Geilston, Garden Main Road, Cardross, Dumbarton, G82 5HD

Tucked away on the edge of Cardross is an enchanting small estate that’s filled with surprises. It sits at the end of a tree-lined drive and, despite covering just 10 acres, it manages to have hidden spaces and quiet places that often take more than one visit to discover.

At its heart is a walled garden that surrounds the house on two sides. This was built in 1797 and it is dominated by a huge Wellingtonia that occupies an area of smooth lawn. There are clipped hedges, roses around the walls and an herbaceous border that stretches for 40m.

New growth is appearing in this border every day and by late spring the first wave of flowers will open, followed by a succession of colour that will last until autumn.

Set along one side of the garden is a range of heritage Mackenzie & Moncur greenhouses, complete with the wrought iron floor grills and heating pipes that have been warming seedlings and hothouse plants for more than a century. They still perform this function today, helping to raise new plants for the garden.


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Built into the wall next to the glasshouses is a potting shed with a window that opens onto a secret glade, where, at the moment, cherry blossom trees are opening along the banks of the Geilston Burn and the grass is spangled with primroses, wood anemones and other spring flowers. These will be followed by irises and other marginal plants that enjoy the damp conditions.

Venture into this glade, which is filled with birdsong, and you’ll find paths cut through the long grass that lead to woodland underplanted with rhododendrons and deciduous azaleas that are at their best in April and May.

A short distance away is another of Geilston’s surprises, this time it is a huge and productive vegetable garden that’s surrounded by a mature beech hedge. As the season progresses, the garden fills up with tasty produce including rhubarb, potatoes, salads and a large variety of soft fruits that are grown in cages.

An orchard occupies one side of this space and here the grass beneath the trees is allowed to grow long during the summer months in order to encourage pollinating insects into the garden.

At the centre is a large dipping pond which still continues to provide water to irrigate the crops, while during the summer months ripe produce is sold from a stall at the gate.

The Herald: Geilston Geilston (Image: free)

The hidden features at Geilston make this a favourite garden for children and a woodland play area provides additional fun.

Planting By Numbers Geilston is a garden packed with plants, so it seems a tall order to ask anyone to count them, however that’s what’s been happening not just here but at all 39 gardens cared for by the National Trust for Scotland.

For the last two years, teams of horticulturalists have been visiting the properties and working with their gardeners to identify every single kind of plant that each one contains. Now, with more than 61,000 already catalogued, the teams will spend the rest of this year in visiting all remaining gardens, including Kellie Castle, Hill of Tarvit and also Brodick Castle on Arran.

By the time they are finished it is expected that the total will have risen to more than 100,000 plants and that the NTS will have amassed a wealth of valuable information about what grows where.

Already the survey has unearthed some surprises, including a single Primula ‘Inverewe’, which previously was believed to have been lost from the garden which gave it its name. That plant is now being carefully looked after and will be used for propagation so that its numbers can be increased.

The overall data will be used to help the NTS understand which plants are thriving, which are under threat and how best to combat climate change by determining what it should be planting in the years ahead.


Geilston Garden is open daily, 10am - 5pm Tickets: £8.50/££6.50/£1 (Young Scot) Geilston Garden sits off the A814 at the west end of Cardross.

In association with Discover Scottish Gardens