Getting To Know The Historical Gardens Of Scotland

Discover your very own ‘Garden of Eden’ and enjoy a holiday in Scotland meandering through the beautiful parklands and gardens of Scotland… exotic, grand, colourful, spectacular and serene.

The Garden of Eden, you might think, has nothing to do with Scotland… but you’d be wrong. This very month a team of Scottish botanists will be venturing into Iraq in search of the scriptural Garden of Eden. It would appear that Scotland could well have the key to Paradise.

Assisting with the restoration of the deliberately ruined marshlands in Iraq, the Scottish botanists will be recording and registering plants with the aim of returning the neglected marshlands to their former glory.

Hopefully, today, they will be just as effective at improving the landscape in Iraq as Scottish botanists in the past have been effective in helping to improve gardens and landscapes around the world. (The Garden of Eden project will be explained by way of a ‘Paradise Restored’ exhibition in Scotland later this year.)

St Andrews

From James Smith, contemporary of Robert Burns and renowned 19th century Scottish collector of rare plants, and the famous Scottish botanist Robert Brown, who gained worldwide recognition in the early 19th century for his collection of plants from the Flinders Australia expedition… to 21st century Scottish botanists exporting their knowledge worldwide, and local landscape gardeners spreading their skills over the country’s parks and botanical gardens, Scotland’s reputation in the gardening world continues to grow.

St Andrews

Feeding visitors’ interest, The National Trust for Scotland offers every style of garden in its blossoming portfolio, covering gardens from medieval times to 20th century developments. Scattered throughout the country, Scotland’s diverse gardens vary tremendously in size, in plants grown, in setting, and in garden themes. Garden-lovers taking garden tours in Scotland can expect to find a colourful mix of landscapes and themes - from fragrant rose gardens and colourful herbaceous borders, to ancient arboreta and extensive country parks.

Many of the gardens in Scotland are long-established: take for example, Culross Palace, Fife, where the early 17th century walled medieval food and flower garden has been reconstructed (the south facing slope offers fantastic views over the Firth of Forth). This delightful garden is only 30 minutes drive from Edinburgh and can also be reached from Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort and Spa in St Andrews. In startling contrast the gardens of Haddo House, near The Marcliffe Hotel in Aberdeen, show Victorian formality at its best.

or an enjoyable 18th century picturesque clifftop setting, stroll the terraces and walled garden of Culzean Castle & Country Park in South Ayrshire, where the ornamental and productive gardens have been in place since the mid-17th century.

This is one of the finest estates the National Trust for Scotland has in its portfolio where you’ll find wonderful floral vistas, formal fountain court and terraces laid out around the castle itself.

Culzean Castle & Country Park, South Ayrshire

For an enjoyable 18th century picturesque clifftop setting, stroll the terraces and walled garden of Culzean Castle & Country Park in South Ayrshire, where the ornamental and productive gardens have been in place since the mid-17th century.

This is one of the finest estates the National Trust for Scotland has in its portfolio where you’ll find wonderful floral vistas, formal fountain court and terraces laid out around the castle itself.

The north walled garden contains a beautiful double herbaceous border while the south walled garden features a grotto, wildlife garden, and Victorian vinery. There is an orangery, camellia house, a deer park, swan pond and pagoda, and delightful woodland pathways which connect the key areas of interest.

World renowned for plant research, education and conservation, The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (founded 1670) has four very different gardens under its ‘umbrella’.  Sadly, these historic gardens all suffered damage when 100mph winds lashed across Scotland this January. A number of trees, some 125 years old, were toppled by hurricane force winds but curators are hopeful they will be able to propagate the rare varieties including the exotic ‘Tree of Heaven’,  a Chinese tree that was brought to Scotland by the Austrian-American explorer and botanist Joseph Rock in 1925. The Edinburgh Botanics are only minutes from The Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa.

Dawyck Botanic Garden

Under the RBG umbrella is Dawyck Botanic Garden in the Scottish Borders. Located in a picturesque glen Dawyck features some of the oldest towering trees Britain and has several guided walks. Dawyck enjoys a ‘continental’ climate where plants thrive, including specimens from Nepal, China and Chile. To the west, visitors can enjoy another exotic paradise at Logan Botanic Garden in Dumfries and Galloway. As well as woodland and walled gardens you can discover exotic plants from South Africa, Australasia, Central America and South America

Logan Gardens

Travel north into the Highland's and you will find Benmore Botanic Garden, steeped in history and located in a magnificent setting in Argyll near Crinan Hotel. There are 120 acres of mountainside garden to discover; a Victorian fernery, plants ranging from the Himalayas to South America; a Chilean rainforest glade, and a majestic Redwood Avenue which dates back to 1863. Surrounded by dramatic scenery, visitors can enjoy audio garden tours as well as escorted tours of this majestic garden.

Himalayan Rhododendrons, Tasmanian eucalyptus, and daisies from New Zealand grow happily alongside species from Chile and South Africa in the Northern Highland setting of Inverewe Garden & Estate. In a delightful setting on the edge of Loch Ewe this beautiful garden, warmed by the Gulf Stream, dates back to 1862. Pool House is the former home of the garden’s founder, Osgood Mackenzie.  

As the seasons change, so do the colours of the garden’s collection of exotic plants: somewhat strange considering the gardens are further north than Moscow. Look out for the wildlife hide (where Pine martin, otter, wading and diving birds can be viewed) on the shores of Loch Ewe, and check out the two walking trails and wilderness walk on the 2,000 acre estate.

In 2016, for the first time in its history, Inverewe House, has opened to the public, revealing a completely renovated, visionary and immersive 1930s house and visitor attraction, as well as The Bothy, which provides visitors with a welcome light refreshments stop in the heart of the spectacular gardens.  The Bothy is stocked with locally sourced Scottish produce, making this must visit destination more inviting than ever

Thistles on the Fife Coastal Path

The origins of St Andrews Botanical Gardens, in East Scotland, date back to 1889. This pretty tranquil garden is secreted in the centre of St Andrews, very near The Old Course Hotel, and well worth finding: it’s a peaceful, tranquil place in which to relax and enjoy nature in bloom. Large Rhododendrons put on a colourful show during May and June at the same time as around eighty dwarf species are at their blooming best. You’ll find pools and ponds; heathers and heaths flowering throughout the year, and herbaceous borders coming into their own from mid-summer until autumn.

In contrast to Glasgow's reputation as a bustling commercial city, the imposing Victorian glass houses at Glasgow's Botanic Gardens contain an extensive collection of both tropical and temperate plant species from around the world. Small specialist orchid displays and the wide open parkland just a few minutes walk from One Devonshire Gardens at Hotel du Vin are a real treat for the city residents and visitors alike.

Kibble Palace glass house

In the domed Kibble Palace glass house, amongst the ferns, sits a marble statue of Eve (by Scipione Tadolini), and in the grounds you’ll discover pleasant walks alongside River Kelvin, an arboretum, and formal gardens.

If you’re a sucker for glass houses, take a break in Glasgow's Winter Gardens (adjacent to The People’s Palace in historic Glasgow Green): this enormous Victorian conservatory with its exotic palms provides a tropical setting for a mid-morning break.

With widespread woodlands and gardens, located within the city, Glasgow’s biggest park - Pollock Country Park, was named ‘Best park in Britain’ in 2007’ and ‘Best park in Europe’ in 2008. It belonged to the Maxwell family for more than 700 years, and the famous Burrell Museum is found here, together with a fold of Highland cattle, a popular mountain bike circuit, and beautiful walled gardens containing more than a thousand Rhododendron species. A massive park, it’s easy to forget you’re in the middle of a city. Take time out to enjoy tranquil North Wood, as well as riverside walks and themed walks.

Walled Garden

A garden gem, or to be more accurate a trio of gardens, in the Scottish Highlands can be found in teh grounds of at Cawdor Castle which is near Boath House and Rocpool Reserve. The walled garden dates from around 1600 where, in 1981, a holly maze was planted. The formally-designed flower garden (c.1710) features yew hedges, fragrant rose and lavender beds, and colourful herbaceous borders. Much younger (1960s) is the steep wild garden, a natural mass of Rhododendrons, daffodils, primroses, azaleas mixed with willows, bamboos and towering trees.

Other gardens in the Nairn area worth visiting are Speyside Heather Garden, Brodie Castle, and Revack Estate… not to forget Boath House, a member of Luxury Scotland, which boasts 20 acres of beautiful landscaped gardens of its own.

Whether or not Scotland holds the key to Paradise might be questionable, but there’s certainly no doubt that Scotland does have the key to myriad beautiful parklands and gardens, so why not visit Scotland and enjoy them with us… in unquestionable luxury.

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