Be Inspired: Perthshire Gardens

There has always been something quite magical about gardens. From a young age, children are intrigued by the idea of a secret garden and that aura of mystery that enchants them doesn't have to leave you as you grow older.

Perthshire boasts some of Scotland's most rare and wonderful horticultural jewels. From the stunningly tended grounds of Drummond Castle to the ancient trees of Scone Palace's arboretum there are so many beautiful gardens to enjoy.

Visitors and locals alike marvel at the exquisite topiary, native blooms and towering conifers that adorn the gardens from Perth city centre up to the Highlands of our beautiful county.

Due to covid-19 restrictions many attracttions are operating a little differently to usual.  You'll see that we've linked you straight to the individual gardens' websites - or social media pages - and we would advise you to check opening hours and rules before you travel.  

Scone Palace Arboretum

A visit to Scone Palace would be incomplete without enjoying the wider estate and Palace grounds including the stunning open gardens, they are as splendid as the Palace itself and together form a great day out in Perthshire.

Distance from Perth city centre: 2 milesScone Palace Gardens Perth

The grounds and open gardens at Scone Palace are home to a variety of wildlife. The red squirrel is attracted to the great woodlands, as are roe deer. The estate grounds provide a sanctuary for birdwatchers with the rare hawfinch which can be spotted in Lime Avenue. Oystercatchers and swallows also make their debuts. On a warm and sunny day look out for an array of butterflies in the colourful Butterfly Garden. Sightings of the rare “comma” butterfly have been recorded. Also, look out for the peacocks who roam freely around the Palace grounds. 

David Douglas was born in the village of Scone in 1799 and worked as a gardener here at Scone Palace for seven years. Douglas went on to become an explorer and a great plant hunter. To discover more about David Douglas, some of his fellow Scottish tree planters, and the Pinetum, visit the David Douglas Pavilion.

Constructed from Douglas fir, the structure is erected within sight of the towering conifers at Scone and features other timbers sourced from the Estate. Scottish slate, recycled from the Estate, was also used in the construction. Stroll at your leisure through the magnificent Pinetum where, amongst others, giant redwoods and noble firs tower over you then onto the New Pinetum of less hardy and decorative conifers. 

Whilst the gardens and grounds are beautiful throughout the year, there are a number of seasonal highlights. Early spring is heralded by the arrival of snowdrops followed by the drifts of daffodils throughout the grounds. The primulas and bluebells bloom in the woodland areas throughout April and May. In May and June, the grounds explode with colour from the rhododendrons and azaleas, while the Laburnum Walkway will also dazzle you with its distinctive bright yellow flowers.

Reinstated in 2014, the Kitchen Garden offers our visitors the opportunity to view the gardens where we are sourcing produce for the Palace kitchens. Pathways have been made through the various vegetable and cut flower beds for our visitors' enjoyment. 

Branklyn Gardens

Branklyn Garden’s origins date back to the 1920s and ever since it has been one of the country’s most famous and most revered gardens. Regarded as one of the finest private gardens in the whole of Scotland and just a short walk from the city centre, it is the perfect place to take a walk and get some fresh air!

Distance from Perth city centre: 1 mile

Branklyn Garden was developed in the 1920s by John and Dorothy Renton, with the couple keen to create a garden with some of the most unusual and rare species from around the globe. It regularly attracts gardeners and botanists from all over the world, who come to the garden to admire the wide collection of plants.Branklyn Gardens Perth

The couple collected seeds from renowned plant hunters including Frank Ludlow and George Forrest, and that coupled with Dorothy’s expert talents led to the creation of this incredible garden.

The two-acre hillside garden offers garden-lovers the chance to see some different species throughout the year. In spring, you can admire the alpine flowers, dog’s tooth violet and the blue buttercup. In summer, you do not want to miss the magnolias and feathery purple Japanese maple.

Later in the year when autumn arrives, inhale the incredible aroma of the katsura tree. The tree produces a delicious burnt sugar scent when its leaves begin to turn.

The garden is renowned for its huge collection of plant species, particularly rhododendrons, alpine, herbaceous and peat-loving plants. It is little surprise that it remains so popular with avid gardeners and botanists alike!

Branklyn Garden is a must-see when visiting Perthshire, and is just a short walk across the bridge from the city centre. 

Hercules Garden

Situated within the stunning grounds of Blair Castle – Hercules Garden is a magnificent spot in Highland Perthshire. With an impressive Walled Garden among other great features, it has been recently restored to its 18th century form and sits perfectly with the stunning castle backdrop.

Distance from Perth city centre: 34 miles

Within the stunning grounds of Blair Castle, the magnificent Hercules Garden is the ideal place for garden lovers and members of the public to enjoy incredible scenery and a colourful display of plants and trees!Hercules Garden Perthshire

The impressive Walled Garden has recently been restored to its 18th century form, featuring landscaped ponds, a Chinese bridge, plantings, vegetables and an orchard of more than 100 fruit trees. You will also notice the very impressive life-size statue of Hercules himself overlooking the garden. The Hercules Walled Garden is around nine acres in size and boasts a herbaceous border which runs along the 275 metre south-facing wall.

You will spot some of the best of Scottish wildlife too – with Highland cattle often seen grazing in the nearby fields and red squirrels often spotted among the branches of the trees. Peacocks also roam around the grounds freely and are popular with visitors.

You can also enjoy the sculpture trail at Blair Castle’s Hercules Garden, which features contemporary and 18th century sculpture as well as eight new works, letter-carving on stone from the Memorial Arts Charity’s Art and Memory Collection. There is also the tranquil wooded area of Diana’s Grove – which sits adjacent to the castle and boasts a magnificent stand of tall trees including grand fir, Douglas fir, larch and wellingtonia in just two acres.

For an incredible day out where you can see some of Perthshire’s most scenic views and some of Scotland’s best wildlife, make sure you head to Blair Castle’s Hercules Garden.

Explorers Garden

The enchanting Explorers Garden tells the story of Scottish plant hunters – who risked their lives in order to discover rare and exciting new plant species. Set in the beautiful Highland Perthshire countryside, you can choose to wander the garden with a guided tour or on your own accord!

Distance from Perth city centre: 26 miles

Many Scottish plant hunters risked their lives years ago in an attempt to discover new, rare and exciting plant species. The Explorers Garden showcases many of the different plants discovered across the globe – and celebrates the plant hunter's contributions with great exhibitions and tours!Explorers Garden in Pitlochry Perthshire

The Explorers Garden is set into glades, so you know where each species originates from. So you can be strolling through the North American glade one minute, and the next you are trekking through Nepal and the Himalayas!

Experienced tour guides provide great insight into each of the plants, trees, wildlife and history of each glade and the Scottish plant hunters who went there. There are also great exhibitions and workshops for everyone to enjoy.

The American Dream exhibition opened in 2017, sponsored by the Scottish Rock Garden Club. The display is on in the magnificent Douglas Pavilion and features images captured by Julia Corden, a modern day plant hunter. Julia studied the plant species in the Rocky Mountains in the USA, and in the exhibition you can view her work as well as close up images of the plants and the spectacular North American landscape.

The Explorers Garden is renowned for its meconopsis collection, stunning vistas and interesting sculptures and structures. It’s a unique experience to understand different species and the lives of the plant hunters who discovered them.

Drummond Castle Gardens

The gardens origins date back to the 1600s and are within the grounds of Drummond Castle.  In the gardens, you will find an abundance of beautiful flowers and hedges with amazing views of the surrounding scenery and the castle – which is not open to the public but provides an incredible backdrop.

Distance from Perth city centre: 20 milesDrummond Castle Gardens in Perthshire

Regarded as not only one of Scotland’s but one of Europe’s most impressive formal gardens, Drummond Castle Gardens are a must-see for anyone visiting the Crieff area!

It is little wonder the gardens have featured many times on television – most notably in the film Rob Roby and the series Outlander.

Although the gardens date back to the 17th century, they were transformed, redesigned and terraced in the 19th century. The formal gardens that you see today were replanted in the 1950s but maintain the same original features as before. This includes the ancient yew trees and the remaining commemoration of Queen Victoria’s 1842 visit – a beech tree.

Although entry is permitted to the gardens, the castle itself is not open to the public. The castle and gardens are set on part of a prominent spine of rock known as the Gask Ridge. The castle’s gardens are described as “the best example of formal terraced gardens in the country” by Historic Scotland.

Bolfracks

With a collection of rare and unusual plants, the gardens at Bolfracks are a beautiful and peaceful oasis and the perfect place to unwind. The gardens provide excellent views over the Tay Valley, and is open for the public to come and enjoy.Bolfracks Garden in Perthshire

Distance from Perth city centre: 32 miles

Bolfracks Gardens are renowned for their rare and unusual plants – including a fine collection of rhododendrons, azaleas, acers, old-fashioned roses, and an array of herbaceous perennials.

Boasting spectacular views of the Tay Valley, Bolfracks Gardens have been in existence since the mid-18th century, although much of today’s gardens originate from the 1970s.

The gardens have undergone some major renovations in recent years in order to keep them fresh and in the pristine condition they are in today. Two large old beds have been removed and replaced by four smaller, more manageable beds. There are also brand new peony beds and a new short and wide herbaceous border at the East End of the lawn.

The beautiful Bolfracks Gardens are an inspiration to many aspiring gardeners as well as those who just appreciate taking a wander around, absorbing the scenery. The gardens are open to the public from the beginning of April through to the end of October, and children under 16 can enter free of charge!

Along with the Walled Garden, there is also a wooded garden with a burn which is less formal. There is also a beautiful summerhouse in the garden built in the 1930s.

Depending on when you visit, you will come across a wide range of plant species. Visit in the high summer and you will see and smell wonderful and fragrant roses, whereas a visit in September or October will provide a magnificent splash of autumn colour!

Cluny House Gardens

Set in a stunning woodland garden in Highland Perthshire, Cluny House Gardens are home to exotic plants and trees originating from the Himalayas and North America. The gardens overlook the scenic Strathtay Valley and are home to red squirrels and a variety of different bird species. 

Distance from Perth city centre: 30 miles

With a garden originating from the 1950s, Cluny House Gardens in Aberfeldy are breathtakingly beautiful. The garden is home to some of Scotland’s best wildlife, so it’s ideal for birdwatchers!

The garden was created in the 1950s by Bobby and Betty Masterton – who had a specific interest in exotic Himalayan plants which thrive in the gardens' conditions. One of the most striking of these is the Tibetan cherry tree, a large tree notable for its mahogany peeling bark. Other species that flourish in Cluny House Gardens include lilies – some of which reach a staggering 4m height – and meconopsis, also known as the blue poppy.

Since the late 1980s, the gardens have been cared for by Bobby and Betty’s daughter Wendy and her husband John Mattingley, but they remain as beautiful and as exotic as when they were first born.

Cluny is one of the sites included in the Perthshire Big Tree Country Heritage and Access project, celebrating the amazing woodland heritage in the area and coordinated by Perth and Kinross Countryside Trust.

PKAVS Walled Garden

The Walled Garden is part of PKAVS’ Mental Health and Wellbeing Hub. Based in the grounds of the Murray Royal Hospital, it is a tranquil haven for people recovering from mental illness and members of the public alike, just a short walk from Perth city centre.PKAVS Walled Garden in Perth

Distance from Perth city centre: Less than 1 mile

The garden is beautifully maintained and is a peaceful place to unwind coming from the bustling city centre. The garden helps to support those recovering from mental illness by getting them in a working environment – be that in the garden itself or in the fantastic welcoming café. There is also a great bank of volunteers who help build service users' confidence and skills while they recover.

The Walled Garden regularly do plant sales as well as seasonal fruit and vegetables. The welcoming café is staffed by clients that PKAVS works with giving them the chance to develop new communication skills in a workplace. Homemade soups, delicious cakes and teas and coffees are available in the café at very reasonable prices, so when you visit the garden make sure you stop by for some lunch and say hi to the friendly team!

There is also an art studio and shop on site where beautiful items crafted by PKAVS clients are sold. You can even commission an item like a picnic bench or bird table – it’s all made with care and built to last!

The Bield

A charming Walled Garden situated within thirty acres of lawns and woodlands surrounding Blackruthven House. A beautiful and peaceful setting, visitors are welcome to visit the Walled Garden, labyrinth and grounds whenever the Bield is open. The Bield Gardens in Perthshire

Distance from Perth city centre: 5 miles

A stunning and tranquil Walled Garden. The Bield is part of the quiet garden movement, meaning you can be assured of a peaceful experience. It’s beautifully maintained with neatly clipped hedges and a lovely flower meadow – there is also a large collection of specimen trees.

The labyrinth is cut into the grass of the old orchard and visitors are welcome to stroll around this area whenever The Bield is open to the public. The main attraction is the traditional Walled Garden, which contains perfectly manicured lawns, herbaceous borders and an organic vegetable plot. Within the Walled Garden there is also a wide variety of fruit trees, a fruit cage, glasshouse and a healing garden.

Entry to the garden and grounds is free. They ask visitors to please sign in at Reception first.

 

Braco Castle Gardens

With captivating views of the Ochil Hills, Braco Castle Gardens are absolutely delightful! Their origins date back to the 19th century and the castle gardens boast a huge range of stunning plant and tree species! The gardens open from January to October – opening earlier than most other local gardens for the Snowdrop Festival!

Distance from Perth city centre: 26 miles

The 19th century gardens at Braco Castle provide an absolutely beautiful setting for keen gardeners, botanists or admiring members of the public! Literally a garden for all seasons, it has been extensively expanded over the past two decades.

In the early 1990s, a Dutch couple fell so in love with the gardens, castle and incredible views that they bought them over and set about improving the gardens even more. There is a partly walled garden, and the entire area is made even more captivating with the Ochil Hills as the backdrop.

The gardens open earlier than other local gardens as they host the Snowdrop Festival from January to March. The festival showcases a beautiful and awe-inspiring display of snowdrops with the stunning landscapes touched by winter.

Open for all seasons, the gardens take you from the snowdrops of winter through to the spring bloom, and on to the colourful summer and autumn seasons. The gardens include many fantastic species, including rhododendrons and spectacular ornamental trees.

With stunning views and a wide range of wonderful plants available all year round, Braco Castle Gardens are the perfect trip for anybody who loves the outdoors and appreciates the beauty and tranquillity of gardens.

Glenericht House

Nestled alongside the River Ericht, Glenericht House Gardens are a beautiful woodland spot boasting 92 tree varieties! With beautiful beech trees that span the entire driveway on the entrance to the gardens, the setting is spectacular and it’s the perfect place for a walk in amongst some of Perthshire’s finest woodland!

Distance from Perth city centre: 21 miles

Close to Bridge of Cally, you will find Glenericht House Gardens – a beautiful and scenic woodland garden with an array of enormous trees in many different varieties. Crane your neck skywards as you look up to the top of the trees in one of Perthshire’s most magnificent woodlands!

With a stunning grade ‘A’ listed suspension bridge spanning the river, the scenery is awe-inspiring and quite unique. In the gardens, you will find an abundance of impressive trees.

The woodland walk is absolutely lovely and you will be able to spot the Victorian planted trees and shrubs along the way. It is tucked away covered by the tall trees meaning you will find a peaceful and tranquil spot to relax and enjoy the outdoors.

Of the 92 different tree varieties, most are conifers and you will be astounded by the height of the top Douglas fir – which stands at 171 feet and still growing! It truly is a sight to behold!

In May, just before the summer gets into full swing, you will be able to view the bright and colourful daffodils and the rhododendrons in flower.  A peaceful woodland getaway, the Glenericht House Gardens are ideal for keen gardeners and members of the public alike.