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The obvious change in the season this past week has turned the attention of many to their gardens. Scotland is blessed with a huge variety of formal gardens that you can visit on holiday, either for inspiration, for a fun and educational day out with kids, or for a moment of quiet contemplation. Here are a few of our favourites and some equally amazing places to stay.
Inverewe Gardens is truly a majestic day out for anyone even slightly green fingered. Species which simply shouldn’t grow here thrive because of the Gulf Stream, which results in a riot of colour and scents throughout the year. From pre-historic trees such as Wollemi Pines to rhododendrons from China, Nepal and India, Himalayan poppies and Tasmanian eucalyptus there is something to discover and delight in every corner of this massive site. There is a wildlife hide that provides the perfect vantage point over Loch Ewe where coastal birds, seals and otters can be seen and there is a global garden trail to follow. With a network of paths and walking trails and an award-winning café, that open from the end of April, there is enough to occupy families on multiple visits.
Rionnag Lodge sits looking out to sea, just up the coast from here. The enthralling vantage point over the Minch is best enjoyed from the comfort of the hot tub, a spectacular feature that will appeal to all. This newly built house comes with a luxury interior and a wood burning stove to cosy up beside after you have enjoyed some of the fabulous walks available from the door.
Attadale Gardens has just opened for the season and offers spectacular views of Skye from the hill paths that meander through 20 acres of conifers and rhododendrons. Started by Baron Schroder in the late 19th century and totally transformed after storm damage in the 1980s, this is an artist’s garden designed to frame the magnificent vistas and the surrounding hills. Ancient paths wind past rare trees, over bridges and through impressive water-gardens with beautiful and exotic plantings. Giant Gunnera, Himalayan Primula and Meconopsis are some of the highlights, as well as a restored sunken garden, a herb garden, and a Japanese garden. There is a geodesic dome, imaginatively planted with ferns and a major sculpture collection scattered throughout the garden that children will love seeking out.
Taigh na Carr nestles at the bottom of a hill on the shores of Loch Duich just a short drive away from here. This contemporary architect designed retreat is in a stunning location with bright open rooms to make the most of the wonderful surroundings. It is an outdoor lovers dream with mountains and sea easily accessible and wildlife, like pine martins and otters, frequently spotted.
Gordon Castle walled garden near Fochabers stretches to almost 8 acres and is one of the oldest kitchen gardens in Britain. It has been lovingly restored to former glory by world-famous designer Arne Maynard, and it is now an oasis of peace and tranquillity. A myriad of herbs, cut flowers, fruit and vegetables are grown within the ancient walls, making the garden as beautiful as it is productive. Freshly picked produce is available in the award-winning café or to take-away from the well-stocked shop and with a wonderful natural play area and garden trails to explore kids will not have to worry about boredom.
Gardener’s Cottage is cycling distance away and as the name suggests it is the perfect holiday home for garden lovers. This former steading nestles close to the most perfectly manicured walled garden resplendent with climbing roses, shrubs, trees, exotics and perennial borders. Ideal for spending relaxing evenings after days out exploring.
Threave Garden is one of Scotland’s most biodiverse nature reserves, with a remarkable collection of wildlife, flora and fauna. Designed in the Scottish Baronial style, the gardens of this 1870s house are divided up to showcase different styles, including a rose garden, rockery and walled garden. It is child-friendly, especially if you like hide-and-seek, and if you cross the oriental bridge and find yourself in the rock garden there are Victorian garden games for everyone to enjoy. There is an osprey platform, Scotland’s only bat reserve and stunning views over the Galloway hills where you can also see red kites and peregrine falcons over the wet-lands nature reserve.
Beltie Lodge is a recently refurbished Arts and Crafts era house on the coast not far from here. Perfect for a large family get together it is ideal for those who seek a tranquil location but within easy reach of plenty of amenities. Old-fashioned luxury, stunning views and proximity to the water will mean it appeals to all generations.