Garden Tours (Scottish, Irish & Welsh)

The Gardens of Scotland 

Meet at Glasgow Airport on the morning of your arrival



Day 1     Arrive Glasgow & transfer to Dumfries

Transatlantic flights arrive early in the morning and en route you will stop at Blairquhan which is an hour from Glasgow Airport before crossing the Galloway Forest Park

Day 2     Visit Charles Jencks’ Garden & others around Dumfries.

Depart Cavens at 9.00 am for the 30 minute transfer to Charles Jencks garden ‘The Garden of Cosmic speculation’. Portrack House Holywood DG2 ORW.  This is one of the most extraordinary gardens I have ever seen and cannot wait to share it with you. We will leave there and carry on to Drumlanrig Castle – A majestic castle owned by the Duke and Duchess of Bueculeuch When I saw it first I was taken by the red sandstone castle and driveway – breath-taking sight.  We will have a light lunch at the tea rooms before our tour of the extensive 40 acre garden.   . Some of the Formal Garden designs, such as the Long Terrace Walk, the Shawl (South Parterre) and East Parterre, date back to the early 17th and 18th centuries, while others, such as West Parterre (or Rose Garden), have been restored using later designs.   Restoration work continues on the original Cascade, once visible from the High Terrace of the Castle but seriously overgrown since its abandonment in the 1830s, while the imposing Victorian Glasshouse and historic Heather Houses remain popular.    Modern day additions are equally impressive and range from the sprawling Woodland Garden to the stunning Rhododendron Collection.

Thereafter we will travel to Dabton, 15 minutes away (arriving at 3 pm) and the private gardens of The Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch.  Depart by 4 pm.

It is an hour from here back to Cavens                  Dinner and overnight back at Cavens

Day 3    


Through The Moffat Hills to Selkirk and Abbotsford, a 2 hour journey to Sir Walter Scott’s quintessential Scottish mansion and gardens developed between 1811 and 1825.

Depart Abbotsford at 12.30 for the 30 minute drive to Mellerstain, an eighteenth century Adam house with a twentieth century Arts and Crafts garden by Sir Reginald Blomfield. It has terraces, a great lawn, stately flights of steps and clipped yews. This leads to a lake and woodland garden.  Lunch in the tea room here

Depart at 2.30 pm you arrive at 3 pm at Lord Palmer’s Manderston, an early twentieth century house with terraced garden and a transition to a lake and a woodland garden which was planted in the 1950s. This is a fabulous garden, the last time I was there he was immersed in the Cricket Test Matches.  The Manderston garden design inspiration was drawn from Robert Adam. The walled garden is vigorously planted.  John Kinross (1855–1931) remodelled the house and designed the garden terraces. When asked about the budget he was told ‘it simply doesn’t matter’. The owner, Sir James Miller (1863-1906) was heir to the Huntley and Palmer biscuit fortune and, having married Lord Curzon’s daughter, aspired to the grandeur of Kedleston Hall. It has an extraordinary milk parlour in white marble which is exquisite and unique

Depart at about 5 pm for the 80 minute to Edinburgh to stay at Channings Hotel.

Dinner at an exclusive private club in the New Town the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.  The only club that boasts both Prince Charles and Madonna as members.

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Day 4        Spend the morning at leisure in Edinburgh. In the afternoon head out to Little Sparta, an hour south of the city, created by artist and poet Ian Hamilton Finlay and his wife Sue Finlay.   The 5-acre (2.0 ha) Arcadian garden includes concrete poetry in sculptural form, polemic, and philosophical aphorisms, together with sculptures and two temples. Altogether it includes over 275 artworks by the artist, created in collaboration with numerous craftsmen and women.

Possible visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens, and time on own to explore Edinburgh

Tonight an unmissable evening of Scottish music, costume, bagpipes, fiddles and dance.

Day 5                                     The Gardens of Dundee and Fife

Depart Edinburgh 9 am and head across the Firth of Forth.  Visit Jenk’s Fife Earth Project at turn off 4 on the M90, and, at about 10.30 am,  to Wemyss Castle – A late 17th century 6 acre walled garden substantially redundant by the early 1990s. Started in 1994 a complete scheme of renewal has been implemented by Charlotte Wemyss with new planting and landscaping concentrating in particular on clematis, roses and ornamental trees; also 15 acre spring garden with magnificent display of erythronium revolutum followed by bluebells and narcissi.

At Noon visit Kellie Castle, a fourteenth century castle and garden, restored in the nineteenth century. The Arts and Crafts garden was designed by Robert Lorrimer in 1880, for his parents. It has gravel and grass paths, box-edged beds, herbaceous borders and old roses.   Lunch in the The Pittenweem Inn, and at 2 pm on to Cambo, a Victorian walled garden laid out around the Cambo burn to supply the house with fruit, flowers and vegetables. There is an ornamental potager, and many rare plants.

Today’s last garden is Falkland Palace.  A ruined sixteenth century royal palace, with a twentieth century garden. The Falkland Palace Garden garden was designed in the 1946, in an Arts and Crafts manner, by Percy Cane. It has mixed borders, yew hedges, a lily pond and an outdoor chess board.

Overnight at The Lands of Loyal


Day 6

Depart at 9.30 to Glamis, 30 minutes away.  It is a large fourteenth/seventeenth century castle with an eighteenth century park and a nineteenth century ‘Italian’ garden. The Glamis Castle garden has yew hedges, herbaceous borders, fountains, gazebos, statues and a sundial. The castle is approached by a mile long avenue, which is at its best when the daffodils are flowering in the spring. There is also a Pinetum with many Native American trees that was created by the 13th Earl in 1870. The River Dean flows through the grounds. The avenue was planted in the eighteenth century as part of a scheme of radiating avenues. The pre-17th century castle had a courtyard which, in the eighteenth century, was ‘swept away and replaced by a baroque setting of courts, sculptures and vistas’.    The garden was described in 1869:  “The garden (which will take some time to complete) is of great

extent, and laid out with much taste. Outside the south wall of the kitchen-garden is the flower-garden, occupying a gentle incline of several acres sloping down to the river Dean. Along the north wall extends one of the finest ranges of hothouses in Scotland, fitted up with every modern improvement. At the back of the north wall is a house for the rather unusual purpose in Scotland of forcing mushrooms. Outside the north-west corner is the dwelling-house of the head gardener. The sculptured stone monument of Cossans—one of the finest specimens of its kind—is to be seen in a field in the neighbourhood of Glamis.”

Another 30 minutes brings us to House of Pitmuies Garden.  It is an eighteenth century house with courtyard, walled garden, rose garden, alpine meadow, woodland garden and riverside walk

From here Lunch at the nearby Colliston Inn on the Forfar Road, Colliston Depart at 1.20 and at 2.45 arrive at Drum Castle or Crathes Castle.   Depart at 3.40 pm for Castle Fraser, arriving there at 4.10

Leave at about 5.30, arriving at Castle Forbes at 6 pm

Day 7 

Depart Castle Forbes at 9.30 for Pitmedden.  Extensive herbaceous borders provide an abundance of colour and texture throughout the season and the spectacular lupin border is not to be missed. Honeysuckle, jasmine and roses create a succession of fragrances, while fountains, topiary, sundials, and a fascinating herb garden add to the sense of discovery around the walled garden. If you’re a keen gardener, Pitmedden is a great source of inspiration and ideas.   Over 80 varieties of apple trees adorn the high granite walls, offering a spectacular show of blossom and scent in spring.

At 11.30 arrive at Haddo, an elegant mansion house with stunning late Victorian interiors. Noted for its fine furniture and paintings, Haddo also has superb terraced gardens.  Lunch at Ythanview Hotel in Methlick.  From here through the Aberdeenshire Countryside to Leith Hall

Built in 1650 by James Leith, Leith Hall was very much a family home, lived in, used and altered to meet the family’s needs for nearly three hundred years.  The gardens at Leith Hall are the highest altitude gardens in the trust at 186m above sea level. Out in the gardens, flowering trees and shrubs are everywhere, with roses, fruit, vegetables and ornamental grasses giving year-round interest. But in summer the magnificent zigzag herbaceous border and serpentine catmint border provide a dazzling display.

Day 8

Depart Castle Forbes at 9 am      , arriving at Balmoral Castle at 10 am.  Depart at about Noon, and arrive at Glendoick, a very famous Rhododendron and Azalea nursery for lunch at about 1.30.

If there is time, a short backtrack  to the Hon Catherine Herdman’s Megginch Castle, 15 minutes away at Errol, A fifteenth century castle, altered by Robert Adam in 1790, with a nineteenth century garden. Megginch Castle Gardens have ancient yews, topiary, an astrological garden, and a fountain parterre, a courtyard with a dovecote and a walled garden with a long herbaceous border.

Then on to Scone Palace   The present form of the house dates from the early nineteenth century. It is set in a park with a lake and a Pinetum. J C Loudon’s design was not implemented but he would surely approve of the gardenesque tree collection. Scone was formerly the crowning place of the kings of Scotland.

Your Accommodation, Cardross, is just over an hour from Perth.


Day 9

First to Gargunnock, near Stirling.  Five acres of mature gardens, woodland walks, walled garden and 18th century dovecot.  Then onto two pairs of modern gardens

Aeolia (Mr and Mrs G Murdoch): A ⅓ acre garden developed since 1960 by the owners. Mature specimen trees and shrubs, a large variety of rhododendrons, primulas, hardy geraniums and herbaceous plants. Blackmill (Mr and Mrs Alan Patrick): Across the road from Aeolia. An acre of mature and recent planting of specimen trees and shrubs on the site of an old mill. There is an ornamental pond and rock pool built into the remains of an old mill building. A further acre of natural woodland glen. Paths along the Garrel Burn with views to the cascading waterfalls.

Next to two neighbouring gardens set around a converted farm steading at Stockiemuir Road, Milngavie. One a south facing wooded garden dominated by a large pond, the banks of which are left for natural growth. There is a fruit and vegetable plot within the cultivated garden plus a number of mixed borders with a good variety of plants. The other a 1 acre garden with mature woodland, a lily pond and bog garden, mixed and herbaceous borders with choice plants: hardy geraniums, irises, peonies, oriental poppies and others

Then to Duntreath Castle, arriving at 1.30 pm, for a visit to the garden and lunch.  Lady Juliet Edmonstone is an amusing and informed lecturer on Scotland’s gardens, on which she is an expert.  As Scottish Inspector for The Good Gardens Guide, she has visited most of the significant gardens in Scotland. Her long and deep involvement with the National Trust for Scotland, the Historic Houses Association and Scotland’s Gardens Scheme fully qualify her to guide us through the wonders and beauty of Scotland’s horticultural heritage – not without adding some pithy remarks of her own!   As a working horticultural journalist and recent BBC2 television presenter, she keeps up to date with modern garden design and new plant introductions. Her lectures provide an inspirational overview of Scotland’s best.  Leave at 3 pm

Then 1 hour or so to Braco Castle, the van Ballegooijen’s 19th Century landscaped garden comprising woodland and meadow walks with many mature specimen trees and shrubs, with considerable new planting. The 20 acre garden is one of Scotland’s best-kept secrets. Hidden away in the midst of undulating countryside the castle, parts of which date from around 1600, sits at the far end of a farm road that winds its way gently between fields of grazing cattle. In spring the policies surrounding the castle are packed with drifts of golden daffodils, the result of generations of planting and naturalising The partly walled garden is approached on a rhododendron and tree-lined path and features an ornamental pond, extensive hedging and lawns with shrub and herbaceous borders. The planting is enhanced by spectacular views over the castle park to the Ochil’s.  Leave at 10.30.

Leave here at about 4.45 and take the 30 minute drive to visit – Drummond Castle.  Early evening visit, with a glass of wine on arrival and a guided tour of the gardens with a member of the castle gardens team and an opportunity to visit the 15th century keep.  The multiplex sundial, carved by Charles I’s master mason, survives from the 1630s. It was made at a time of great interest in astronomy and when sundials were the only accurate way of telling the time. Drummond castle is set on a ridge. Terraces step down the hill to the south and a large parterre takes the form of Scotland’s flag, the St Andrew’s cross, centred on the old sundial (layout visible on the satellite image on the map below). The design was carried out by Lewis Kennedy, though the terracing may have been influenced by Charles Barry.

Abbotsford            urquarht


Day 10  

Depart Glasgow Airport (allow just over an hour to get to the airport).