With its location on Scotland’s south-western tip, Logan Botanic Garden may be further from the traditional tourist trail than its sister establishments at Dawyck, Benmore and Edinburgh – but don’t imagine for a moment that it is in any way impoverished as a result.

Blessed with a near sub-tropical climate thanks to the effects of the North Atlantic Drift, which pushes the Gulf Stream northwards, the garden is home to plants from Australia, New Zealand, South and Central America and southern Africa which would struggle to thrive elsewhere in Scotland. Where else could you stroll through a grove of eucalyptus trees – there are 35 species here in total – or marvel at the huge, rhubarb-like gunnera plants, which come from Brazil and can grow up to three metres in height?

Among the other highlights of the garden’s Living Collection are 150-year-old ferns from New Zealand, vivid, purple-blue flowers known as Pride of Madeira which are native to that temperate Atlantic island and, in the magnificent glass-roofed Logan Conservator, a collection of plants from South Africa which are rarely seen growing in the UK. Elsewhere there’s a Walled Garden which dates from before 1860 and which was originally associated with nearby Logan House. Today it is home to a fishpond and an Antipodean forest.

The garden itself is on land owned for centuries by the McDouall family and the medieval Castle of Balzieland once stood here. It was Agnes McDouall who began collecting plants in 1870, a passion she passed on to her sons Kenneth and Douglas. They expanded the collection in the 1920s and 1930s with plants from expeditions made by leading botanists to China, Tibet, Chile and Tasmania.

In 1969 the garden and surrounding woodland was gifted to the nation. In 2021, two years after it celebrated its 50th anniversary, Logan scooped top spot in a survey by consumer magazine Which? that ranked the best gardens in the UK by criteria such as attractiveness, accessibility, value for money and staff helpfulness.

Each of the three other gardens which make up Scotland’s portfolio of botanic gardens also made it into the top 10. Dawyck was joint second with Coleton Fishacre House and Gardens in Devon, Benmore was fourth and Edinburgh came tenth. Ahead of it, in eighth place, was Inverewe Garden in the north-west Highlands and the top 20 also featured Branklyn Garden near Perth, Threave Garden and Estate (also in Dumfries and Galloway) and Culzean Castle Gardens in Ayrshire.

Richard Baines, curator of Logan Botanic Garden, describes his fiefdom as “paradise” thanks to its warm climate and from the profusion of palm trees about the place you could indeed be forgiven for thinking you had stepped into some tropical Shangri-la. Truly a horticultural gem.