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Issue 41 - 10 Best Gardens continued...

Scotland Magazine Issue 41
October 2008


This article is 10 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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10 Best Gardens continued...

Ardkinglas Gardens, Cairndow, Argyll The Ardkinglas Estate occupies a spectacular position along the upper four miles of Loch Fyne, also encompassing Glen Fyne. There is something enchanting about the woodland garden, with the River Kinglas gushing and gurgling among the mighty specimen trees.

Designated as a ‘designed landscape’, the house, outbuildings, ornamental lake, walled garden, parkland and woodland, all combine to form a cohesive whole. Some areas are not open to the public, but the woodland garden alone is well worth a visit, covering 25 acres in a sheltered position amid the untamed Highlands.

Keep an eye out for red squirrels, an increasingly rare native squirrel, which still enjoys a firm stronghold in Ardkinglas. Tel: +44 (0)1499 600 261 Open daily, all year round from dawn till dusk; Admission: £3.50, under 16s free Logan Botanic Garden, Port Logan, Dumfries & Galloway Southern hemisphere plants abound at Logan Botanic Garden, which is warmed by the Gulf Stream and in places feels more like a tropical paradise than the bracing winds and rain that we all associate with the British Isles.

You will find colourful blooms at any time of year, in a garden that is famed for its tender plants that would not survive elsewhere in Scotland.

Don’t miss the Brazilian gunnera that produces the largest leaves of any outdoor plant in the UK, or the Chusan palms, rare rhododendrons and magnolias, or the magnificent water garden with its New Zealand cabbage palms. Tel: +44 (0)1776 860 231 Open daily, 10am-5pm (March and October), 10am-6pm (April-September); Admission: adults £4, concessions £3.50, children £1, families £9 Kellie Castle & Garden, Pittenweem, Fife The childhood home of famous architect Sir Robert Lorimer still shows traces of his influence. The castle’s gardens include an organically managed arts and crafts walled garden, woodland and meadow walks that play on all the senses, and all sorts of activities for the kids including an adventure playground, quizzes and treasure hunts.

This garden isn’t simply one to walk through and then leave, though those who do so will still marvel at the plants, trees and wildlife they have seen. Visit in autumn and get involved in Potato Day or Apple Day, or take a tour on Halloween. Christmas is particularly special, done Victorian-style with craft stalls and a visit from Father Christmas himself. Tel: +44 (0)844 493 2184 Open daily, all year round, 9.30am-5.30pm; Admission: adults £8, concession £5, families £20 Benmore Botanic Garden, Dunoon, Argyll Look no further than Benmore if you want spectacular scenery and a dizzying array of plants and majestic trees. Its mountainside setting is naturally dramatic, and across 120 acres the garden impresses hundreds of visitors every year with its species from Bhutan, Chile, Tasmania and Japan, and most impressive, its avenue of Giant Redwoods. The redwoods were planted by the wealthy owner of the estate, Piers Patrick, in 1863.

There is much to see in the Botanic Garden, including a Victorian Fernery, Bhutanese Glade, Chilean Rainforest Glade, Tasmian Ridge, Formal Garden and Puck’s Hut. Puck’s Hut was designed by Sir Robert Lorimer and dedicated to Sir Isaac Bayley Balfour, whose idea it was to create a west coast botanic garden. Tel: +44 (0)1369 706 261 Open daily 10am-5pm (March and October), 10am-6pm (April-September) Admission: adults £4, concessions £3.50, children £1, families £9 Jura House Garden, Ardfin Estate, Isle of Jura The garden at Jura House is unique. It doesn’t hark back to days gone by, it isn’t formally laid out or kept the same from one year to the next, and it doesn’t attempt to incorporate every species or growing environment under the sun. The garden at Jura House is everchanging, according to the unwavering enthusiasm and creativity of its head gardener, Peter Cool.

Cool clearly has a love of unadulterated and unspoilt nature, so the garden is not excessively organised, at least on casual inspection. Everything is managed organically, including giant palms and ferns from around the world. The warmth of the Gulf Stream allows plants to thrive here that would not survive in many parts of Scotland.

The garden is a riot of colour and ingenuity, and a joy to visit with every changing season. Tel: +44 (0)1496 820 315 Open daily, all year round, 9am-5pm; Admission: adults £2.50, children (5-16 years) £1