Scotland’s Gardens Scheme hopes to open 400 gardens to mark its 90th anniversary

Scotland’s Gardens Scheme plans to celebrate its anniversary by opening more gardens than ever to visitors as Covid restrictions begin to lift

Scotland's Garden Scheme: Redcroft
Scotland's Garden Scheme: Redcroft
(Image credit: Anna Buxton)

If you need a spring pick-me-up (don't we all right now), then there's delightful news for garden and nature lovers everywhere. Open garden charity Scotland’s Gardens Scheme is planning to open an incredible 400 gardens to visitors across Scotland this spring, as the end of coronavirus lockdown is in sight. How's 400 gardens for garden design ideas inspiration? 

This is a special year for the charity – it celebrates its 90th anniversary in 2021. As Covid restrictions ease over the next two months, eye-catching gardens of all shapes and sizes across the country are hoping to start opening to the public including 70 opening for the very first time. Garden highlights include gardens in the highest village in Lanarkshire, at a lofty 1,500 feet; a tiny ‘jungle’ garden near Ayr; the colourful private gardens at Bonnington House in Edinburgh, surrounded by the award-winning sculpture park Jupiter Artland, and a traditional walled garden, with potager and large greenhouse at Southwick House in Kirkcudbrightshire.

Scotland’s Gardens Scheme Gardener's Cottage

Gardener's Cottage features a walled garden with an Australian eucalyptus forest and a South American forest with southern beeches and monkey-puzzles. There is also a New Zealand section with five pools as well as traditional mixed borders

(Image credit: Scotland’s Gardens Scheme)

From large estates and urban wildlife havens, to allotments, contemporary and cottage gardens, and even farmhouse gardens, Scotland’s Gardens Scheme has a garden for every interest. Growing conditions widely differ across Scotland with wonderful variations in planting, inspiring visitors with the plant possibilities in a wide range of settings. 

Scotland has coastal gardens and those at higher altitudes. The West Coast Gulf Stream gardens are famous for their tree ferns and echiums, while woodland and shade garden ideas allow meconopsis and primula flourish. There is something for everyone, and the garden openers will be there to answer gardening questions from visitors wanting to replicate some of the magic they see in their own gardens.

Fehmarn garden

Fehmarn garden features woodland, water, rocks and a cottage garden to the front

(Image credit: Camelia Hudema)

Scotland’s Gardens Scheme was launched in 1931 to help fund district nurses and since then openings have taken place every year. In a normal year, thanks to 44,000 visitors, around 250 charities benefit from around £250,000 raised from the Scheme’s garden admissions, plant sales and teas. 

Liz Stewart, National Organiser at Scotland’s Gardens Scheme, said: 'Thanks to garden owners and volunteers rallying together, there is an outstanding collection of beautiful gardens to visit this year, our 90th. Green spaces that will delight the eye and feed the soul, something we all so need at the moment.'

Cuthberts Brae

The sloping plot of Cuthberts Brae has been transformed into a colourful haven

(Image credit: James Byatt)

Among many other gardens, visitors will be able to see Cuthberts Brae in Moray & Nairn. This garden won Gardeners’ World Magazine, Readers Garden of the Year 2020 and is also a Judges Choice Winner. The garden is a great example of clever sloping garden ideas. Sited on a steep hill with a small flat terrace with gravel garden wrapping around the house, the path then takes you down the bank into a terraced cottage garden that is a magnet for bees, butterflies and other wildlife thanks to its wonderful assortment of bee friendly plants


The Victorian glasshouses at Portmore contain fruit trees, roses, geraniums, pelargoniums and a wide variety of tender plants

(Image credit: Kathy Henry)

Before setting off to any of the gardens, visitors should check the Scotland’s Gardens Scheme website for details and visitor guidance, as there may be some changes to the published dates, times, and booking limits due to Covid-19 restrictions.

It might not be possible for everyone to attend in person and Scotland’s Gardens Scheme’s has got it covered. Its YouTube channel currently hosts 150 videos created by the garden openers themselves, including garden tours, ‘how-to’ videos, and informative talks. It means that whether you're elsewhere in the UK, over in the US or even on the other side of the world, you can still get to enjoy all these stunning spaces have to offer and be inspired to transform your own outdoor space. 

The Schoolhouse

The Schoolhouse is a village garden extending to approximately half an acre

(Image credit: Kathy Henry)

If you do plan to visit any of the gardens in person, the timetable for phased relaxation of restrictions can be found here – these are indicative and may be subject to change. Scotland’s Gardens Scheme is following Government advice that gardens are permitted to open.

Anna writes about interior design and gardening. Her work has appeared in Homes & Gardens, Livingetc, and many other publications. She is an experienced outdoor and indoor gardener and has a passion for growing roses and Japanese maples in her outside space.