The Best Gardens in Scotland
Abriachan Garden and Nurseries Loch Ness
This garden is set on a hillside overlooking Loch Ness nine miles south of Inverness on the A82. You can buy a wide range of plants in the nursery.
The garden is reached by climbing a series of footpaths which zig zag their way up to the viewing point where you can take a seat in a shelter and enjoy the view over the loch. You might be lucky and see a red squirrel or two.
There are wonderful Sorbus species (the Rowan family) putting on a show of autumn colour and berries as well many herbaceous plants including the September flowering Gentian, Gentiana septemfida.
Telephone 01463 861 232 Web address www.lochnessgarden.com
Duthie Park Aberdeen
Near the river Dee in Aberdeen this fine park is home to the David Welch winter gardens which are a horticultural extravaganza. If excellence is your quest then a visit to this colourful well grown landscape of plants is a must. Cool corridors with hot hanging baskets and colourful flowering plants link climatic zones such as dessert and tropics. There is a learning zone for children.
Duthie Park Winter Gardens are spectacular all the year round.
The space in between the wintergardens has been used to good effect to with many plants, trees and shrubs growing in the microclimate created by the glasshouses. Many of the plants are tender in our climate and you would not expect to find growing out of doors so far north in Aberdeen. The winter gardens and their central cloister are highly recommended. www.aberdeencity.gov.uk
The SEER Garden Enochdu Perthshire
The taste says it all. This is a very special garden and home of rock dust demonstrations. If we start with the hypothesis that our soil is becoming depleted of minerals and accept that we need to put minerals back then this is the place for you.
Visitors inspect the crops in the polthene tunnel.
Volcanic rock dust is added to the soil either through compost or directly giving plants the balanced minerals they need to do well. And it does make a difference. The fruit does taste remarkably better and vegetables do have a better taste. Visits by prior arrangement. www.seercentre.org.uk
Ballindalloch Castle, Banffshire
Close to the River Spey in the heart of whisky country this is truly a stunning garden in an unexpected well sheltered location. The recently created rose garden is colourful and filled with fragrance. The roses are well labelled which is helpful if you are planning to add new roses to your own garden.
The rock garden set against some very handsome big trees looks good even in July when I visited. No doubt it will look extra special in the spring. It would be easy to pass by Ballindalloch but I would say be surprised and call in for a gardening feast set beside a beautiful Castle. Ballindalloch is sometimes called, with justification, “the Pearl of Banffshire”. www.ballindallochcastle.co.uk
The Floral Hall, Bught Park, Inverness.
I have visited the Floral Hall and gardens on three occasions and I can commend the horticultural excellence and first class displays. No journey north to Inverness and beyond would be complete without making a pilgrimage to this beautiful place. Here are some pictures to give you just a hint of what waits in store to surprise you. Enjoy.
There is a cafe/tea room on site with a sitooterie and we can recommend it. Car parking is free.
An amazing display of air plants and Bromeliads grown on artficial trees of cork.
This is a photograph of my friends Liz and Liz. Can you guess what you are seeing?
Answers will be put in a hat and the lucky winner will be sent a Green Alkanet plant from my garden. It has small blue flowers which bees love followed by black seed which field mice love.
Note - Plant health regulations may prevent me sending this outwith the United Kingdom.
Everyone enjoyed our visit and guided tour. The roses were splendid. The herbaceous borders were magnificent. The garden had an old world feel about it. Well established and colourful. We will return by popular request.
Liz with Lilium regale, the Regal lily, Earlston,July 2011.
Spring is springing mighty fast - (or what to do to increase your snowdrop display).
The daffodils are almost in flower. Winter flowering shrubs like Viburnum fragrans are striking with heavily scented flowers. Snowdrops are in full bloom and looking great. Many Scottish estates and gardens are awash with drifts of this snowlike flower including Findlaystone at Langbank to the west and Cambo, Kingsbarns near St Andrews in the east. They are all part of the Snowdrop Festival involving thirty gardens and estates throughout Scotland. You can visit these places between now and early March and drink in the beauty of early spring. For more information go to the world wide web and look up visitscotland.com to see Events February.
I was very fortunate as a Garden Boy, at Balbirnie Gardens Markinch Fife, when winter was winter and before anyone had thought of global warming. I and other youngsters were sent out snowdrop picking to supply the flower markets of Dundee and Edinburgh. We picked in February and March. Often we picked with snow on the ground. The snowdrops were sheltered in the woods by mighty beech and oak. The routine was fifty flowers and two substantial ivy leaves to a bunch held together by an elastic band. The bunches were places in flower boxes and carted to Markinch Railway Station to catch the afternoon trains. Later next day or the following morning they would be adorning living rooms and bringing spring into the homes of city dwellers.
Snowdrops and snow, Linn Park, Glasgow.
Have you ever bought snowdrop bulbs and wondered why success is so slow and patchy? Snowdrops don't transplant well as dry bulbs. In my opinion they need their micro flora of fungii to accompany them. The best way to buy snowdrops is in the green.
The specialist nurserymen and women lift the bulbs in full leaf after the flowers have gone over. They are then carefully package and despatched to get to you quickly for planting. Their roots are accompanied by soil and the wonderful flora which enjoys a symbiotic relationhip with the bulbs. Snowdrops treated in this way continue to thrive and give gardeners years and years of pleasure.
To help multiply your own snowdrops lift, carefully divide and transpant them when they are in the green just after flowering. Keep plenty of soil on the roots and you can't go wrong. Remember to water the transplanted bulbs in even if you think that the soil is wet. You can transplant them to new locations or simply make the group or drift larger.
Visit some of the gardens in the Snowdrop Festival. Many sell bulbs in the green. Good luck with your snowdrops. Give them your tender loving care and they will give you and yours generations of pleasure.
Brian M Sutherland
Brian Sutherland trained at Threave School of Practical Gardening (National Trust for Scotland) and at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.