Scot­land’s gar­den route

The Rhins, Gal­loway

Countryfile Magazine - - Contents -

Thanks Stream, to Scot­land’s the Gulf south-west corner is dis­tinctly warmer than you might ex­pect. Its plethora of gar­dens are linked by a net­work of quiet lanes – a treat for walk­ers, cy­clists and driv­ers alike.

Rhodo­den­drons are a com­mon fea­ture of Scot­land’s Gar­den Route, putting on su­perb dis­plays in spring and sum­mer. But it’s the ex­otics – South­ern Hemi­sphere plants that thrive in this mild mi­cro­cli­mate – that re­ally catch the eye. A num­ber of the gar­dens have cafes, and if the heady bou­quet threat­ens to over­whelm, you can al­ways es­cape to the clifftop light­house and café at the Mull of Gal­loway, Scot­land’s most southerly point.

AN AMAZ­ING MAZE

Head to the pretty har­bour­side vil­lage of Port­patrick and to Dunskey Gar­dens (open by ap­point­ment), which holds col­lec­tions of exotic flow­er­ing shrubs such as Clianthus and Suther­lan­dia. Snow­drops emerge in spring and scented roses in sum­mer, while year­round in­ter­est – much to the de­light of the kids – is pro­vided by the Dunskey Hedge Maze. The labyrinth, planted in 2003 with New Zealand broadleaf, was based on the fa­mous maze at Hamp­ton Court in Lon­don.

LOFTY TREES

The Vic­to­rian wood­land gar­den at Lo­gan House is the place to go for all things ar­bo­real. Come spring, ‘40 shades of green’ flour­ish in trees from around the world, in­clud­ing seven UK and 14 Scot­tish cham­pi­ons. Pop­u­lar all year is the ma­jes­tic Mon­key Puz­zle Av­enue.

TROPIC OF SCOT­LAND

Some 400 sway­ing cab­bage palms line the ap­proach to Lo­gan Botanic Gar­dens, set­ting the tone for a plants­man’s par­adise, bur­geon­ing with botan­i­cal trea­sures from the Amer­i­cas, Australasia and South­ern Africa (and also known as the lo­ca­tion of Lord Sum­merisle’s gar­den in cult film The Wick­er­man). Pass the white-painted Gal­loway cot­tage to reach the UK’s first ‘all green’ pub­lic con­ser­va­tory, in which con­di­tions are ideal for plants rarely seen in UK col­lec­tions, such as proteas and banksias.

Out­side, wan­der around the walled gar­den – com­plete with a pond burst­ing with Koi carp – or take a stroll through the Aus­tralasian wood­land. Lo­gan’s wealth of exotic trees and shrubs, in­clud­ing over 50 species of eu­ca­lyp­tus, en­sures that there is some­thing of in­ter­est all year round, with a par­tic­u­lar ex­u­ber­ance from

June to Au­gust: aga­pan­thus, Aus­tralian bot­tle­brush and daisies from the Canary Is­lands are all here.

4 RO­MAN­TIC RU­INS

Cas­tle Kennedy Gar­dens were orig­i­nally laid out in 1730, spread over 75 stun­ning acres around a dreamy ru­ined cas­tle on an isth­mus be­tween two nat­u­ral lochs. Cham­pion trees, a vast lily pond and one of the best Vic­to­rian wood­land gar­dens in Bri­tain are all here, but the real treat is one of the finest rhodo­den­dron col­lec­tions in the UK, at its best in May and June.

5 NEW KID ON THE BLOCK

Es­tab­lished just 40 years ago,

Glen­whan Gar­dens are an un­ex­pected gem, cre­ated from a bracken-clad hill­side 300 feet above sea level with stun­ning views out over Luce Bay. Aza­leas, prim­u­las and camel­lias all flour­ish, as do mag­no­lias in spring and a pro­fu­sion of bud­dleia in au­tumn, at­tract­ing a mass of pea­cock but­ter­flies. There are also 17 acres of moor­land with over 120 species of wild­flow­ers and grasses – best ex­plored on foot – not to men­tion the po­tager and herb gar­den that sup­ply the tea room with fresh pro­duce.

6 COM­MU­NITY SPIRIT

To­wards the north of the Rhins, vol­un­teer-led Al­douran Wet­land Gar­den is an­other good spot for the kids, with a sen­sory gar­den, wildlife ponds and wood­land walk adorned with fairy doors at the base of the trees. There’s also a well­sited hide from which red squir­rels and even the oc­ca­sional hoopoe might be spot­ted.

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Don­ald Greig (left) and Dar­ren Flint (right) are the au­thors of the guide­book Dum­fries and Gal­loway.

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