Bonnie Scotland begins to bloom again...

Bonnie Scotland begins to bloom again…

Scotland’s Gardens Scheme shrugs off winter with the Scottish Snowdrop Festival, which launched last weekend and runs until March 11.

Families, wildlife lovers, plantaholics and grow-your-own newbies are in for a treat during 2018 when more than 450 gardens will open to the public for Scotland’s Gardens Scheme to raise money for charity.

Gardens of all sizes across the country, in cities and villages, on islands and lochs, will have their gates unlatched to welcome visitors over the year, including 57 opening for the first time, 122 walled gardens, 33 urban gardens, 10 community gardens, five allotment societies and 61 gardens belonging to stately homes.

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Above: Dunvorist Cottage Garden, Angus. Top: 2 Durnamuck, Ross, Cromarty, Skye, Inverness

With 2018 celebrating the Year of Young People, Scotland’s Gardens Scheme will be teaming up with the Scottish International Story Telling Festival during May and October to offer interactive ‘Growing Stories’ events in six gardens including Fingask in Perthshire with its Alice in Wonderland-style topiary. Other children’s activities include a Gruffalo Trail at Ardkinglas Woodland Garden, poetry at Glen House in Peebleshire, duck races at Highwood in Renfrewshire, a woodland dell with fairies at Skye’s Balmeanach House, fairy doors at Culter Allers in Lanarkshire and Netherthird in Ayrshire, and willow crown making at Cambo near Fife. Entry is free for children at all privately owned gardens opening for the scheme.

Gardens boasting red squirrels and orange tip butterflies should be popular with wildlife lovers, whilst visitors can pick up tips on deer-proof planting and composting, as well as organic and biodynamic gardening. Merchinston Cottage in Edinburgh will be buzzing with talks on beekeeping and visitors to Priorwood in Peebleshire can learn the traditional skill of flower drying.

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Gardening newbies can quiz owners on creating gardens from scratch or how to grow exotics in the Scottish climate, and plant connoisseurs can treat themselves to 18 national plant collections and 22 gardens with champion trees. And, importantly for many, 220 will offer plants for sale and 298 a welcome cuppa!

Many of the gardens opening under the Scotland’s Garden Scheme banner are private, so not normally open to visitors. Around 250 local and national charities are supported by the scheme with more than £1 million raised for charity over the last five years. Other 2018 highlights include:

· A NEW Fife Spring Trail with 12 gardens opening in April and May.

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· A total of 24 openings for the Scottish Snowdrop Festival from January 27 to March 11.

· Eight NEW groups and five NEW villages including the historic village of Coldstream in Berwickshire.

· The Japanese Garden at Cowden in Stirling – see this restoration project in its early stages.

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Above: Crofts, Kirkcudbrightshire

· New gardens include Dalbeattie allotments in Kirkcudbrightshire; Viewpark Allotments in Lanarkshire; Edinburgh – open gardens of the Lower New Town and Belgrave Crescent Gardens; Villages – Newburgh in Fife, Brechin in Angus, Kippen Village in Stirling and Kiltarlity Gardens in Inverness

· Fifty-three gardens with historic ‘designed landscapes’ including Temple Village, the headquarters of the Knights Templar 12th-14th centuries or the stunning restoration of Cardinal Beaton’s home in Angus with a medieval themed walled garden.

· 222 dog-friendly gardens and 125 accessible by public transport including Attadale with its own train station.

· A new-look Scotland’s Gardens Scheme website at www.scotlandsgardens.org and guidebook.

Above: Holmes Farm, Ayrshire

Terrill Dobson, national organiser for Scotland’s Gardens Scheme, said: “Scotland has some amazing gardens and I encourage as many people as possible to get out and explore them. You can pick up some growing tips, learn a new craft or simply spend a relaxing hour or two taking in the sights. You’ll also be raising money for worthwhile charities.”

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Steve Ott

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