FANCY a trip out of the city? Here are five gardens around Scotland that are open for those who want some fresh air and floral colour.

The Japanese Garden at Cowden, near Dollar


In the early years of the 20th century Ella Christie, the first western woman to meet the Dalai Lama, returned from a trip to Japan with the idea of creating her own Japanese garden at her home, Cowden Castle in Dollar.

To do so, in 1908 she hired a female Japanese garden designer Taki Handa to transform seven acres of boggy land in the grounds of Cowden Castle. The resulting garden was once described as the “best garden in the western world” by one Japanese garden design expert.

However, in the years after Christie’s death in 1949 Cowden Castle was demolished and the garden fell into disrepair. It closed to the public in 1955 and was then vandalised in 1963, with stone lanterns and shrines being pushed into the small loch.

But the 21st century has seen its restoration under the aegis of Professor Masao Fukuhara from Osaka University of Arts. To visit it today is to see a garden full of flowering shrubs, azaleas, rhododendrons, syringa and Japanese half double pink cherry trees, all in a setting that strives to be “Shah-rak-uen,” or “a place of pleasure and delight”.

The Japanese Garden Cowden is open seven days a week. For advance tickets and details of Covid restrictions visit

Logan Botanic Garden, near Stranraer

Billed as “Scotland’s most exotic garden,” Logan Botanic Garden in the southwest of Scotland benefits from the warmth of the Gulf Stream, allowing it to grow plants normally found in Australia and New Zealand, South America and southern Africa. It is home to palm trees and eucalyptus groves. It also contains a walled garden (containing a fishpond) and a conservatory.

The garden, which dates back to the 19th century, was gifted to the nation in 1969 and is now one of the regional gardens of the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh.

For opening hours and more information visit

Attadale Gardens, Strathcarron, Wester Ross

Scottish Life magazine called these gardens that surround Attadale House in the West Highlands “Scotland’s Favourite Garden”. First established in the mid-1700s, when the house was built by Donald Matheson, it has evolved over the centuries, surviving the odd war and wild weather, including a devastating storm in 1984 that did huge damage. But it was restored by Nicky Macpherson, a South African painter and wife of the present owner Ewen Macpherson. Over 1000 new trees were planted. Nicky continued to develop the garden until her death in 2018.

Dotted with sculptures, the garden is situated beside Loch Carron and contains a conservatory, kitchen garden, a Japanese garden, fernery, water gardens and “the rhododendron walk”. It is open until the end of October.

For more information visit

Cluny House Gardens, Aberfeldy


It’s got red squirrels. That’s reason enough to visit, but, if you want more, there are also a couple of Wellingtonia trees that are more than 150 years old (one of which measures 11 metres in girth), Tibetan cherry trees, Japanese maples, lilies and blue poppies. The garden is visited by a wide range of birds. And did we mention the red squirrels?

For more information visit

Kailzie Gardens, near Peebles

At 700ft above sea level on the south bank of the River Tweed, Kailzie Gardens, which face north and east, are no stranger to frosts. And not just in winter. That has meant only the hardiest plants survive in this corner of Scotland. Still, the garden created by Angela Lady Buchan-Hepburn, is home to shrubs and a wide variety of roses. With a walled garden (open until the end of October), a wild garden and greenhouses, there is no shortage of colour here. And there’s also the chance to watch ospreys in the Tweed valley via the Osprey Watch cameras trained on their nest.

The gardens are closed on Mondays, but otherwise open all year round.

For more information visit