BEAUTIFUL gardens, hidden gems and expert advice. Let us walk you through some of Scotland's finest horticultural delights. 



These summer-flowering perennial plants can be showstoppers. Also known as the African Lily, they are commonly found in shades of blue and purple, as well as white and pink, and thrive in well-drained, sunny positions.

Where to see: Cambo Gardens, Kingsbarns, St Andrews.

Ardkinglas Woodland Garden, Cairndow, Argyll

Set at the head of Loch Fyne, Ardkinglas Woodland Garden has an impressive collection of champion trees including "the mightiest conifer in Europe", a Silver Fir with an almost 10-metre girth.

There are Patagonian Cypress, Hinoki Cypress, Western Red Cedar and Mountain Hemlock, not to forget a former holder of the tallest tree in Britain title, an Abies Grandis (Grand Fir) planted in 1875 that measures 64.28m (211ft).


See also C = Champion Trees

Armadale Castle Gardens, Skye

Woodland gardens, ponds, herbaceous borders and terrace walks make this a peaceful place. Plants include giant daisies and eye-catching Chilean fire bush. There are sculptures throughout the grounds such The Homecoming, a pair of bronze Skye Terriers.


An Cala Gardens, Seil, Argyll

Garden designer and landscape architect Thomas Mawson was commissioned by Colonel Arthur Murray and his wife Faith Celli in 1930 to draw up plans for their five-acre plot outside the clachan of Ellenabeich on Seil.

It took a year to convert the difficult terrain into what Mawson had envisaged: a task that involved the removal of bedrock, importing topsoil and the creation of terraces, walls, steps, paths and lawns.

Today, this pretty garden, nestled snugly in a horseshoe-shaped shelter of surrounding cliffs, has winding burns, a waterfall and ponds.



Not everyone has a garden but that doesn't need to put a kibosh on growing your own fruit and vegetables. The first step is to find out about allotment provision in your local authority area. The Scottish Allotments and Gardens Society website has a handy list.


See also O = Orchards

The Herald:


Botanic Gardens

We are spoiled for choice when it comes to botanic gardens. Here's a few of the most interesting.

Benmore Botanic Garden, Dunoon

Visitors enter through the majestic Sierra Redwood Avenue. There is also a Victorian fernery and a hillside lined with trees from Tasmania, Bhutan, Japan and Chile.

Cruickshank Botanic Garden, Aberdeen University

Home to a rose garden, herbaceous border, an arboretum and a nationally important collection of more than 2,500 labelled plants.

Dawyck Botanic Garden near Peebles

One of the world's finest arboreta, make a beeline for the Beech Walk where the colours change with the seasons. There is also an extensive conifer collection dating back to 1680.

Dundee University Botanic Garden

A floating aquatic fern from Rio del Sul in Brazil is among the more unusual plants.

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Highlights include the largest collection of wild-origin Chinese plants outside China, the Highlands-inspired Scottish Heath Garden and a 165m-long herbaceous border.

Glasgow Botanic Gardens

A collection of plants from five continents can be found in the grand Victorian-era glasshouse centrepiece Kibble Palace.

Inverness Botanic Gardens

Bougainvillea, bird of paradise and orchids are among the showy tender plants. The cactus house boasts hundreds of species planted in sculptural shapes among the rocks.

Logan Botanic Garden near Stranraer

Warmed by the Gulf Stream, the climate is well suited to southern hemisphere plants. There is a walled garden, woodland garden and Victorian-style conservatory.

St Andrews Botanic Garden

There are 8,000 species of ferns, herbaceous plants, shrubs and trees and several glasshouses including those devoted to alpine, temperate and succulent species.

Visit;;;; and


Bluebells – or Hyacinthoides non-scripta – typically flower between mid-April and late May creating a brightly coloured, sweet-scented carpet on woodland floors.

Where to see: Dunninald Castle and Gardens, Montrose, Angus; Glen Finglas, Brig o' Turk; Kinclaven Bluebell Wood, Perthshire; Keil's Den, Leven, Fife; and Clyde Valley Woodlands, South Lanarkshire.

Blair Castle and Gardens, Blair Atholl, Perthshire

Fans of ITV period drama Victoria may recognise Blair Castle from an episode in the second series.

The grounds are fit for royalty including the nine-acre walled Hercules Garden with landscaped ponds, a folly, Chinese bridge and orchard. In the summer, the resplendent herbaceous borders are its the crowning glory.



Cambo Gardens, Kingsbarns near St Andrews

There's a modern edge to this traditional Victorian walled garden, and you'll see a nod to its many charms in these pages. Snowdrops, snowflakes and aconites are a speciality, so make a note in the diary to visit between late January and early March.


Champion trees

Scotland boasts many champion trees: the largest, tallest and the exceptional. Check out Ardkinglas Woodland Garden (see A above), Dawyck Botanic Garden, Blair Castle and Gardens (see B); and Glenapp Castle, Ayrshire (see G).

There is a Champion Tree Trail at Mount Stuart on Bute which features a Corsican Pine, an evergreen conifer planted around 1864 which has grown to 46.5m (153ft).


Culross Palace and Gardens, Fife

The reconstructed period garden, used to grow organic herbs, fruit and vegetables in the grounds of the ochre-coloured palace, featured in hit US TV series Outlander doubling for that of fictional Castle Leoch.


Carolside Gardens, Earlston, Scottish Borders

The grounds of late 18th century mansion Carolside House are a romantic setting with an oval walled garden and a collection of ancient roses.




A hardy herbaceous perennial with tall, stunning spires which bloom in mid-summer, delphiniums come in shades of purple, blue, white and pink.

Where to see: House of Pitmuies Garden near Forfar, Angus.

The Herald:

Drummond Castle Gardens near Crieff, Perthshire

How stately are the gardens at Drummond Castle? Well, it was cast as the 18th-century Palace of Versailles in series two of Outlander. The grounds also had a starring role in the 1995 film Rob Roy. Oh, and you can see them in our fashion special in The Herald Magazine today.

The formal terraced gardens include ancient yew hedges and a copper beech tree planted by Queen Victoria to commemorate her visit in 1842.


Dr Neil's Garden, Duddingston, Edinburgh

One of Edinburgh's hidden gems – or secret gardens if you fancy – this spellbinding space was the brainchild of two doctors, Andrew and Nancy Neil, who in 1963 set to work transforming church land, formerly grazed by calves and geese, beside Duddingston Loch.

Conifers, heathers and alpines, with primulas, magnolias, rhododendrons and azaleas are among its many delights. In one corner stands Thomson's Tower, designed by William Henry Playfair, which was built in 1825 for the Duddingston Curling Society to store its stones.


Dumfries House Estate, Ayrshire

By Mark Smith

This is a garden that almost didn't happen. Ten years ago, the estate in Ayrshire was on the point of being sold and broken up before Prince Charles stepped in and bought it for the nation.

He and his team began transforming the large but neglected estate into a most remarkable, and useful, garden. It looks good, but it does good too.

The good work can be seen wherever you go: Dumfries House is one of the biggest local employers, there's a chef school and fitness centre, and some of the money raised by the trust that runs the estate has been spent on regenerating surrounding villages.

But it's the gardens that are at the heart of it. One of the highlights is the walled garden, but there's lots more to see: the Chinese bridge, for instance, that sits like a dragon crouched over the River Lugar and is based on original design sketches completed in the 19th century by Scottish architect Robert Weir Schultz.

READ MORE: 'I almost died – gardening brought me back to life'

Then there's the maze with 2,000 6ft-high trees laid along paths that stretch for half a mile. And the red avenue that takes you to the top of the estate and the constant contrasts: urban and rural, river and woodland, past and future.

The great metal hoist – a giant letter A on the horizon – marks the site of the former Barony mine.



Earlshall Castle at Leuchars, Fife

The topiary garden was laid out by prolific Scottish architect Sir Robert Lorimer in 1890. There is also a rose terrace, orchard and croquet lawn.


Explorers Garden, Pitlochry, Perthshire

Scotland has produced some of the world's most successful plant hunters and this project celebrates their remarkable lives and the contribution they made to gardening. Here's some of those that feature:

George Forrest, born in Falkirk, 1873

Visiting China, Burma and Tibet, Forrest was one of the greatest collectors of rhododendrons. He risked life and limb to bring home plant specimens, seeds and bulbs including having to flee Yunnan during the 1905 Tibetan rebellion. He also collected many new and rare alpines.

David Douglas, born in Scone, 1799

After starting out as a gardener's boy at Scone Palace, Douglas travelled across the US, including Hawaii, and Portugal and the Galapagos Islands. He introduced more than 200 species such as Douglas Fir, Noble Fir, Grand Fir, Maple and Honeysuckle.

Robert Fortune, born in Kelloe, Berwickshire, 1812

He most famously stole tea plants from China on behalf of the British East India Company in 1848. Fortune also visited Indonesia, Japan, Hong Kong, Philippines, with his many trips helping bring varieties of peonies, azaleas and chrysanthemum.



These bulbous perennials, also known as dog's tooth violet, are recognisable by their star-shaped flowers in lemon yellow and rose pink.

Where to see: Branklyn Garden, Perth, and Wemyss Castle, Fife.



There's many old superstitions surrounding foxgloves from being unlucky to pick one and bring it indoors, to them being a floral talisman that wards off witchcraft and bad fairies.

The common foxglove, known for its distinctive pinkish purple flowers, can grow up to 6ft tall. They typically bloom between May and July.

The Herald:

Few plants boast more nicknames – bloody finger, cow flop, dead man's bells, dog's lugs, dragon's mouth, fairy fingers, lady's thimble, lion's mouth, Scotch mercury and witches' gloves – to name but a few.

The Edinburgh University-educated physician Dr William Withering, who published An Account of the Foxglove and Some of Its Medical Uses in 1785, outlined how it could be used to treat dropsy (oedema), a condition associated with heart failure.

The plants were grown commercially for drug companies during the Second World War, although there is recorded use in folk medicine stretching back centuries.

Foxgloves have featured in the work of many poets, artists, authors and musicians. Such is their nostalgia-stirring properties, they were taken and planted by emigrating Scots overseas.

But while they look spectacular, the plant is toxic including to pets such as cats and dogs.

Where to see: Foxgloves are widespread in woodlands, hedgerows and along roadside verges.


It's not all about blazes of colour: ferns can add interesting texture and provide shade.

Where to see: Ascog Hall Fernery and Gardens, Bute, and Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

Falkland Palace and Gardens, Fife

The first record of a garden here was in 1451. Head gardener Susan Thores is overseeing the restoration of the historic Percy Cane-designed garden as well as a wildflower meadow project to encourage more wildlife.


Floors Castle Gardens near Kelso, Scottish Borders

Those who enjoy a gentle woodland stroll will adore the Star Plantation with its mix of mature hardwood trees, open glades and shrubs.

The Millennium Garden is a formal, French-style parterre with an upper terrace containing heritage apple trees. There is also a four-acre walled garden which dates to the 1850s and sublime herbaceous borders.



Greenbank Garden, Clarkston, East Renfrewshire

By Ann Fotheringham

Tucked away in a little countryside corner of suburban East Renfrewshire, this oasis of peace and quiet is home to an impressive collection of more than 2,600 species of plants and flowers (including 568 varieties of daffodil).

The Georgian house at its heart was built in 1763 by Glasgow merchant Robert Allason, a baker who made his fortune as a land-holder in the Caribbean, trading in both tobacco and slaves.

After the American Wars of Independence Allason went bankrupt and lost the house and estate, but his loss is our gain, as keen amateur gardeners flock to Greenbank for inspiration.

READ MORE: 'I almost died – gardening brought me back to life'

The gardens are truly lovely, made up of around 12 different areas, all with their own character, and the sights and scents change seasonally. The house is open from April to October, on Sundays only, if you fancy spending some time checking out the horticultural texts in the Allason family library.

There is a lovely woodland walk which starts at the courtyard and winds its way through the trees surrounding the walled garden, over the burn and into a mini sculpture garden. It's fun with young children who can seek out the owl, a pussycat and a water sprite.



Having suffered a spell banished to the wilderness of unpopular blooms, geraniums have been creeping their way back into fashion. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle chose white Mayflower and Dusky Cranesbill geraniums for the floral displays at their wedding.

Where to see: Dumfries House.

The Herald:

Glenapp Castle, Ayrshire

Annmaree Mitchell is head gardener at Glenapp Castle in Ayrshire where she oversaw a four-year restoration. Highlights include a wooded glen, exotic plants collected since the Victorian era and a Gertrude Jekyll-designed Italian garden.

Mitchell previously worked at Logan Botanic Garden and Threave Garden in south-west Scotland. In addition to Glenapp, she looks after a four-acre garden created by the late Davina Dalrymple, Countess of Stair, at Balker near Castle Kennedy on the outskirts of Stranraer.

How did you fall in love with gardening?

I took the pip from an orange, stuck it in a pot of cacti and it grew. I thought this was the greatest thing. I would have been about nine or 10.

What does your job entail?

Everything from deciding what drainage needs to go in to pulling out weeds. We produce all the herbs, fruit and vegetables for the kitchen and cut flowers for the florist at the castle. There are 36 acres of grounds and we're about to take on another 75 acres which includes a pinetum.

Do you have a favourite part?

The walled garden. There is a real Victorian feel and that is what I enjoy. I restored it over around a year-and-a-half. I have always loved herbaceous plants.

What are the biggest challenges?

The scale of the garden.

Any disasters over the years?

I started out at Logan Botanic Garden where there was a Golden Scotch Pine which I thought was the loveliest little tree.

I bought one and planted it in my parents' garden– it is now 30ft tall. What I hadn't known is that the one I saw at Logan was being bonsaied by the rock it was sitting on. After a few years I realised mine wasn't going to be quite as dwarf as I thought.

What tips would you give to aspiring gardeners?

Don't take on too much to begin with. I would recommend putting a lawn in first and then taking beds out of it as you are able to look after them. Grass is quick to cut, whereas beds need a lot of maintenance. You can build it up slowly over the years.

When you have a newly planted plot with gaps between the plants, use annuals and biennials that self-sow, such as poppies and foxgloves. They will keep the weeds down, give a softer more established look and can be pulled out easily if they overcrowd plants.



Herbaceous border

A collection of juxtaposed shapes, textures and colour, the herbaceous border is the ultimate showcase.

Where to see: Crathes Castle Gardens, Banchory, Aberdeenshire; Cambo Gardens; Dirleton Castle and Garden, East Lothian; Floors Castle Gardens; and Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

House of Aigas, Beauly, Inverness-shire

Dating back to the 1880s, the small arboretum has 61 species including giant sequoias, western red cedars, Asian spruces, Japanese hibas and nootka cypresses, as well native hardwoods such as ash, English oak and lime.

The gardens are open to the public twice each summer, this year on June 24 and July 29.


Harmony Garden, Melrose, Scottish Borders

Does exactly what it says on the tin. A tranquil spot with manicured lawns, scented borders, fruit and vegetable beds. Mind you, this weekend things will be a tad more high-octane with the Borders Book Festival taking place until Sunday.

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Hidden Gardens, Pollokshields, Glasgow

The ethos is to promote understanding between people of all cultures, faiths and backgrounds. On former industrial wasteland behind Tramway Arts Centre, the project was spearheaded by the soon-to-be defunct NVA and opened in 2003.

There is a herb border with medicinal and culinary varieties chosen to create a sensory experience using touch, taste and smell, and a bee and butterfly border containing native and non-native plants rich in nectar and pollen.




In Greek mythology, Iris was the personification of the rainbow and messenger of the gods. Here in Scotland our native yellow flag iris was used as a traditional natural dye for tartan and tweed.

According to the National Records of Scotland, the roots were harvested to make black or dark blue dyes with the leaves used to create a bright green dye.

Where to see: Wet and boggy areas. It flowers from May until July.

Inverewe Garden and Estate, Poolewe, Ross-shire

Prepare to be dazzled by plant and tree species which you wouldn't expect to find blooming in this north-westerly corner of the Highlands.

The effects of the Gulf Stream, coupled with the excellent foresight of garden creator Osgood Mackenzie who in 1862 planted more than 100 acres of shelterbelt, mean that the likes of Himalayan blue poppies and Tasmanian eucalypts thrive.

READ MORE: 'I almost died – gardening brought me back to life'

Inverewe boasts the world's most northerly grove of a Jurassic tree. Wollemi Pine was thought to have died out two million years ago, but the species was discovered in Australia in the 1990s. Eight were planted at Inverewe in 2009.

There is also a rhododendron collection from as far afield as China, Nepal and the Indian subcontinent. The wider estate is home to Scotland's "big five" species: red squirrels, red deer, otters, seals and golden eagles.



Japanese Garden at Cowden Castle near Dollar, Clackmannanshire

Located at the foot of the Ochils, the seven-acre Japanese garden at Cowden Castle was devised by Scots-born explorer Ella Christie after a trip to Kyoto in 1907.

Today it features original lanterns shipped from Japan as antiques in 1908 alongside two recently installed bridges including one in a zig-zag shape said to represent the complicated path of life.

New plants include Prunus "Tai-haku", Prunus "Fugenzo", Prunus "Gyoiko" – all species of flowering cherry trees.

Open to the public from July 6.


Jupiter Artland, near Wilkieston​, West Lothian

A sculpture garden with artwork including a contemporary folly by Anya Gallaccio, The Light Pours Out Of Me, in homage to the great tradition of 18th-century British landscape gardening.

Among the key pieces is the twisted steel matrix of Antony Gormley's Firmament and Cells of Life, a series of curving landforms and pools, by Charles Jencks.



Kailzie Gardens, Peebles, Scottish Borders

A walled garden, greenhouses, burnside walk and the oldest European larch, planted in 1725, are among the attractions. Throughout June, the laburnum tunnel is a glorious sight.




A delicious mainstay of many gardens. Well, slug-permitting that is. Pass the salt.

The Herald:

Little Sparta, Dunsyre, South Lanarkshire

Ian Hamilton Finlay's garden at Little Sparta contains more than 270 artworks, a fusion of poetic and sculptural elements within the natural landscape.




Known as Himalayan poppy, this vivid blue flower is reminiscent of a kingfisher's wings.

Where to see: Branklyn Garden and Inverewe Garden and Estate.


Prepare to lose yourself in these amazing mazes: Traquair Maze at Innerleithen, Peeblesshire, was planted in 1981 and is the largest hedged maze in Scotland, while the Murray Star Maze at Scone Palace contains 1,000 purple beech trees and 1,000 green beech trees.

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By Mark Smith

A garden made from rock and boulder and stone and what its designer, the landscape artist Charles Jencks, calls the bones of a marvellous ecology.

Based on the site of an old open case mine near Sanquhar in Dumfries-shire, the design of the Crawick Multiverse was inspired by themes of space, astronomy and the cosmos, featuring swirling paths to the top of the site and huge boulders as arrows to take you round it.

Jencks, who was co-founder with his late wife Maggie of the Maggie's cancer centres, is known for similar projects including the stunning Garden of Cosmic Speculation, at Portrack House near Dumfries, but the Crawick Multiverse is perhaps his rawest.

READ MORE: 'I almost died – gardening brought me back to life'

All the materials were taken from the site and the aim is a form of rebirth. "The landscape had to be healed," said Jencks ahead of its opening in 2015.



New Hopetoun Gardens, Newton, West Lothian

Dougal Philip and Lesley Watson are celebrating 40 years of running these popular gardens and the couple has created a showcase featuring 40 of their favourite plants. Pop along and see what they have chosen.




In urban centres, orchards are springing up transforming formerly disused wasteland.

The Orchard Project supports community orchards. Fergus Walker is the Glasgow project manager and co-ordinates orchards in Alexandra Park, Glasgow Green, Gorbals, North Kelvin, Ruchazie and Springburn.

Volunteers help with the maintenance as well as tasks such as pruning and planting. There are apple pressing days and fruit preservation classes each autumn. In addition to Glasgow, the Orchard Project has groups in Edinburgh, West Lothian and Fife.

"It's about growing community in all senses of the term," says Walker. "As the orchard grows, so does the local area. Urban areas can be totally transformed through this type of engagement. It's a fabulous way to regenerate."




After working in the rag trade and record shops, Billy Carruthers opened up Binny Plants in Ecclesmachan, West Lothian, in 1992, and has carved a reputation as Scotland's leading peony expert.

The Herald:

How did you fall in love with gardening?

I was quite ill as a child – badly asthmatic – and needed to be outside, so I looked after my mum and dad's garden in Mosspark, Glasgow. I fell in love with peonies when I was about five because they used to flower on my birthday in June each year.

Why peonies?

They are incredibly special flowers. The Chinese regard peonies as the imperial flower. They have been breeding them for around 2,000 years.

Tell us about the types you grow?

One of our specialities is intersectional peonies which are hybrids between the tree peony and the herbaceous peony. These are incredibly vigorous, floriferous and strong growing plants. Peonies are popular again after falling out of favour about 50 years ago.

Peonies can live for over a hundred years. If there is an old, derelict garden it will be full of brambles and nettles; the other plant that survives is peonies.

How do you many in your collection?

Probably over 300. We have between 150-200 available each year.

What top tips would you give to aspiring peony growers?

Peonies have been maligned a little bit. People seem to think they are difficult to grow when they are actually easy because they are so tough. If they are planted properly and looked after well for the first year, then peonies will look after themselves forever.

READ MORE: 'I almost died – gardening brought me back to life'

My three main tips are to make sure you don't plant them too deep, that they are planted in the sun and they never get dry.



Quoys of Houton, Orphir, Orkney

Part of the biennial Orkney Garden Festival, Quoys of Houton is small but perfectly formed covering just under an acre.

Owners Kevin and Caroline Critchlow have embraced challenging horticultural conditions – a coastal climate and windy, northerly location – to create a walled and sculpture-filled garden packed with perennial plants.

Caroline is gardening guru for BBC Radio Orkney. Currently under development is what the couple hope will be the national collection of Orkney geraniums.

Tours are available by appointment. The next Orkney Garden Festival is July 4 to 14, 2019.




Architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh and national bard Rabbie Burns were both fans.

Where to see: Cambo Gardens; Carolside House and Gardens; Drum Castle, Banchory, Aberdeenshire; and Wemyss Castle.


Beautiful or blight on our countryside? Rhododendrons are a bit of a political hot potato.

Conservationists are calling for an increase in spending to eradicate wild rhododendrons due to the threat they pose to native woodlands.

Lovers of the bloom argue that it would be a shame to see them disappear. Where do you stand in the debate? Email us at

Where to see: Ardkinglas Woodland Garden; Benmore Botanic Garden; Dunvegan Castle and Gardens on Skye; Glendoick Gardens, Perth; Gordon Castle, Fochabers, Morayshire; Inverewe Garden and Estate; and Logan Botanic Garden.

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Scone Palace, Perthshire

There is always something glorious to see in Scone Palace gardens from snowdrops and daffodils in spring to primulas and bluebells in the woodlands during April and May.

In early summer the Laburnum Walkway comes alive with bright yellow flowers, and there's colourful rhododendrons and azaleas throughout.



Laura Cohen is a horticulture and soil lecturer at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. Here she shares her expertise on different soil types and gives some recommendations.

"Scotland has a patchwork of different soil types but there are some general patterns," says Cohen. "Soils can vary over a very short space, so it is worth testing the soil in a few different spots in your garden.

"Southern uplands are a mix of loam to sandy loam. The central belt is a mix of clayey loam to sandy loam with pockets of peat.

"The eastern side of the country is a patchwork of loam, sandy loams and clayey loams with some areas of silty loams around the Tay and Carse of Forth.

"The Highlands and Islands are a mix of sands and sandy loams with large areas of peats in Caithness and Sutherland, the Outer Hebrides, Skye and Shetland. Some pockets of clayey and silty loams too.

"Acid soil is found throughout Scotland, with neutral to slightly acidic soils more in the east and increasingly acid to the west and in the highlands and islands.

"As for alkaline soils, they're rare in Scotland but there are wee pockets of alkaline soils in the east."

Laura's plant recommendations

Sandy loam

Good for: Mediterranean climate or coastal type plants such as Argyrocytisus battandieri (Moroccan broom) and lavender. Mediterranean type plants should ideally be placed in a warm south facing spot. Other plants include Armeria maritima (Sea thrift) and Echium vulgare (Viper's bugloss)

Avoid: Plants that require moist soils such as Hosta, Astilbe and rushes.

Clayey loam

Good for: Strong rooted perennial plants such as roses, Populus tremula (Quaking aspen) and the Japanese quince Chaenomeles x superba "Crimson and Gold".

Avoid: Mediterranean types as the roots will not appreciate sitting wet.


Good for: Ericaceous plants, such as heathers, blueberries and rhododendrons. Other plants are camellias, Gentiana sino-ornata and Desfontainia spinosa.

Avoid: Plants that thrive on alkaline soils.


Good for: Plants that thrive on chalky and limestone soils. Briza media (Quaking grass) and Pulsatilla vulgaris, Dianthus species and cultivars and Gentiana lutea.

Avoid: Ericaceous plants, they will struggle in these soils and the foliage will turn an unappealing yellow.


Good for: Again, many Ericaceous plants will thrive in Peat soils. Trilliums and meconopsis.

Avoid: Plants that require free draining soil or alkaline soil.

Laura's top tips

Download the free British Geological Society mySoil app. You can click on your location and find out about the texture and pH of soil in your area. Visit

Sign up to the Earthworm Watch citizen science project and they will send you a kit to find out the texture and pH of your soil as well as assess its colour while surveying earthworm types and numbers.


For more information, visit


Traquair House Garden, Innerleithen, Peeblesshire

Woodlands, wildlife and a walled garden best sum up the delightful grounds at Traquair House. Lady Louisa's walk takes you past the Quair water towards the River Tweed.




Lucy Mackenzie Panizzon from Lip na Cloiche on Mull – home to an eclectic collection of small trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants, including Chilean and New Zealand rarities – shares some favourites which can be seen in her own garden and nursery.

"Normally, being on the north-west coast of an island off the north-west of Scotland, we have very mild winters and have been virtually frost free for the last six or seven years," she says.

"However, this year, after a generally "cold" winter, we went as low as minus -5C in early spring and that saw off quite a lot of tender plants."

Echium Pininana

"Without doubt the most commented-on plant. It usually does brilliantly and self-sows with cheerful abundance, but most were killed off this winter.

"I consider myself lucky in that about six echium survived and are now flowering spectacularly; I have had visitors from Cornwall who told me that theirs all died."

Tibouchina Urvilleana

"The most sumptuous purple flowers in late summer-autumn, this usually winters out of doors in a sheltered spot here."

Callistemon Rigidus (Scarlet Bottlebrush)

"I have a row in the most exposed area, at the top of the hill. They came through the winter unscathed and are getting ready to flower."

Metrosideros Umbellata (Southern Rata)

"Another bottlebrush from New Zealand: it has yet to flower but I love the foilage which assumes attractive russet tints in summer."

Melianthus Major

"Lovely foliage plant with glaucous leaves."

Correa Mannii

"Attractive dangling scarlet flowers most of winter through to summer: happy out-of-doors in a container."

Lobelia Tupa

"Perennial with tall, exotic crimson flowers in summer."

Myoporum laetum

"Evergreen shrub with attractively-marked foliage and white flowers: suffered a bit in the frost but has recovered well."

Corokia buddlejoides

"Medium evergreen shrub with attractive silver foliage and masses of yellow flowers now."

Coprosma Gold Splash

"Medium evergreen with gold foliage. It has done extremely well up until this last winter when the side most exposed to the cold winds was badly burnt: I've cut it back and hope it recovers."



Visitor facilities

If you like your visits with a slab of cake or jam-slathered scone, then pop by the Secret Herb Garden at the foot of the Pentlands in Edinburgh.

Glendoick Garden Centre in Perth, which is run by renowned plant hunter Kenneth Cox and his wife Jane, has an excellent cafe which does delicious breakfasts, soups and home baking.

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The scourge of any garden. Dandelions can be particularly persistent and digging them out at the roots can feel akin to being Professor Otto Lidenbrock journeying to the centre of the earth.

Walled gardens

Nothing beats the romance of a walled garden. These horticultural havens have their own microclimates thanks to being shielded from the worst ravages of inclement weather.

Where to see: Applecross Walled Garden, Strathcarron; Crathes Castle Gardens; Gordon Castle; Pitmedden Garden, Ellon, Aberdeenshire; Redhall Walled Garden, Edinburgh; and Teasses Gardens, near Ceres, Fife.



A garden walk planted with trees. Hopefully you've found plenty of inspiration so far.



Ah, the reward of harvesting a bounty of fresh fruit and vegetables from the garden. Hungry yet?


Zen Garden, St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art, Glasgow

Britain's first permanent Zen garden, the raked gravel, rocks and moss are said to represent the sea, mountains and the earth respectively. A perfect spot to pause for reflection.