Glenarn, Glenarn Road, Rhu, Helensburgh, G84 8LL

Glenarn is a private garden in Rhu which was largely created and made famous by the Gibson family for its collection of rhododendrons from 1927 onwards. The garden lies on a favoured site on the hillside above the Gareloch, with a glen running its length, providing shelter for large-leaved and tender rhododendrons. Using the original Victorian layout, the Gibson brothers planted rhododendrons raised from seed that was flooding into the country by plant hunters from the Himalayas and China, as well as a wide variety of plants that thrive on the west coast.

This year, tall Asiatic magnolias are flowering

on bare branches, creating bonfires of light, along with large-leaved rhododendron species and hybrids. This provides a colourful backdrop, with narcissus and other early bulbs carpeting the ground. A highlight throughout the year is the rock garden, which was created in the 1930s from the old quarry and natural rock outcrops, providing a range of habitats for many dwarf rhododendrons, as well as tree peonies, meconopsis, primulas and other treasures.

In the summer, other ericaceous plants add variety and colour, including embothriums, crinodendrons and acers, with hoherias and euchryphias, flowering until late September. Roses also ramble through the trees alongside the climbing hydrangeas. Mike and Sue Thornley bought Glenarn in 1983 and have been restoring the garden and extending its collections.

Glenarn is a member of the Glorious Gardens of Argyll and Bute and Discover Scottish Gardens, Scotland’s garden tourism group.

Phone: 01436 820493

Opening times: Open every day, from dawn until dusk, until 21 September.

Admission costs: Adults: £5; children under 16: free; concessions: £5