Inverewe Garden, Wester Ross, for a tropical paradise
You won’t believe you’re standing in the wild west coast of Scotland when you take a look at the colourful exotic plants on display in the beautiful gardens at Inverewe, situated on the banks of picturesque Loch Ewe. First created back in the 1860s, today you’ll find a lush sub-tropical oasis full of plants from all around the world, including New Zealand, China, South Africa and the Himalayas. They are all able to flourish thanks to the warm currents of the Gulf Stream in this area. The slate sculpture in the walled garden is worth a look.
Best for: lovers of rare and exotic plants.
Also good for: grandchildren, who’ll laugh at the yellow trumpet plants found in the new Savage Garden - they smell like ‘cat pee’!
For more details: Inverewe Garden & Estate
The gardens at Hill of Tarvit, Fife, for a round of golf
The gardens in the grounds of the 20th-century Hill of Tarvit mansion house, near Cupar, Fife, include woods, open heath, parkland and a nine-hole golf course. At the restored Kingarrock Hickory Golf Course, you can swing back to the 1900s and play with original wooden hickory clubs – a mid mashie and mashie niblick – and rubber-wound balls. Afterwards, head to the nearby Scotstarvit Tower, an imposing five-storey tower house – pick up the key first from the
reception at the mansion.
Best for: keen golfers.
Also good for: antique hunters – the Hill of Tarvit mansion houses an outstanding collection of furniture, paintings and porcelain.
For more details: Kingarrock Hickory Golf Course
Dr Neil’s Garden, Edinburgh, for quiet contemplation
If you want to escape the crowds in the city, make your way to Duddingston Kirk, near the loch at Arthur’s Seat, and you’ll stumble upon a secret haven called Dr Neil’s Garden. Enjoy some peace and quiet or find inspiration from the imaginative gardens created by husband and wife doctors, Andrew and Nancy Neil. The Physic Garden, a memorial to the couple who both died within months of each other in 2005, highlight their love of both medicine and horticulture. Thomson Tower in the grounds houses a museum of curling.
Best for: solitude seekers.
Also good for: arty types – the minister featured in Raeburn’s famous painting was skating on Duddingston loch.
For more details: Dr Neil’s Garden
Find out the best gardens in the UK to visit with children
Crathes Garden, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Crathes Garden, near Banchory, for impressive topiary
You’ll be inspired to get your garden shears out after a walk around the grounds at Crathes Castle, three miles east of Banchory, Aberdeenshire. Great yew hedges, planted over 300 years ago, have been trimmed into mind-blowing shapes, and the walled garden, which is divided into eight sections, is the most northern example of an Arts and Crafts garden in the UK. Free garden tours take place on Wednesdays from April to October. Six easy to moderate signposted trails can be found on the estate grounds.
Best for: topiary fans.
Also good for: bat watchers – it’s one of the best places in Scotland to look out for them.
For more details: Crathes Castle, Garden & Estate
Dumfries House Estate, Ayrshire, for an arboretum
Thanks to the support of HRH Prince Charles and a multimillion pound makeover, the grounds of Dumfries House in East Ayrshire have been transformed. Only a few years ago, the site of the admirable arboretum was a boggy untidy wasteland. Now it boasts around 500 different types of trees, as well as shrubs and woodland flowers that provide year-round interest. The woodland shelter in the centre was created by students of the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community. A fun adventure playground on the estate will keep youngsters amused.
Best for: green-fingered royalists.
Also good for: students – six training centres in the grounds offer education and training programmes.
For more details: Dumfries House Estate
Dawyck Botantical Gardens, in the Scottish Borders, for remarkable trees
The gardens at Dawyck in Stobo, near Pebbles, is an outpost of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and home to three of Scotland’s ‘heritage trees’ - trees with historical and cultural significance. The silver fir, planted around 1680, is 35 metres tall and has a trunk over five metres wide. A larch, found near Dynamo Pond, is one of the few surviving larches in the country, and the Dawyck beech tree, discovered in 1860, has given rise to other specimens around the world. The spectacular Azalea Terrace is a treat for visitors in spring.
Best for: tree-huggers.
Also good for: tea drinkers – the café in the award-winning Visitor Centre serves a fine range of brews, as well as cakes and bakes.
For more details: Dawyck Botantical Gardens
Find out about Saga's fantastic range of garden holidays