Dumfries House Cumnock Ayrshire KA18 2NJ

Daffodil season is here and across the country these cheerful flowers are trumpeting the arrival of spring. Nowhere is this blossoming more eagerly anticipated than at Dumfries House where these familiar bulbs have been used to spectacular effect.

Following the restoration of the category-A listed Temple Gate on the north side of the estate, 500,000 daffodil bulbs were planted along both sides of a tree-lined grassy ride and over the last week the first flowers have started to open, creating a spectacular ribbon of colour.

Every year the bulbs spread and multiply, with the mixture of varieties providing a long season of interest and ensuring that the show continues right through until the end of April.

Dumfries House is one of Scotland’s most exciting gardens and it is continually reinventing itself, improving on already-outstanding features and adding fresh ones so that the garden changes all the time.

Over the last few years an understory of shrubs has been added to the arboretum and as the young trees continue to grow and mature this second layer is providing added texture and colour. Along with this, a new grass maintenance regime is creating longer areas of sward where wildflowers can flourish.

The biggest change in recent years however comes in The Queen Elizabeth Walled Garden where a new rose bed has been planted using varieties of rose chosen by the King.


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This area has been sponsored by high end French jewellery company, Van Cleef & Arpels and in summer the brilliant colours of the roses sparkle like jewels. The individual bushes have just been pruned and mulched in order to ensure strong growth and good bud development.

Mulch is produced on-site at Dumfries House home farm and this is also spread thickly on beds in the vegetable garden, where sowing will soon start on this year’s carrots, lettuce, beetroots and other crops.

The beds are divided up by espaliered fruit trees grown along wires, which not only produce a healthy crop, but which in spring are spangled with blossom, while the first stalks of rhubarb, grown under terracotta forcing pots, are already ripe for picking.

The Rothesay Garden, which is located closer to the entrance gate, is the place to find early spring perennials. Despite being a shady area, agapanthus flourish here in summer and later still the flat heads of sedums prove to be a magnet for Red Admiral butterflies that settle on the flowers in large numbers.

Before that happens however, the woodlands across the estate will be covered in spring ephemerals as the first leaves on the trees start to unfurl.

More Beautiful Blooms

Scotland has the perfect climate for daffodils and it has a unique place in the heritage of the flower as many of the horticultural world’s most famous varieties were bred here by dedicated enthusiasts. Today you can discover collections of some of the rarest and most sought-after varieties; walk through fields of scented daffodils; get up close to perfectly-grown specimens at a spring bulb show or simply enjoy the spectacle of hundreds of thousands of blooms glowing in the sunshine.

One of the best places to discover more is at Scotland’s Daffodil Festival, which will take place at the Backhouse Rossie Estate in Cupar on Saturday, 13 and Sunday, 14 April. Backhouse Rossie is home to some of the very first cultivars that were created from wild daffodils and during the festival the gardens, woodland and rustic barn will host family activities, vintage fete stalls, food and drink and daffodil sales by specialist nurseries.

The Caley (Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society) will be holding its spring bulb show at Saughton Park in Edinburgh on Saturday, 6 and Sunday, 7 April, with both beginners and expert gardeners showing off their prowess at growing daffodils and other spring flowers.

There are more historic blooms to be discovered at Brodie Castle near Forres where the efforts of Major Ian Brodie made this a centre for daffodil breeding during the early part of the 20th century and at Ballindalloch Castle visitors are greeted by a two-mile long stream of daffodils while Meanwhile, on a south-facing bank beneath the mansionhouse at Threave in Castle Douglas, more than 360 varieties of daffodils are turning their trumpets towards the sun. Every year the bulbs increase in number, transforming even more of this 64 acre garden into an unmissable spectacle.

Dumfries House is open daily, dawn to dusk. Entry to the estate is free.

Tel: 01290 425959 www.dumfries-house.org.uk Dumfries House is situated on the A70, two miles west of Cumnock.

In association with Discover Scottish Gardens www.discoverscottishgardens.org