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Gardens throughout Argyll are taking part in a nationwide celebration of a bloom some describe as Scotland’s second national flower – the rhododendron.
Organised by Discover Scottish Gardens and supported for the first time this year by VisitScotland, the Scottish Rhododendron Festival will run until May 31.
Coming hot on the heels of the increasingly popular Scottish Snowdrop Festival, the Scottish Rhododendron Festival will include public gardens and castle grounds all over the country.
A host of gardens that make up the Glorious Gardens of Argyll and Bute, including Crarae Garden, Benmore Botanic Garden, Arduaine, Inveraray Castle and Ardkinglas Gardens, are taking part.
The festival was launched by Glorious Gardens of Argyll and Bute in 2015.
After a successful first year, Discover Scottish Gardens extended the festival across the country and, in 2017, nearly 60 Scottish sites, including public and private gardens, are taking part. They will be offering horticultural events, guided tours and exclusive openings in celebration of this exotic Asian spring shrub that thrives so well in Scotland.
From the ancient Greek for ‘rose’ and ‘tree’, there are more than 1,000 species of rhododendron, which are famous for their vibrant colours. More than half of the participants are opening their gardens to raise money for national charity organisation Scotland’s Gardens.
David Adams McGilp, regional director at VisitScotland, said: ‘We hope people of all ages will be inspired to get out and about to enjoy these colourful, vibrant flowers around some of Argyll’s most stunning gardens.’
Peter Baxter, curator of Benmore Botanic Garden and chairman of Glorious Gardens of Argyll and Bute, said: ‘The rhododendron season is already well under way but many more will still flower in April and May. It is not only a sight to behold as aromatic foliage is another bonus in rhododendrons which can come as something of a pleasant surprise to the uninitiated.
‘The west of Scotland has a particularly good climate for growing this spectacular group of plants, which prompted the Glorious Gardens of Argyll to instigate the initial festival in Scotland in 2015.’
To see the full list of participating gardens in the Scottish Rhododendron Festival, go to www.visitscotland.com/bloom.