The Sunday Post (Inverness)

With Agnes Stevenson

It’s the season of fresh starts and, in the spirit of renewal and rejuvenati­on, Agnes Stevenson celebrates the best of the Spring Flower Festival

- discoversc­ottishgard­

April is the month when the seasons finally shift and, right on cue, the first of the blossom is starting to unfold. Every day now brings something new and I love to watch as the first red stems of peonies and pale green shoots that will eventually become agapanthus­es make a tentative appearance.

Spring is a spectacle that advances in waves and ripples, where magnolias follow on from camellias and flowering currant gives way to flowering cherries. Look carefully and you can see the first flush of green appear on hawthorn and the buds on azaleas swell in readiness for their performanc­e.

To mark the season, the first ever Spring Flower Festival is now under way and from now until the end of May gardens across the country will be welcoming in visitors and hosting virtual events. Among those taking part will be Glenwhan near Stranraer where, on Wednesday and again on May 7, owner Tessa Knott will be leading guided tours through this astonishin­g garden. Created from bare hillside overlookin­g the Solway Firth, Glenwhan contains a huge collection of rare trees and rhododendr­ons, set around a huge lake that Tessa had dredged from the bare soil.

If the “stay local” rule is relaxed as anticipate­d at the end of April then very soon we will all be able to travel to enjoy places like these. Meanwhile New Hopetoun Gardens are currently sharing their expertise through Friday Facebook sessions where they will be giving advice and showing the latest spring arrivals at the garden well as welcoming in actual visitors, Cambo House near St Andrews is offering regular virtual walks through its greenhouse­s and cut flower borders while at Armadale Castle on Skye there will be live guided tours and children’s flower trails.

At Cluny House in Perthshire there’s the chance to walk though woodland gardens filled with blue Himalayan poppies and brightly coloured Candelabra primulas while sheets of bluebells and vivid rhododendr­ons await at Ardkinglas in Argyll. Or if you want to savour spring in every sense, then why not join Craig Cameron, head gardener at Teasses in Fife, for a foraging walk where Craig will be revealing the wild larder that’s popping up among the fresh, spring growth.

Take a walk with the ranger at Abbotsford near Melrose, and join in the celebratio­n of bulbs and blossom within the restored walled garden at Gordon Castle in Fochabers.

Catherine Erskine, chair, Discover Scottish Gardens, who are launching the festival, says:“spring is always uplifting, but it has taken on special significan­ce this year.we want people to enjoy the sense of life beginning again.”

 ??  ?? ● Beautiful Glenwhan Gardens, near Stranraer, which features in the first Spring Flower Festival
● Beautiful Glenwhan Gardens, near Stranraer, which features in the first Spring Flower Festival
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