Top 10 National Trust for Scotland gardens to visit

We take a look at some of the best National Trust for Scotland gardens to visit. 



Arduaine Garden, Oban

For those who love rhododendrons, this garden is for you. Created in 1898, Arduaine Garden nurtures plants from all across the world, and does so to this day thanks to the help of both Mother Nature and the warming benefits of the Atlantic Drift. This lends itself to have a larger array of plants than usual in this part of the world. The garden lies on the rocky promontory at the head of the Sound of Jura, where there is a secret path to the coastal viewpoint. Arduaine is also a haven for wildlife, and so you can look out to sea for seals and porpoises or look up to spot a kestrel. This garden truly offers it all, regardless of season.


Branklyn Garden, Perth

The lush greens of the summer months are transformed to rich hues of ochre and amber foliage when autumn emerges in this Perthshire garden. Nonetheless, some flowers remain in bloom such as persicaria, hydrangeas and toad lilies, battling the reds of the rest of the garden. As you walk through these grounds, the air is sweetened by the turning leaves of the Katsura tree; a blend of burnt sugar and sweet caramel. You can sit and enjoy the nature in the rock garden on the top terrace, sloping down to the pond. An autumn day in these gardens is truly something else, and if the sun comes out, you can see the light dancing upon the crimson foliage like little flames. It truly captures the essence of autumn.


Brodick Castle, Isle of Arran

A castle of this magnitude and grandeur is only deserving of such gardens to match. Dramatically set against the backdrop of the Goat Fell Mountain on the Isle of Arran, Brodick Castle has stunning views over the eponymous bay to the Firth of Clyde. There is plenty to explore outdoors, any time of the year, in Britain’s only island country park. Wander through the formal gardens on the Silver Garden Trail and Plant Hunters’ Walk or dare to venture further to explore the many ponds, waterfalls and woodland trails. You can look for fairies on the Fairies and Legends Trail, which adds just that little bit of extra magic to this already ethereal location.


Crarae Garden, Inveraray

Set beside the banks of Loch Fyne, this garden is described as a ‘living horticultural museum of Edwardian tastes’. The garden was created in 1912 by Lady Grace Campbell, the aunt of the famous plant-hunter Reginald Farrer, who sourced trees all across East Asia. This lends itself to the exotic nature of the garden, created at a time when curiosity of foreign travel was at its peak. To this day, you can explore the tranquil wooden garden with Himalayan plants and tumbling waterfalls, and this splash of tropical wilderness in a glen of the gentle hills of Argyll allows for escapism in the otherwise potentially dreary months of autumn.


Threave Garden and Nature Reserve, Castle Douglas

Threave Garden

Here you can enjoy breathtaking views over the Galloway Hills, where you should keep an eye out for birds of prey such as ospreys, red kites and peregrine falcons soaring over the wetlands reserve. The garden itself is split into a series of smaller gardens in order to display different styles by incorporating a rose garden, rockery and a walled garden. Especially in the colder months, you can find a range of cacti and orchids, as well as koi carp in their special indoor pool, in the display glasshouse which was based off of the original Victorian glasshouse. Upon crossing the oriental bridge, you enter the rock garden and the formal garden, with a range of Victorian games for everyone to enjoy. And with autumn approaching, prepare for the Halloween trail – a great way to also explore the garden at this time of year.


Falkland Palace and Garden, Fife

This palace is one of the finest examples of Renaissance architecture that still stands to this day in Scotland. With an extensive formal garden and one of Britain’s oldest tennis courts, it is no surprise this was a favourite location amongst royals. To appreciate the garden in autumn, take a stroll through the grounds and explore the orchard. You cross the Maspie Burn as it flows down the hill and passes through the decorative gates to visit the orchard, which is filled with willow beds that are harvested each year for use in the garden and community. The willows are also used to create a ‘living willow labyrinth’ for visitors to explore, inspired by the labyrinth design in Chartres Cathedral. After working through the maze, take time to sit on one of the picnic benches to appreciate the serenity autumn brings to this estate.


Inverewe, Wester Ross

This is the everlasting story of a father and daughter who endeavoured to create a loch-side garden amid barren wilderness on the Atlantic coast. And thanks to its location, Inverewe benefits from the effects of the Gulf Stream, allowing for plants from all over the globe to thrive here. Throughout the year, there is a chance to spot Scotland’s big five; red squirrel, red deer, otter, seal and golden eagle. What makes this garden unique is the huge California redwoods that tower over you as you explore the network of paths through the grounds, and hopefully spot a red squirrel or two.


Kellie Castle and Garden, Fife

From the original tower being built in the 1360s, Kellie Castle has withstood the test of time. By wandering along the charming woodland path, you can follow the burn upstream and once you are over the bridge, you can relax in the meadow. This serene autumnal nature walk allows you to witness the reddening of the leaves of the surrounding burnt-orange foliage. The walled garden at Kellie is filled with fruit, flowers and vegetables entirely cultivated using only organic methods. You can then treat yourself by taking a piece of Kellie home with you, whether to incorporate into your own garden or your dinner, visit the garden bothy where you can buy a variety of plants and an array of fresh produce depending on the season.


Newhailes House and Gardens, East Lothian

Being one of the most impressive seventeenth-century Palladian style country houses, it is only fitting that Newhailes House has the grounds to match. The estate is widely regarded as one of the most prominent historical fixtures in the Scottish Enlightenment, and also offers amazing views across the River Forth. You can enjoy peaceful walks in the eighty-six acres of tranquil grounds, hearing only birdsong. For keen birdwatchers, there are over sixty different species of birds found here, including bullfinches, chaffinches and nuthatches. Not only is the building itself vastly historic, but the evergreen oaks were the first ever to be planted in Scotland, over three-hundred years ago; and people are still enjoying these gardens to this day.


Pitmedden Garden, Aberdeenshire

The Great Garden at Pitmedden dates back to 1675, and it was heavily influenced by the gardens at Vaux-le-Vicomte and the Palace of Versailles. It includes almost six miles of clipped hedging, decadent sculptures, with intricate parterres comprised of over thirty-thousand annual bedding plants which creates many fascinating desisns in the area. Most notably though is the orchard, which comes alive during the autumn. There are over two hundred fruit trees here, as well as nuts, soft fruit and rhubarb. Ornamental pleached trees, ancient apple trees surrounding the walls, and obelisk yews all add to the grandeur of the garden. A lot of the damsons and morello cherries are made into jam and preserves, but the Pitmedden Garden aspire to eventually produce their own. It is worth noting that their Apple Sunday in late September is always a popular date in the calendar!

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