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Now, more than ever, we appreciate the impact of the great outdoors on our mental, physical and emotional wellbeing and where better than on our own doorstep.
This autumn, there are many more opportunities to immerse yourself in the many glorious gardens, now open for charity, the length and breadth of Argyll. Under Scotland’s Garden Scheme, private garden owners are giving us a chance to enjoy a fresh-air stroll in the lushness and tranquility of their gardens, and donate to great causes.
North of Oban, near Connel on the A85, lies Achnacloich, a 20-acre woodland garden, overlooking Loch Etive. Here you can marvel at the ancient trees and shrubs from Asia, China, Japan, North America, Chile and New Zealand. There are native oaks and magnificent 150-year-old Scots pines and European larch. Together with acer, betula, cornus, pieris, sorbus, an array of vibrant autumn colour.
Open Saturdays -T:01631 710223. £5, children free.
Twelve miles south of Oban, towards Seil Island, why not visit the spectacular elevated setting of Ardmaddy Castle Gardens. Here there is a plantsman’s garden for all seasons; you will find rare, unusual trees, shrubs and plants, cutting flowers, fruit and vegetables. Explore the woodland walk leading to a water garden. You will see breathtaking views and fresh autumn colours.
Open daily, all year. £5, children free.
At Inveraray Castle Gardens, you can choose either to walk for free through expansive woodland to hill summits and stunning views. Or, for an entrance fee, take a wander through the iconic fairytale castle and formal gardens. There are lawns, paths, colourful shrubs and old trees such as oak, beech, sweet chestnut, larch, fir and cedar. The restrictions on opening earlier this year led to a surge in native wildlife – a familiar story around the country. Castle staff and visitors have seen rare birds such as nuthatches, also red squirrels and pine martens frolicking on the lawns and in the wildflower meadow – bringing together the manicured with the wild creating a fabulous tableau for all nature lovers.
New, this year, is a series of information panels about the gardens; their wildlife, history and lichen collection so you can not only wonder at the sights but learn about them as well. Also some giant picture frames positioned at scenic spots providing a backdrop for a memorable photograph or two so perfect for keeping the Instagram kids happy.
Open until the end October, Thursday through Monday. Castle and gardens £11.50 online, children free. www.inveraray-castle.com
Within a few miles of Inveraray on the A63 near Lochgair, you will find Knock Newhouse. This six-acre woodland garden is centred on a small waterfall, a 250-foot lochan and lily pond. There are over 100 species of rhododendron and hybrids and other flowering shrubs. Among the mature and young trees are cut leaf oak and alder, specimen conifers, redwoods, eucalyptus, acers and a Wollemi pine (which many have thought to be extinct).
Open by arrangement – T:01546 886628. £4, children free.
Gardens are either open on specific days, all year, or ‘by arrangement’ (just phone them). Find details of open gardens near you on www.scotlandsgardens.org or check below.
Opening daily for the rest of the season or all year: An Cala, Ardkinglas , Ardmaddy, Ardtornish, Bargillean’s ‘Angus Garden’, Druimneil.
Opening specific days: Achnacloich – Saturdays, Baile Geamhraidh – Wednesday and Saturdays till October 1.
Inveraray Castle Gardens – Fridays through to Mondays till end October. Those opening ‘by arrangement’: Barochreal, Dal an Eas, Knock Newhouse, Maolachy’s Garden.
All contact details are on the website and in the Yellow Book. Before your visit, please check the Visitors Guidance on www.scotlandsgardens.org/visitors-guidance-during-covid19/
Can’t make it? Then you can visit many of the gardens virtually and donate that way. More than 100 virtual garden visits can be found on our YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/c/ScotlandsGardensScheme
Scotland’s Gardens is a charity and relies on donations so, thank you to all those who continue to support it. Take the family and visit one or two – you won’t regret it.