Glenwhan Gardens & Arboretum, Dunragit, by Stranraer, DG9 8PH

Glenwhan is one of Scotland’s most exciting gardens. It has been created by Tessa Knott Sinclair whose vision has transformed 100 acres of rough farmland, which had been designated for forestry, into a haven for plants and wildlife.

When Tessa first arrived there was nothing but gorse and bracken, but she could see the potential of the site, so she set to work, adding hundreds of trees and planting huge numbers of hybrid rhododendrons to act as a windbreak. Once this shelterbelt began to grow she then began to add plants from the Southern Hemisphere and tender species including Rhododendron roxieanum from China and Rhododendron yakushimanum from Japan.

Galloway’s mild climate provided ideal growing conditions and in the space of 40 years Glenwhan has matured into a spectacular garden, which in spring is filled with the vivid colours of thousands of flowering shrubs.


Recent warm summers have led to a profusion of rhododendrons

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When Tessa first arrived she found that water seeping from an old reservoir on the moor had created a damp area at the centre of the garden so she had this boggy area excavated to make two huge ponds and she also set out a spectacular water garden where irises, rodgersias, candelabra primulas and other moisture-loving plants now flourish.

The results are spectacular and so too is the setting, with expansive views over the Mull of Galloway towards the Isle of Man and paths that lead up onto a 17-acre stretch of moorland, where the combination of yellow gorse and bluebells make a striking combination and snipe hide in the long grass.

Because of the range of habitats, wildlife abounds here and the garden continues to develop. Tessa’s husband, Ian, who previously worked for the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and at Benmore, has recently labelled more than 1,000 plants along a designated tree trail.

The Herald: GlenwhanGlenwhan (Image: free) is filled with unusual plants including a rare weeping form of the Chilean firebush, Embothrium longifolium pendula, which has bright scarlet flowers in June; an Araucaria imbricata, a member of the Monkey Puzzle family; Desfontainia spinosa, a rainforest native from Chile which produces waxy orange flowers and Telopea oreades from Southern Australia has deep crimson flowerheads.

This is a naturalistic garden, where 120 different species of ferns and wildflowers grow amongst the cultivated plants, but there is a decorative potage, lined with box hedging and presided over by a statue of a wild boar - a copy of the famous sculpture that stands in the Mercato Nuovo in Florence.

Visitors who want to immerse themselves in the garden can book accommodation in a beautiful shepherd’s hut, while a tea room provides home made refreshments and there is a small nursery selling plants propagated from stock that grows in the garden.

Details: The garden is open daily 10am - 5pm Tickets: £9/£7/ under 7s free Tel: 07768 002288

In association with Discover Scottish Gardens