. Free guided garden walks weekdays May to September. Café and shop (open March - October).
Strathcarron, Wester-Ross, on A890 road between Strathcarron and South Strome. Privately owned garden and house, near the shores of Loch Carron, cradled by mountains. A style that allows the garden to blend seamlessly from the planned planted areas into the wilderness that surrounds it. Open 10am - 5.30pm April - October (closed Sundays). Admission charge.
Isle of Skye. 40 acre woodland garden set around the ruins of Armadale Castle. Museum and gift shop. Open daily 30 March - 31st Oct. 9.30am - 5.30pm. Admission charge
See plants growing without soil. Open Monday to Friday from 11am - 1pm, and 2pm - 4pm. Small admission charge.
Golspie. Formal parterre gardens laid out in 1850 below the castle. The gardens are open all year round and entry is free of charge when the castle is closed.
A82 Loch Ness side. Open: February - November 9am - 7pm or dusk if earlier. Admission: Nursery free, gardens small donation for charity.
Bught Lane, Inverness. Mixed floral displays including cactus house. Open daily 10am - 4pm (winter) / 5pm (summer). Free admission.
Near Nairn. Mixture of formal gardens and parkland, including maze. Open daily from May to early October from 10.00 am - 5.30 pm. Admission charge.
Near Aviemore. Nursery garden with unusual alpine plants for sale. Watch the birds and red squirrels feeding while you enjoy cream cakes in the tearoom. Open March to October, 10am - 5.00pm, other times by appointment.
King Street, Elgin (around the corner from the entrance to the Cathedral). The only garden of its type in Scotland. Open daily May to September, between 10.00 am and 7.30pm. Free admission.
Scottish Home to the Royal Family. Wander through the large kitchen garden, enjoy the views from the fountain area and admire the impressive rose garden. Riverside paths by the Dee. Short Ranger led walks. Open daily 10am to 5pm from end March to end July.
Near Banchory. Castle with spectacular gardens featuring herbaceous borders in garden "rooms" and unusual topiary. Garden and grounds open all year daily.
Near Ellon - The heart of the property is the formal walled garden originally laid out in 1675 by Sir Alexander Seton. In the 1950s, the Trust set about re-creating the gardens following designs dating from the 17th century. Today, Pitmedden features over 5 miles of box hedging arranged in intricate patterns to form six parterres. Grounds open daily all year. National Trust for Scotland.
Near Alford. A gem set in the small glen beside Kildrummy Castle. Rare arctic and rock plants. Licensed for marriages. Open April to October. Admission charge.
Near Banchory. (National Trust for Scotland). The original 13th century keep has an adjoining Jacobean mansion house and additions made by Victorian lairds. There are woodland trails and a garden of historic roses in the grounds. Grounds open daily all year.
House of Pitmuies, Guthrie, Forfar, Angus. Two walled gardens adjoining an 18th century house, sheltering long mixed flower borders, superb delphiniums and old fashioned roses. Spacious lawns, woodland, river and lochside walks. Open April - October daily 10am - 5pm. Admission charge.
Dundee. 21 acres of trees, shrubs and plants collected world-wide. Tropical temperate plant houses with fruits, flowers and giant Victoria water lily. Coffee shop, plant and gift sales. Disabled facilities. Open March - October (daily 10am - 4.30pm); November - February (daily 10am - 3.30pm). Admission charge.
Near Forfar. A mile of daffodils in Springtime. Superb displays of rhododendrons and azaleas in summer. Colourful autumn trees. Nature Trail and Pinetum providing a haven for wildlife. Open daily from April - November. Admission charge.
Dundee's largest public park consists of 395 acres of beautiful parkland containing many rare trees, 18 hole golf course, horse riding, tennis and award-winning adventure playground. Open all year and free.
Dundee. Parkland surrounding 24 acres of water. Facilities include visitors centre, play area, picnic areas, woodland walks. During the summer months a variety of water sports are available. Park & woodland open at all times.
Dundee. Delightful rock garden containing plants and flowers from all over the world. Water feature including a tadpole friendly pond. Woodland walk and fine trees. Open all year and free.
The Perthshire Gardens Collection - 11 gardens which can all be visited using an excellent value 14 day pass.
Muthill, Crieff. One of the finest formal gardens in Europe, first laid out in the early 17th century. Gardens open at Easter, then from May to October 1pm - 6pm. Admission charge. Note: the castle itself is not open to the public.
By Dunkeld (National Trust for Scotland). Once part of one of the most important 18th century picturesque landscapes in Scotland. An attractive woodland walk leads though spectacularly large Douglas firs to the amazing folly, Ossian's Hall overlooking the Black Linn waterfall. A famous Douglas fir is one of the tallest trees in Britain. Open daily all year. Free admission.
Errol. 7 miles from Perth and 8 miles from Dundee. A 15th century castle, altered by Robert Adam in 1790, with a 19th century garden. Ancient yews, topiary, an astrological garden, a fountain parterre, a courtyard with a dovecote and a walled garden with a long herbaceous border. Open daily April to October 2pm to 5.30pm. Admission charge.
(National Trust for Scotland). Lush coastal gardens by Kilmelford. Open all year, 9.30am-Sunset.
Ardanaiseig Garden - Vegetable garden and large herbaceous border. Woodland walks with flowering trees and shrubs. Located at Ardanaiseig Hotel, Kilchrenan by Taynuilt.
Spectacular display of rhododendrons and one of Britain's finest collections of trees. At Cairndow overlooking Loch Fyne. Open: Daylight hours all year round.
Near Inveraray, Argyll (National trust for Scotland). Eleven miles south of Inveraray on the A83 road to Lochgilphead. Rare trees and exotic shrubs from around the world thrive in the mild climate and the magnificent setting of the Highland glen, making Crarae unique among gardens. 400 rhododendrons and azaleas. Gardens open all year round (summer: 9am - 6pm / winter: dawn to dusk).
13th Century ruins with wonderful gardens on the north shore of Loch Etive, not far from Oban. Open April - October.
5 miles east of the Forth Bridges. The 13th century fortified residence of Aberdour has a delightful walled garden and terraces with beehive-shaped doocot. Admission charge.
Near Cupar. (National Trust for Scotland). The magnificent Royal Palace was the country residence of Stuart monarchs. Surrounded by fine gardens it has the oldest Royal Tennis Court in Britain still in use. Plant sales & gift shop.
Saline, Fife. A 2-acre garden, woodland walk through 20 acres of naturally regenerating Scottish Native Woodland, which has been designated a SINC (Site of Importance for Nature Conservation), and a small nursery - all plants are grown on site. Open April to September, every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 2:30pm to 5:00pm.
Canongate, St Andrews. Internationally recognised Botanical Garden covering 7 hectares. An extensive range of rare and beautiful plants displayed under glass and outside. Open all year. Admission charge.
Kingsbarns, by St Andrews. Romantic 'Secret Garden' around Cambo burn. It holds the national collection of snowdrops which carpet the 70 acres of woodlands in February/March. All seasons plantsman's paradise. Woodland walks to the shore. Open all year 10am-5pm. Admission charge.
(National Trust for Scotland). Balerno, 8 miles south east of Edinburgh. Much appreciated for its atmosphere of peace and tranquillity. Renowned for its flamboyant plantings of old-fashioned roses (for which Malleny holds a prestigious NCCPG award) and colourful herbaceous perennials. This 3-acre walled garden is dominated by four magnificent clipped yew trees dating from the 17th century. You can also enjoy the vegetable and herb garden, the Victorian greenhouse and the surrounding area of woodland which adds to the aura of shelter and seclusion. Open daily all year.
1 mile from Princes Street. Over 28 hectares of beautifully landscaped grounds. World-famous Rock Garden; 11 unique glasshouses including Britain's tallest Palm House; Tranquil Chinese Hillside complete with wild water ravine. Open daily (excluding 25 December & 1 January) from 10am, closing: 4pm November - February, 6pm March, 7pm April - September and 6pm October. Admission to the Garden is free. Admission charge for entry to the glasshouses. Shop and Café.
In the village of Haddington you can find the beautiful Haddington House with its stunning Jacobean inspired garden. The Trust has gone to great efforts to cultivate plants that would have been typical of the time and planted in the styles that were fashionable. But most stunning of all is the flowering Laburnum which can be seen at its best in June, which is the only time it is open to the public.
In the nation’s capital, in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle, can be found probably the most visited garden in Scotland, Princes Street Gardens. This public park has become a firm favourite with the workers of Edinburgh, as well as the many tourists who use it as a foreground for the millions of pictures of Edinburgh Castle. With the Scott Monument in the East Gardens, the Ross Fountain in the West Gardens and the ever so photogenic Gardeners Cottage, it really is the Victorians at their most ostentatious.
Park and botanic gardens famous for its great conservatory erected by John Kibble. The current site of the conservatory is its third home, finally being re-opened to the public in 2006. Tea room and glasshouses. Open all year daily, 7am - dusk. Free admission.
5 star heritage centre near Hamilton, offering guided tours of the 18th century hunting lodge, nature trails, scenic riverside walks, adventure play ground, picnic facilities, cafe & gift shop.
Near Airth, is a folly built in 1761 in the shape of a pineapple. Walled garden with extensive glasshouses, pineapple pits and woodland walks. An all-ability path leads from the car park to a pond viewing platform. National Trust for Scotland.
On the south side of Glagsow can be found Greenbank Garden, described as a ‘celebration of the gardener’s art’. It is very much a garden for gardeners, as it has an educational element which seeks to show visitors how to grow more unusual plants, some of which would usually only be available to the trade. Open all year.
On the eastern edge of South Lanarkshire, near the village of Dunsyre, you can find Little Sparta. Unlike other gardens, this one was inspired by the artist and poet Ian Hamilton Finlay. Covering 5 acres, the gardens combine sculptures and poetry, each being revealed as you wind your way around the garden. There are over 275 artworks, which makes this garden, truly unique in Scotland. Open Jun/Jul/Aug/Sept. Wed, Fri and Sun 2.30pm - 5.00pm. Admission charge.
Isle of Arran. Renowned gardens with masses of spring rhododendron, guided walks and plant sales. Gardens open all year 9am-sunset. The castle is open on certain days from 1 April to 31 October. Admission charge. National Trust for Scotland. Planned closure for castle renovation: October 2017 to March 2019.
Near Maybole. (National Trust for Scotland). The Fountain Court, walled garden and Victorian vinery will offer inspiration to gardeners. Woodland walks give you the chance to view Scotland's wild flowers. Gardens and Park open daily all year.
Port Logan (14 miles south of Stranraer). A fabulous array of bizarre and beautiful plants, including many sub-tropical species which flourish under the influence of the Gulf Stream in 'Scotland's most exotic garden'. Open March - October. 10am-6pm (5pm in March & October). Admission charge.
Castle Douglas (National Trust for Scotland). The National Trust for Scotland's School of Practical Gardening takes post-graduate students and trains them in estate gardening. The gardens offer wonderful displays of daffodils, azaleas, herbaceous perennials and a walled garden still producing the vegetables, fruit and flowers it was designed to do. Threave Estate is a wildlife refuge with walks, hides and nature trails. Estate and Garden open all year. Threave House offers a fascinating insight into life in the 1930s in a country house built in the 19th century in the Scottish baronial style. House open April - October. Admission charge.
Near Thornhill. Extensive formal landscaped gardens on an impressive scale. Large parterres, woodland gardens, rare conifers, specimen trees. Victorian greenhouse, vegetable garden and plant centre. Open for Easter then May - August.
5 miles east of Stranraer. 75 acres set between 2 large lochs and 2 castles. Walled garden, 2-acre lily pond, a pinetum, landscaped terraces and avenues. Rhododendrons, azaleas, embothriums, herbaceous borders. Tea room, plant shop and gifts. Open from Easter - end September.
Dunragit near Stranraer. Open daily 10am - 5.30pm from March to October. Licensed Tearoom.
Near Gatehouse of Fleet. Walled garden with over 4,000 perennials. Nursery. Open Easter to end September (closed Mondays and weekday mornings).
Between Jedburgh and Kelso. Terraced gardens featuring still and moving water. Open all year daily 10am-5pm.
Stobo. Beautiful collection of trees and shrubs in extensive landscaped grounds. Part of Edinburgh Botanic Gardens. Guided walks throughout the season. Open daily February to November.
Near Peebles. Stunning collection of trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants. Walled garden, Laburnum Walk, Rose Garden and Wild Garden. Open daily all year.
Close to Melrose near St Boswells, are Mertoun Gardens. This 26 acre garden overlooks the River Tweed and has an interesting mix of trees, plants and shrubs. It is most well-known for its extensive walled kitchen gardens which generate a huge quantity of fruit, vegetables and flowers. Open April to September and private tours available.