The first signs of true spring are now visible after the wettest February anyone in Rhu can remember. With several budding rhododendrons and lush spring bulbs covering the grounds, the garden has begun to bid farewell to the snowdrops until next year. 2019 was a brilliant flowering season for rhododendrons at Glenarn Gardens.

This year the magnolias are promising to be exceptional, with many fully budded and beginning to discard their perules – the protective flowerbud wrappers. Glenarn Gardens opens for the season on March 21 and there will be plenty to see. Many of the magnolias are huge trees and in early spring these flower before the leaves unfurl, creating luminous bonfires against the sky; in contrast to the paler shades, the shocking pink of M sprengeri “Diva”.

Glenarn is lucky to have few late frosts. The magnolias bloom in sequence through April with other smaller members of the genus

flowering in May and June. The early lenten narcissus now carpet the ground and tiny N cyclamineus appear in wetter areas with dramatically

swept-back petals. In the Rock Garden erythroniums, diminutive members of the lily family, appear with strange mottled leaves.

Visitors will find delight as they wind through the beautifully landscape of the garden, weaving them in, around and under the fantastic collection of rhododendrons and magnolias through the glen up to the Hens garden.

The woodland garden at Glenarn was created by the Gibson brothers, who lived there from 1920s to 1970s, laid out on top of the original Victorian structure. Mike and Sue Thornley have conserved and developed the garden over the past 37 years.

This is one garden not to be missed during the Scottish Rhododendron and Bluebell Festival.

Visitors of all ages will find wonder and beauty at every turn in the garden, creating a memorable day out.


Telephone: 01436 820493

Opening times: Garden open daily, March 21 to September 21, dawn to dusk.

Admission costs: £5.00 (accompanied children under 16 free)

Garden of the Week is in association with Discover Scottish Gardens. For more information, advice and day-out ideas, visit