Welcome to the jungle, the oasis and the butterfly haven. Lovingly nurtured gardens that defy all that Scottish weather can throw at them are opening their gates for all. Sandra Dick takes a peek inside

In a tiny corner of what was once Glasgow’s shipbuilding heartland, bordered by a steel spiked fence and overlooked by a car park, a garden oasis waits to wake from its slumber.

Lovingly created on a derelict site of a former shipyard, the delphiniums, ornamental grasses and gerbera of the Duchess of Montrose Memorial Garden have brightened its small corner of Govan since it opened

last summer.

Normally restricted to a select few visitors, the city garden is tiny compared with the manicured grandeur of Gardyne Castle, 100 miles north in Angus, with its perfectly pruned knot garden, bluebell wood, fishpond and immaculate lawn.

Meanwhile, at the rear of a fairly ordinary semi-detached house in an ordinary street in Ayrshire, there’s an extraordinary garden growing – exotic tree ferns, towering bamboo and feathery palms have turned what was

a bog-standard Scottish back garden with typically crumbling shed and untameable ivy into a mini

tropical jungle.

For gardeners who have not been blessed with a single green finger, these and dozens of other lovingly nurtured and weather-defying gardens are either something to aim for or a reason to just throw in the trowel.

They are among hundreds of gardens up and down the country now being pruned and planted in preparation for Scotland’s Gardens Scheme, an annual showcase which celebrates the often hidden beauty of the nation’s private havens, community allotments and therapeutic school and retirement home gardens.

Many of the 526 gardens taking part are labours of love, growing in defiance of wild Scottish weather and carefully cultivated by gardeners more likely to be found dusting the rose bushes than relaxing on a recliner wondering why the freesias have died.

Around 40% of gardens involved in this year’s scheme feature specially created wildlife areas designed to attract birds, bees, butterflies and bugs – inspiration, the organisers hope, for visitors to encourage biodiversity in their own gardens.

The scheme sees gardens open to visitors at certain times throughout the year or by appointment, and includes 89 which will open for the first time – among them social support charity The Preshal Trust’s Govan garden.

Some seem to defy the odds: at the most northerly garden, Norby at Burnside in Sandness, Shetland, Chinese tree peonies, shrub roses, lilies, hellebores, and grasses from

New Zealand thrive despite the exposed landscape.

And at Leathad Ard, Upper Carloway on Lewis, the owners refused to be deterred by the westerly winds, challenging hillside setting and surrounding peat bog to create a garden of colourful herbaceous borders, exposed beds packed with delicate blooms, fruit orchards, and vegetable patches.

The scheme asks visitors to pay a small fee to visit each garden which then goes towards a range of charities, in return for a look at often hidden back gardens and private woodlands where wildlife thrive, and snowdrops and bluebells carpet the floor.

Visitors who make an appointment to visit 1 Burnton Road in Dalrymple will step from a typical Ayrshire street tino a tropical haven. “The garden was fairly awful when we moved here,” says David Blatchford, who since 2014 has transformed the triangular corner plot into a welcoming jungle.

“Back then it was just a lawn, a gigantic leylandii, ivy and a crumbling shed.”

While that may sound like most Scottish gardens, David and his wife Margaret planned ahead and brought favourite tree ferns and bamboo from their former property to plant.

With the leylandii, ivy and shed gone, they created raised beds to tackle the dearth of topsoil and laid a serpentine path which now meanders through the dense, lush foliage, past giant, glossy leaves and towering palms.

Bonsai and potted terrestrial ferns including rare blechnum species and succulents rest on the patio. Outside, hardy and tender bromeliads and aroids share space with lilies, cannas, gingers and bursts of Mexican

feather grass.

At the front of the garden, dahlias and a Chinese imported buddleia bring bursts of colour and dozens of red admiral butterflies.

“We do have time to sit in the garden and enjoy it,” he adds. “And we do have a washing line – you just don’t see it hidden behind the bamboo.”

Around three hours’ drive away, at Barochreal in Kilninver near Oban, a remarkable 13-year labour of love has seen its hard-working owners, Nigel and Antoinette Mitchell, scrape and shovel scrub grass and old sheep pens into a colourful haven.

The pretty garden which hugs their white-walled, two-storey home buzzes with bees from their hives.

A wild garden and rockery complement a rose garden created from a former sheep fank while raised beds have been made using stone left behind when the old dairy was taken down. Further on, their 27 acres extend to a waterfall and a small glen where 40 species of moth and more than 70 species of wildflowers thrive, including three types of wild orchid, and red squirrels and pine martens make their home.

“It’s slowly evolved,” says Antoinette. “As one thing is done, another comes up. It takes all our energy to keep it going. Whenever there’s nice weather, instead of enjoying it, we’re working in it.”

The garden is so impressive that coach parties often roll in for a look. “They start coming at the end of April. The hardy plant people and the rhododendron people. People staying in various hotels will phone up and ask to come.”

Many gardens have embraced

“wild” elements to boost falling numbers of pollinators.

At Baile Geamhraidh on the island of Lismore in the Inner Hebrides, a biodynamic farm encourages wildflowers, birds, bees and butterflies. Created from a field, the garden reflects the ecclesiastical history of the island, and includes a vegetable garden, a tree nursery, a physic garden and orchard.

It is framed by standing stones, meadows and mountains, while rare breed Shetland horned cattle roam.

Meanwhile, Bruckills Croft in Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, home of award-winning wildlife gardener Helen Rushton, has a butterfly alley, wildflower meadow and pond.

Other gardens have touching stories behind them. Angus’s Garden at Barguillean Farm in Glen Lonan, near Oban, was created as a mother’s tribute to her son who was killed while working in Cyprus in 1956.

Almost 30 gardens will open for snowdrop and winter walks throughout February and March, including

Kailzie Gardens near Peebles and Ecclesgreig Castle outside Montrose, where there are more than 150 varieties of snowdrop.

Over 250 charities will benefit from the scheme, while organisers hope gardens will inspire visitors to incorporate ideas and wildlife features in their own gardens.

Terrill Dobson, national organiser for Scotland’s Gardens Scheme, says: “Our gardens and green spaces are ecosystems that nurture a vast array of biodiversity including insects, butterflies, birds, small animals, earthworms and even beneficial bacteria.

“And these in turn benefit our gardens, through pollination, improved structure and pest control, just to name a few.

“We’re hoping people will walk away inspired by what they’ve seen.”